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Mitt Looks the Part (Barfage? yes, but interesting points)
The American Prospect ^ | May 23, 2011 | Robert B. Reich

Posted on 05/24/2011 8:18:34 AM PDT by FreeKeys

Why Mitt Romney still poses the greatest challenge to Obama in 2012

One of my regrets in life is losing the chance to debate Mitt Romney and whip his ass. It was the fall of 2002. Mitt Romney had thundered into Massachusetts with enough money to grab the Republican nomination for governor. Meanwhile, I was doing my best to secure the Democratic nomination. One week before the Democratic primary, I was tied in the polls with the state treasurer, well ahead of four other candidates. But my campaign ran out of cash. Despite pleas from my campaign manager, I didn't want to put a second mortgage on the family home. The rest is history: The state treasurer got the nomination, I never got to debate Mitt, and Mitt won the election.

Now, many polls show Mitt leading the pack for the Republican nomination, which surprises me given the Republicans' recent penchant for self-immolation. Mitt would pose the most serious challenge to a second Obama term.

I say this not because Mitt's mind is the sharpest of the likely contenders (Newt Gingrich is far more nimble intellectually). Nor because his record of public service is particularly impressive (Tim Pawlenty took his governorship seriously, while Mitt as governor seemed more intent on burnishing his Republican credentials outside Massachusetts). Nor because Mitt is the most experienced at running a business (Donald Trump has actually managed a major company, while Mitt made his money buying and selling companies). Nor, finally, because he's especially charismatic or entertaining (Sarah Palin can work up audiences, and Mike Huckabee is genuinely funny and folksy, while Mitt delivers a speech so deliberately he seems to be driving a large truck).

Mitt Romney's great strength is that he looks, sounds, and acts presidential.

Policy wonks like me want to believe that the public pays more attention to candidates' platforms and policy positions. Again and again we're proved wrong. Unless a candidate is way out of the mainstream (Barry Goldwater and George McGovern come to mind), the public tends to vote for the person who makes them feel safest at a visceral level, who reassures them that he'll take the best care of the country: not because of what he says but because of how he says it.

In this regard, looks matter. Taller candidates almost always win over shorter ones (meaning even if I'd whipped him in a debate, Romney would probably still have won the governorship). Good-looking ones with great smiles garner more votes than those who scowl or perspire (John F. Kennedy versus Richard Nixon), thin ones are elected over fat ones (William Howard Taft to the contrary notwithstanding), and the bald need not apply (would Eisenhower have made it if Stevenson had been blessed with a thick shock?).

Voices also matter. Deeper registers signal gravitas; higher and more nasal emanations don't command nearly as much respect (think of Ronald Reagan versus Jimmy Carter, or Barack Obama versus John McCain).

And behavior matters. Voters prefer candidates who appear even-tempered and comfortable with themselves (this was Obama's strongest advantage over McCain in 2008). They also favor the candidate who projects the most confidence and optimism (think Franklin Roosevelt, Reagan, and Bill Clinton).

Romney has it all. Plus a strong jaw, gleaming white teeth, and perfect posture. No other Republican hopeful comes close.

What does Mitt stand for? It's a mystery -- other than a smaller government is good and the Obama administration is bad. Of all the Republican contenders, Romney has most assiduously avoided taking positions. He's written two books, but I challenge anyone to find a clear policy in either. Both books are so hedged, conditioned, boring, and bland that once you put them down, you can't pick them up.

Mitt is reputed to say whatever an audience wants to hear, but that's not quite right. In reality, he says nothing but does it in such a way that audiences believe they've heard what they want to hear. He is the chameleon candidate. To call Mitt Romney an empty suit is an insult to suits.

Yet Romney is gaining ground over Obama. According to the most recent Marist poll, in a hypothetical presidential matchup, Obama now holds a bare 1-point lead over Romney, 46 percent to 45 percent. In January, Obama led Romney by 13 points.

Why is Mitt doing so well? Partly because Obama's positions are by now well known, while voters can project anything they want onto Mitt. It's also because much of the public continues to worry about the economy, jobs, and the price of gas at the pump, and they inevitably blame the president.

But I suspect something else is at work here, too. To many voters, President Obama sounds and acts presidential, but he doesn't look it. Mitt Romney is the perfect candidate for people uncomfortable that their president is black. Mitt is their great white hope.


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: alldems4romney; backstabberromney; benedictromney; bigdigromney; dnc4romney; electability; iag4romney; image; ineligibleromney; kerry4romney; obama4romney; reich; reich4romney; romney; sharia4romney; truthers4romney
Taller candidates almost always win over shorter ones (meaning even if I'd whipped him in a debate, Romney would probably still have won the governorship).

No spit, you midget!

