Thursday, February 09, 2012

Mitt Romney Dropping Out Four Years Ago

Mitt Romney is seeking to provide a narrative that will bring him to the Presidency, and that narrative is different than the one he presented four years ago.

Although he has spent four or five years running for President spending tens of millions of dollars of his own money in the process, although he successfully ran for and was Governor of Massachusetts, and although he is the son of a man who also ran for President himself, he would have you believe he is not a politician primarily interested in political office.

Although he was a vulture capitalist, making a huge fortune as CEO of Bain Capital which was in business to make money for its owners and investors, he would have you believe that as a businessman he was good at creating jobs and that those skills would transfer to creating jobs from the White House.

Although he has never run an organization of nearly the size and complexity of the U.S. Government, and although he does not have experience getting legislation through the U.S. Congress, he would have you believe that he has the experience required to be a good President.

Like the other candidates, he is also busy seeking to disrupt the narratives that the other candidates (at least those who are polling well) are seeking to use to support their own chances for election.

It is of course half a century since television changed the nature of political campaigning. When the nation was founded, those who wished to be president felt that it would have been inappropriate to be seen as seeking the position, waiting to be drafted for the job by colleagues who knew them well. Lincoln was elected president on the basis of long, closely argued speeches in which he laid out clear arguments supporting his beliefs about the needs of the country and the way to satisfy those needs: transcripts of his speeches were published widely in the newspapers of the day. Since the 1960s, campaigning is done in sound bites for an audience with the attention span of a gnat, focusing on the emotions of the viewer rather than the viewer's intellect. I would prefer Lincoln's approach, or lacking that Washington's which at least had the virtue of creating less sound pollution.

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