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Lovable? No. Electable? Probably. Romney's relationship with the GOP electorate

Andrew W. Griffin
I'd recognize that hair and forehead anywhere!

POLITICAL COMMENTARY

OKLAHOMA CITY – So, how excited were the good, conservative folks at the Jim Thorpe Sports Hall of Fame Museum when Republican Mitt Romney arrived there Friday morning for a fundraising event?

They weren't really. There was polite applause and a "Wow, it's the GOP presidential frontrunner - in the buckle of the Red State Bible Belt! Gee whiz!" reaction. Yeah, there was some "enthusiasm, but it was more subdued than you would have guessed.This reporter came in expecting throngs. Perhaps a lot of them were "busy" or didn't have the spare $20.12 for a ticket.

Regardless, Mitt Romney was in town looking to boost his campaign coffers, to keep that Romney bus gassed up and ready to hit New Hampshire, Iowa and points in between. Normally we're an afterthought, but Romney made a smart - and shrewd decision to come to the Sooner State, hat in hand, with tales of an America that really doesn't exist anymore.

It was a somewhat repetitious stump speech, Romney’s “America is great, America is exceptional” lines were appreciated by this patriotic crowd but didn’t offer the informed bunch a whole lot of new information. Oh there was the bit about ending Obamacare and "revamping" the tax code, but you didn't hear any really big and bold plans come from the man. And his comments about ending "crony capitalism" rang hollow, at least for this somewhat cynical journo.

Make no mistake. Mitt Romney “believes in America,” referencing his campaign slogan. He’s built an empire over the past four decades. He’s a powerful man and America is awesome. Okay, we know that. The audience gets it. What do you stand for, Mr. Romney?

Granted, Mitt is a handsome man in that made-for-TV-president sort of way. He’s even vaguely inspiring with his musings on 19th century, industrial-age capitalism. But that’s not enough. The elderly libertarian and thorn-in-the-side-of-the-Establishment Ron Paul, who is practically 80, is pulling in millions and talking about ending the wars and the Federal Reserve. As he told a hostile and bewildered David Gregory of Meet the Press today, his followers tend to be younger because they are the ones who will be impacted the most by the economic collapse and neverending war policy of the U.S.

Romney, on the other hand, has been steady as a yacht on calm waters. Watch him in the debates. Except for that moment when he laid a hand on Rick Perry, he of furrowed brow and awkward pauses, Romney has held it together pretty well. It would make sense that a moderate Republican like the former Massachusetts governor, would be met with cries from angry Oklahoma Democrats that Okies “want Romneycare!” Perhaps.

And while small, the Occupy OKC - already crippled by infighting and Marxist infiltration – is doing its best to bring their “99%” issues to the establishment and the elites who are running the show. Will Occupy OKC make it another month? Will the Occupy Wall Street movement as we know it last another month? The gales of November certainly play a role.

So, what of Mitt Romney? We know Mitt has been extraordinarily successful in life. With his political pedigree and Mormon business connections, he set his sights high, an American flag whipping in the wind behind him, Colbert-style.

And who can forget Mitt’s father,  former Michigan governor and one-time presidential candidate back  in ’68?

George Romney, while a somewhat inarticulate fellow, had a decency about him that ultimately made him unable to get through the brutal gauntlet of presidential politics. At the time it was suggested, much to Richard Nixon’s delight, that Mitt’s father simply didn’t have that “presidential timber” to make it all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

That devious, conniving Nixon, the guy that the press wasn’t going to “kick around anymore,” saw an opportunity after Papa Romney made a bizarre admission about being “brainwashed” during a fact-finding trip to Vietnam a few years earlier. When that made the wires, Mitt’s pop was done. Mitt found out about it while he was on his “mission” for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Yeah, a “light rinse” in ‘Nam and George Romney’s goose was cooked. And it’s sad because George Romney was an intellectually honest guy, having realized what a damn mess Vietnam was (and that was in ’65). And the victor in ’68, Nixon (and bumbling Ford after him), kept us in that jungle quagmire for another seven years.

And while they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, where father and son differ is that with all of the concerns about foreign wars, largely against the elusive jihadi menace, he is (not surprisingly) surrounding himself with Bush-era neo-con foreign policy advisors like Michael Chertoff (yikes!), Dov Zakheim (egad!) and Cofer “flies on the eyeballs guy” Black (holy &%$#!) If Romney is elected you can guarantee America will be further entangled in foreign wars.

So, perhaps Mitt is making up for what he perhaps sees as his father’s shortcomings. That Pop didn’t go in with a plan to WIN! Papa Romney didn’t want to win badly enough. Son Mitt wants to win, that much is clear. In front of a friendly audience, as we saw Friday, it was all “America, F*** yeah!” but when he’s debating or in front of a mixed or decidedly hostile audience, Mitt has a tendency to let the “know-it-all” smugness take over. Where have we seen that before?

Having heard Herman Cain in the same room nearly one year ago, it was clear that Cain had more “vim and vigor” than a half-dozen Romney’s put together. Cain speaks off the cuff, which populists find refreshing.

Romney is a bit glib, stilted and cautious, qualities that make Tea Party folks suspicious. And Cain has seemingly ridden out that dust-up over his alleged ibogaine treatments during his heady days in Omaha. The rumor mill is working overtime these days. And when it becomes clear that the pizza man with the dubious 9-9-9 plan is blowing a lot of hot air, I guarantee you conservatives will come running to the reliably waffle-prone Mitt Romney. Especially after a few more weeks of Cain’s clownish comments about electrifying the border fence or anything about foreign policy. By Thanksgiving, Romney will be seen as statesmanlike compared to the incoherent Cain.

So, what of Mitt’s relationship with journalists? I would think it would be rather positive, compared to the way the ink-stained jerks back East have treated guys like Ron Paul and the might-as-well-not-exist, libertarian-leaning Gary Johnson. They still invite low-single digit guys like Jon Huntsman and that fussy britches ex-senator from the Keystone State, Rick Santorum, to every debate and Johnson gets ignored. Hell, Michele Bachmann's team is fleeing that sinking ship like rats swimming for a solid bit of flotsam.

Yeah, it’s a real shame they won't let Johnson in and it shows this scribbler (and plenty of other folks who are half-way paying attention) that the establishment does not want issues like ending the Drug War to be addressed. Go back to sleep, Mr. and Mrs. America.

But back to Romney. At the fundraiser, a question from a journalist – yours truly – seemed to throw him off. And the question, about NASA and America’s future in space exploration, wasn’t even answered directly.

Yeah, the Mitt-ster seemed distracted and opted to go off on a tangent about the National Institutes of Health and vague comments about investing in science and technology. It was rather odd. In fact it was like that episode of The Monkees where Monkee Mike turns the tables on an obnoxious, talking supercomputer and Mike’s witty questions so confuse the machine that it blows up. My question wasn’t witty or even controversial. He seemed more caught up in the idea that an actual question was coming from a member of the media wearing a press pass around his neck. He mumbled something about the media asking him questions later or something. What?

He wrapped things up pretty quickly and was summarily swarmed by elderly autograph seekers and camera-wielding well-wishers as he was being pressured to leave by his staff. Off to another meeting with the swells in River City. Romney is smart to come to Oklahoma, with our decent employment rate and reliably Republican nature. We may not think Mitt is the bee’s knees, but when the rubber meets the road, I can guarantee you that they will fill in the circle for Mitt. Hell, they voted for John McCain, didn’t they?

Copyright 2011 West Marie Media       

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About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Andrew W. Griffin is the founder and editor of Red Dirt Report, based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state.  Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics.  Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans.  Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points.  We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information.

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