In his leafy prep days at Michigan’s elite
Cranbrook School, the Mittster earned a reputation
as something of a prankster.
As an underclassman, the 2012 Republican presidential
candidate reportedly guided a teacher known
as “the bat” into a face-plant with a door.
Mitt Romney had opened a series of doors, and
then gestured to the next door for the teacher
with diminished eyesight, who thought it was
open, The Washington Post reported.
An obvious question emerges for the Republican
Party. Can they see the door coming? Do they
get the joke? Or will Republicans look in the
mirror on Wednesday morning, Nov. 7, and see
a whopping welt on their foreheads, courtesy
of the would-be Jester In Chief.
When you follow the campaign moves, the statements,
the appearances and the strategy of the Romney
campaign, you can’t help but wonder: Has he
seen internal polling showing he can’t win?
Is he running the campaign as if it were a high-profile
prank? Is he a Manchurian candidate version
of Stephen Colbert?
“Let’s see how we can mess with people today,”
one imagines Romney saying in a morning meeting
with his band of merry-makers.
In just days we will see Romney at the London
Olympics where he will support his wife’s dancing
horse, Rafalca (for which he took a $77,000
tax deduction in 2010). The horse competes for
the gold in dressage, a “sport” I’ve never encountered
in a quarter-century of borderline obsessive
Michael Dukakis should tape the Romney appearances
with Rafalca. It will make Dukakis feel better
about riding around in that tank in the 1988
campaign, looking more ready for paint ball
or a game of Missile Command on Atari than the
White House. Talk about a gift from one former
Massachusetts governor to another.
Philadelphia voters were outraged with another
politician from the Commonwealth, U.S. Sen.
John Kerry, who in the 2004 campaign ordered
Swiss on his cheesesteak instead of Cheese Whiz.
How are the white working class men, with their
fully blossomed guts and NFL replica jerseys,
going to react when they see Romney with a dancing
horse? I guess he is running against a black
guy. Romney, that is.
Speaking of black guys, what was that business
at the NAACP convention last week? Romney clearly
isn’t winning the African-American vote, but
at least make an effort. Independent white suburban
mothers, the sort of people who like to feel
they are tolerant because their kids play with
a few Hispanics, want to see presidential candidates
try to bridge the racial divides. George W.
Bush did this. John McCain tried. But there
was Romney last week, actually courting boos
with the NAACP for the benefit of the talk-radio
crowd, when he could have reached for a few
percentage points from the black community by
talking more about school choice or saying something
meaningful about former Obama chief of staff
and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s failure so
far to reduce the violence in Chicago where
100,000 residents are believed to be members
Then there is the Latino community. A Pew Research
poll shows President Barack Obama leading Romney
65 percent to 25 percent with Latinos. Romney’s
solution on immigration, and he said it himself:
“self deportation.” Comedian George Lopez inspired
a collective booing from a largely Latino audience
Saturday night during his HBO special just by
mentioning Romney. Not much in the way of commentary
about Romney. Just the name.
Romney’s “rising-tide-lifts-all-boats” pitch
about the economy isn’t close to registering
with Latino voters. Where is the serious outreach
to this vital voting demographic?
Bigger picture, ask yourself this, with no Google
searches on your smartphone or references to
any newspapers: What is Mitt Romney’s platform?
What kind of a guy is he?
OK, fair enough, he’s really good at making
money. But think about it. How many people have
you met in life who are masterful with building
their own wealth who want to help other people
get rich, too? Capitalism, the way Romney plays
it, is a zero-sum game.
Romney is defining himself largely by comparisons
to others political figures. Not Obama. Reagan
is my hero.
Obama told us exactly what he would do if elected
as president — and he did much of it. Reform
health-care. Immigration policy change. Detroit
is back. Stimulus. Killing Osama bin Laden.
Don’t like it? You should have listened more
closely in the 2008 campaign.
Name an issue for which Romney would take a
political hit, a cause he’d deem worthy of absorbing
a punch — or even a position he wouldn’t massage
to skirt the spit-screaming of a conservative
radio host in a Red State county he couldn’t
It’s almost as if a political junkie-techie
constructed an online avatar of a presidential
candidate on “Second Life” or “The Sims” and
released it into the real world as a product
known as Mitt Romney.
How does he expect us to keep straight faces?
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa
newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily
Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.