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Monday, February 06, 2012

George Romney never had a little tip jar

Of the controversy surrounding Mitt Romney's profession that he isn't "concerned about the very poor," Stephen F. Hayes of the Weekly Standard artfully explains a rather subtle but important reason why "movement conservatives" were dismayed.

They understand, of course, Romney's full intentions and the entire context of the remarks. And like Romney himself, movement conservatives contemplating Romney as the potential GOP nominee wish he could better repress these self-inflicted rhetorical wounds; his considerable communication skills are offset heavily by something of a tin ear.

Yet even leaving these issues to one side altogether, movement conservatives reacted to Romney's in-context argument with disappointment, according to Hayes, because Romney

seemed utterly unaware of a long strain of conservative thought on the morality of capitalism. He seemed oblivious to the argument ​— ​central to the conservative movement ​— ​that free markets allow the poor to transcend their position, that poverty is not destiny....

This was, in other words, an opportunity that Romney missed, one in which he could have made a compelling pitch for why even the poor ought prefer Obama's defeat. Hayes continues:

But [Romney] received some help from Marco Rubio, who had shared his own story in the Republican response to the president’s radio address a week earlier.

“My father was a bartender,” Rubio said. “And I thank God every night that there was someone willing to risk their money to build a hotel on Miami Beach and later in Las Vegas where he could work. I thank God that there was enough prosperity in America so people could go on vacation to Miami or Las Vegas. Where people felt prosperous enough to have weddings or Bar Mitzvahs and, by the way, could leave tips in my Dad’s little tip jar. Because with that money he raised us. And he gave me the opportunity to do things he never had a chance to do.”

I think Hayes gets it about right when he concludes:

If Romney wants to return to Tampa to accept the GOP nomination, he would do well to spend more time before then with Rubio. And maybe, in a more formal way, afterwards.

That much seems a realistic hope, I think. It's sad, but probably true, that a key reason why Romney is so obviously uncomfortable about his own wealth and success in particular — and perhaps so uncomfortable in his own skin more generally — is that he hasn't internalized and committed to this morality of capitalism. I'm sure Romney understands the theory; on other occasions I've heard him articulate it well (if perhaps too dispassionately for my tastes). But to curtail these sorts of awkward gaffes and turn them into something which could help him win November if he's the GOP nominee, Romney would need to claim, own, and release his own embarrassment over, his own successful striving to achieve the American Dream.

That is probably not a realistic hope, however; and thus the potential importance to Romney, as it was to McCain, of a Veep nominee who can help him mend fences, rally the faithful — and yes, preach the morality of capitalism.

Posted by Beldar at 01:56 AM in 2012 Election, Budget/economics, McCain, Politics (2012), Romney | Permalink


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(1) DRJ made the following comment | Feb 6, 2012 10:00:47 AM | Permalink

Good advice. I hope the Romney team listens.

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Feb 6, 2012 3:33:31 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Yes. Once again, MR is shooting himself in the foot, leg, kidneys, and heart. Incidents like these make me think that shooting himself in the head would be superfluous. Unlike McC, though, I don't think the equivalent of Sarah Palin on the ticket would give MR the fits of jealousy that McC showed. Maybe there is hope.

We have a long road ahead of us.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(3) LibertyAtStake made the following comment | Feb 11, 2012 6:10:57 PM | Permalink

The country club dining room is no place to find an articulate conservative. You can find conservatives, yes - just not the kind that understand why they are.

“Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

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