1 posted on 05/24/2011 8:18:37 AM PDT by FreeKeys
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To: FreeKeys
The MSM picking the candidate for the Pubs...

...again

(i’m just surprised they're not still backing mccain. after all, he was such a great campaigner.)

2 posted on 05/24/2011 8:21:10 AM PDT by 240B (he is doing everything he said he wouldn't and not doing what he said he would)
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To: FreeKeys
"....whip his ass..."

Good luck with that, you mental midget.

3 posted on 05/24/2011 8:25:06 AM PDT by Paladin2
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To: FreeKeys

This actually is pretty right on. One exception was Gore, who was slightly taller than Bush. Also, sociological studies have found hair is important: usually, the candidate with more hair wins. In the case of Obama/McCain, neither had hair but Obama had the perception of hair because as a younger black man, he “could” have it if he wanted. And I would agree with Reich that the “presidential look” is a very, very important attribute and one of the main reasons I don’t think Pawlenty has a chance. Cain, on the other hand, does.


4 posted on 05/24/2011 8:26:21 AM PDT by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: FreeKeys

Why have an election? Let’s have beauty pageant.


5 posted on 05/24/2011 8:29:44 AM PDT by Rennes Templar
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To: FreeKeys
Romney has it all. Plus a strong jaw, gleaming white teeth, and perfect posture.

Sounds like the author has a man-crush. In all seriousness, though, looking the part doesn't necessarily mean you can fill the role. Romney, Boehner, and Feingold are good examples. They have the perfect hair, manicured nails, authoritative voice, and year-round tan.....yet they all failed to deliver when it mattered most.

Give me substance, not style.

6 posted on 05/24/2011 8:30:15 AM PDT by edpc (I disagree. Circle gets the square.)
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To: FreeKeys

“To many voters, President Obama sounds and acts presidential, but he doesn’t look it. Mitt Romney is the perfect candidate for people uncomfortable that their president is black. Mitt is their great white hope.”

In other words, “If you don’t like and respect Obama, you’re probably just a racist, but you can prove you’re not a racist by voting for Obama.”

Worked before, and will probably work again.


7 posted on 05/24/2011 8:30:27 AM PDT by flowerplough (Obama: "Get back inside '67 borders." / Helen Thomas:"Go back to Poland and Germany!")
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To: FreeKeys

What a bitter, little pest this Robert B. Reiccchhhhhh is. A detestable, liberal fascist.

In the end, Reich and his ilk will always lose because of their ideas. Romney will never get to be POTUS because of his ideas. The Purple-Lipped WON is wrong for America because of his ideas!

Those on the Left could never admit this openly because it would mean an end to their way of life.

BTW- the same liberal drivel is proffered regarding Gov Palin. A pretty face, but a bubble brain.

President Palin will field-dress these weiners soon enough.


8 posted on 05/24/2011 8:30:47 AM PDT by Macoozie (Go Sarah! Palin/Bolton 2012)
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To: FreeKeys
Reich lost because he looks like an unshaved gnome or a troll.

Also, he was connected with FORD, CARTER and CLINTON - three mental midgets - at least in the areas of governance.

I prefer a candidate other than Romney - for MANY reasons.

But Reich is doing exactly what the National Democrat Machine wants - try to smear and discredit ANYONE who poses any POTENTIAL threat to Obama. By doing so, they will turn the campaign in 2012 from Obama’s failures and flawed background to the suitability of the GOP candidate.

So, if you like a particular GOP candidate - work for them and support them. But DON'T give ammunition to these damn rats by smearing any of the others as they just might be our only life preserver against Obama in November 2012.

AND, when it comes to PURE MALEVOLENCE, UTLRA SOCIALISM, BLATANT RACISM, PANDERING ISLAMOPHILIA, and ANTI-AMERICANISM, NO ONE even APPROACHS the FIEND in the White House!

9 posted on 05/24/2011 8:31:50 AM PDT by ZULU (Lindsey Graham is a nanometrical pustule of pusillanimous putrescence)
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To: FreeKeys
"He looks, sounds, and acts presidential"?

Mitt is smarmy and creepy. I wouldn't buy a used car from him!

10 posted on 05/24/2011 8:34:16 AM PDT by SWAMPSNIPER
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To: SWAMPSNIPER

or a new one for that matter
he’s the Republican version of Evan Bayh


11 posted on 05/24/2011 8:38:03 AM PDT by nascarnation
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To: SWAMPSNIPER

Three words....
Massachusets Health Care

nuf said


12 posted on 05/24/2011 8:40:43 AM PDT by Fred911 (YOU GET WHAT YOU ACCEPT)
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To: 240B
Yep. The Left telling us what a Republican or Conservative is supposed to be like. Just like they tell us that the TEA party is white, racist, homophobic, etc. This is their own internal projection of those who believe in American values.
13 posted on 05/24/2011 8:41:39 AM PDT by Clock King (Ellisworth Toohey was right: My head's gonna explode.)
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To: Fred911
I'm simply not going to vote for Mitt, he isn't substantially different or better than Obama and it's not likely that the democrats can come up with much worse.

