Thursday, March 29, 2012

Freudian Slips

Why does Mitt Romney keep doing stuff like this?

Talking by conference call with thousands of Wisconsin voters Wednesday, Mitt Romney told them he had a humorous connection to their state.

But it didn’t take long for “funny anecdote” to become “campaign fodder.”

Romney’s story involved the time more than 50 years ago that his father, George, an American Motors executive, shut down a factory in Michigan and moved the work to Wisconsin.

“Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan, and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign,” explained Romney, who described a subsequent campaign parade in which the school band marching with his father knew how to play Wisconsin’s fight song, but not Michigan’s.

“Every time they would start playing ‘On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,” said Romney, laughing.

He hasn’t had such a good laugh since his chauffeur ran over a squirrel.

It doesn’t take an advanced degree in psychology to come to the conclusion that Mr. Romney is doing just about everything he can to make him sound aloof, awkward, forced, and unlikable to the average American voter. Every attempt he makes to sound like a regular guy blows up in his face, and the evidence is everywhere: his crack about being “unemployed,” his $10,000 wager with Rick Perry, his $374,000 income for speaking fees that “don’t amount to very much,” his two-Cadillacs wife, the elevator for his cars in his rebuilt cottage in California; it’s like he doesn’t want to flaunt his wealth but can’t do it in a way that comes across as aw-shucks Mormon humble.

Maybe he can’t help it. Maybe the rich folks he hangs out with at the country club all talk like that. Maybe he’s trying to inspire the base to aspire to be rich enough that speaking fees are something you toss into the penny jar when you empty your pockets (or have the valet do it). Or it may be that somewhere deep in his psyche he’s trying to reconcile his political desire to be president with his disdain for having to suck up to the base of the Republican party in order to claim his prize. After all, I have yet to hear him articulate exactly why he wants to be president in any other frame other than he wants to beat Barack Obama. But that’s a goal that could be accomplished on one day in November. Then what?

No one really knows, least of all Mr. Romney. And that’s probably why he’s doing his best to make sure that it doesn’t happen.