Thursday, March 01, 2007

Smitten with Mitt

This article is nearly two weeks old, but I just found it for the first time and thought that it was well written and fair. Over at the Politico, Terry Michael, executive director of the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, writes:

If all that reads like cheap armchair psychoanalysis of the candidates and the voters, go to Mitt TV and see what I mean. I scared myself. I believe the Iraq war is a nearly criminal enterprise. I’m a social-cultural leftie who wants the government out of my bedroom and away from my body. But I was nearly mesmerized by a guy whose religion I consider akin to a cult, whose Iraq war support angers me and whose posturing against gays I find obnoxious.

So, I find it kind of appalling that I find him appealing.

Michael is apparently conflicted about Mitt. He dislikes his substance, but loves his style. Still, Michael points to probably Mitt’s biggest problem right now, (the label of flip-flopper and comparisons to John Kerry) and how easily he was won over once he saw Mitt:

Kerry’s problem in 2004 was not flip-flopping, not that he had changed his mind. Rather, he came off as a candidate whose mind often held two simultaneously competing views: for and against the war in Vietnam, for and against the war in Iraq.

Observe how Romney looks straight into the camera and almost laughs off his switch from gay rights in his failed Senate campaign to anti-gay marriage in his presidential bid. Just got 13 years older, more gray hair and wiser, he deadpans.

Cynics in the media and politics are generally quick to label and slow to observe change. Thus, the label of “flip-flopper” has been tough to shed as Mitt is almost exclusively defined by the media and political insiders at this point in the campaign. Yet, for first time observers like Michael and those less cynical, Mitt is anything but insincere in his change when observed in person. People are won over as he explains his views. Admittedly, Mitt has a long way to go before anyone but media and political types are following his campaign, but once there, there is little doubt that people will have a similar reaction to Michael’s. The question is whether he will be able to hold out that long to get the chance for people to see him for the first time.

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