I realize Mitt is what Massachusetts voters like, as well as what voters in large urban areas like, but I won't be complicit in allowing them to force feed their crap to my Nation.

14 posted on 05/24/2011 8:56:45 AM PDT by SWAMPSNIPER
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To: FreeKeys

I’m suprised at all of the outrage over this column....the basic points are true. The average American doesn’t give a crap about following politics and prefers candidates because of superficial reasons. Of course people who comment on political forums don’t fit into that category, so we can all see right through Willard.

I don’t think loser Romney will win the nomination because usually people voting in primaries actually follow politics a little bit and would know that Romney is a liberal. However, if Romney did win the nomination, I can totally see a lot of Americans liking him because of his squeaky, clean image.


15 posted on 05/24/2011 8:57:16 AM PDT by Turtlepower
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To: LS

Your comments are always wise and valuable, sir.


16 posted on 05/24/2011 9:01:24 AM PDT by FreeKeys (Those who'd legalize extortion, theft and plunder should never be allowed to vote)
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To: FreeKeys

So at the very end, he says “well racists will vote for Romney.”


17 posted on 05/24/2011 9:02:00 AM PDT by RockinRight (Cain/Bolton - the perfect ticket for America's future.)
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To: FreeKeys

Abe Lincoln may have been the butt ugliest president ever, good thing for him that there was no TV in his day.


18 posted on 05/24/2011 9:02:52 AM PDT by Graybeard58 (Eccl 10:19 A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.)
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To: Graybeard58

Yeah, but Abe overcame ugly with tall. Isn’t Reiccchhhhhh shorter than even tiny Tommy Daschle?


19 posted on 05/24/2011 9:06:30 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: LS

Kerry towered over Bush and had a much deeper voice.

But Bush was seen as the more manly candidate compared to the effeminate Kerry.


20 posted on 05/24/2011 9:14:26 AM PDT by Retired Greyhound
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To: Turtlepower

Obama was elected because voters are shallow.

It was the American Idol election.


21 posted on 05/24/2011 9:15:33 AM PDT by Retired Greyhound
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To: LS
Agree that the article is mostly correct. Unfortunately, most voters in the general election are concerned much more with style rather than substance, with sizzle more than steak. In that regard, Romney has that going for him. However, in the primary more voters are substance and issue oriented.

My main disagreement is that Reich states that Obama acts Presidential. Obama actually acts feminine and indecisive and even frail.

22 posted on 05/24/2011 9:17:03 AM PDT by MBB1984
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To: SWAMPSNIPER
"He looks, sounds, and acts presidential"?

Barf. This reminds me of David Brook's infatuation with creased pants.

Mitt is smarmy and creepy. I wouldn't buy a used car from him!


Hey! I resemble that comment!

23 posted on 05/24/2011 9:17:28 AM PDT by Servant of the Cross (the Truth will set you free!)
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To: LS
My wife, who is to the right of me (truly frightening if you knew me) say the GOP should go with Mitt because he looks presidential. When I point out that he is not a conservative and is a RINO at best, she gives me that Cuban stare and says "Do you want to beat Obama, or not?"

She guffaws at T-paw et.al..

Look, FReepers can make a great argument for an amazing, but obscure congressman like Mike Pence or Col. West (my favorites), but 1/3 of the voters will only pay attention in the last month or so.

You gotta look the part. Sad, but true.

Don't flame-if she or I could wave a magic wand we would be weeping tears of joy as Palin, West, or Pence were sworn in. Not gonna happen.

24 posted on 05/24/2011 9:26:28 AM PDT by MattinNJ (Will a hero rise in 2012?)
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To: FreeKeys
Based on Reich's analyis, Charlton Heston, would have easily won...and he was a true Conservative, at least in his later years...


25 posted on 05/24/2011 9:34:54 AM PDT by Signalman
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To: Retired Greyhound

Absolutely true. But the Swiftboats probably did more to win that election for Bush-—and, don’t forget this-—in Ohio they had a “gay marriage” initiative on the ballot. This was HUGE, and gave Bush Ohio by a comfortable, but not huge, margin (115,000 votes as I recall). Without those two things, Kerry would have won.


26 posted on 05/24/2011 9:36:06 AM PDT by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: FreeKeys; MattinNJ

Thanks. I think Matt in NJ makes some good points. My wife, who is not pro-life but is down-the-line Republican in almost every other way, likes the Mittster. On the other hand, I know that if he were the nominee-—coming from a Southern Baptist background as I did-—he would lose a significant chunk of the Baptist/conservative vote, just because he’s a Mormon.


27 posted on 05/24/2011 9:38:34 AM PDT by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: MattinNJ

I fear she could be right.


28 posted on 05/24/2011 9:44:34 AM PDT by SoDak
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To: FreeKeys

personally I think he kind of looks like Herman Munster


29 posted on 05/24/2011 9:44:40 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: FreeKeys
Mitt Romney is the perfect candidate for people uncomfortable that their president is black. Mitt is their great white hope.

He just had to do it, didn't he?


30 posted on 05/24/2011 10:03:20 AM PDT by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: FreeKeys
I'm not a Reich fan, but I have to agree somewhat.

20 years ago, it wouldn't be a contest. Mitt would probably have been the nominee last time. But, it's the age of quick archives and the internet. You don't have to be Winfield Scott to be deemed an inconsistent flip flopper these days, and have the connotations that come with it. Untrustworthy.

The other side of the looks and demeanor end of things is that in a bad economy, Mitt Romney looks and acts the part of corporate CEO, more so than even Trump. Romney comes out of corporate casting 101, but looks like the guy who lays off the workers.

Combine that and the flip-flopping, and people think he'd sell his family out for a nickel or power. Romney couldn't close the door in 08, and he had a much easier shot then than he does now post Obamacare.

31 posted on 05/24/2011 10:13:23 AM PDT by Darren McCarty (I am not lead by any politician. I am my own leader.)
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To: Retired Greyhound

Bush was also helped that John Kerry was a traitor back in 1972.


32 posted on 05/24/2011 10:16:22 AM PDT by Darren McCarty (I am not lead by any politician. I am my own leader.)
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To: FreeKeys

Reich meant this one, he made a lot of accurate observations.


33 posted on 05/24/2011 10:18:07 AM PDT by ansel12 ( JIM DEMINT "I believe [Palins] done more for the Republican Party than anyone since Ronald Reagan")
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To: LS; All
Voices also matter. Deeper registers signal gravitas; higher and more nasal emanations don't command nearly as much respect

I've always thought that. AND I've always thought that was one of Newt's fatal flaws.


(being a slippery chameleon among them)

34 posted on 05/24/2011 10:56:28 AM PDT by FreeKeys (“"I'm sick & tired of this Marxist demagogic rhetoric coming from the president..."-Rep. Allen West)
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To: edpc

It actually sounds like Robert actually was disappointed that Mitt is starting to show well against Obambi.

After all, he wasn’t saying Mitt was a good candidate. Just that there’s a perception he is because he looks like he fits the bill. He’s worse than x for this reason and y for this reason, and to call him an empty suit is an insult to suits, but hey, the Republicans are racists, so they’re going to pick Mitt because he looks more like a President than O.

All in all, it’s a nasty, vile argument from a nasty, vile little man.


35 posted on 05/24/2011 11:06:47 AM PDT by spacewarp (Palin/Rubio 2012..... Change we can actually believe in. Change we need.)
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To: ansel12

“[Unfortunately for Dems like Reich], Obama’s positions are by now well known, while voters can [still] project anything they want onto Mitt [as they did last time with Obama.]”

Having flirted with the truth, Reich then has to squander analytical points by playing the race card. The actual racists are those who continue to hold Obama to a lesser standard than the one applied to white presidents.

People who voted for Obama in the name of race and giving him a chance find that it hasn’t changed their lives for the better and he doesn’t appreciate their sacrifice.

Of course, we also don’t need Karl Rove telling us to go along with the establishment and stop trying to think for ourselves.


36 posted on 05/24/2011 11:12:14 AM PDT by Belle22
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To: SoDak

Me too. She’s always right.


37 posted on 05/24/2011 12:20:57 PM PDT by MattinNJ (Will a hero rise in 2012?)
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To: FreeKeys

Actually, that’s a good point. Although Lincoln had a high, screechy voice-—but in a different era-—while Stephen Douglas had a baritone booming voice.


38 posted on 05/24/2011 12:27:25 PM PDT by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: LS

Interesting.


39 posted on 05/24/2011 12:56:06 PM PDT by FreeKeys ("What this president has said & what he has done are completely unrelated."-Tom McClintock 3-10-11)
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To: LS
Although Lincoln had a high, screechy voice-—but in a different era-—while Stephen Douglas had a baritone booming voice.

I wonder, was photography far enough along so that people could see the candidates in the newspaper?

40 posted on 05/24/2011 2:07:42 PM PDT by FreeKeys ("Stupid people are ruining America," - Herman Cain)
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To: FreeKeys

No, Brady’s photography had just come into play during the CW, but they did have lots of lithography and portraits.


41 posted on 05/24/2011 2:29:30 PM PDT by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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