There was an article in today’s Boston Globe (not available on the Internet) about Mitt Romney’s move towards moderation in the late phases of the presidential campaign. It’s not a bad article, but it’s typical of mainstream media pieces of course it completely lacks a moral dimension. The article mentions the word Etch-a-Sketch about fifteen paragraphs in, and it quotes opponents decrying Romney’s cynicism, but it also quotes wily political veterans approving the pivot to the center.
What else can a reporter do? Apparently you can’t say that someone so utterly lacking in core convictions, so self-evidently willing to say whatever he has to say to get elected, is therefore manifestly unfit for office. In the same paper, though, the Globe editorial endorsing Obama gets it right: “Identifying the real Romney on any major issue — social, economic, or foreign — is impossible.”
I have been watching Romney for eighteen years now, and as far as I can tell, he has only one core conviction: taxes for rich people need to be lower than whatever they happen to be at the time. Absolutely nothing else seems to matter. This doesn’t mean he can’t get things done in a technocratic, numbers-driven way. But at this point, how can you believe anything the man says?
Barney Frank, in his delightful over-the-top way, gets it right. Seven years ago he called Romney the most intellectually dishonest person in the history of American politics. He stands by his statement today, except he’d strike the word intellectually.
I think politicians are by and large pretty interesting characters — that’s why I wrote a novel about one. Obama is a deeply interesting guy. The Clintons surely are as well. So are Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin, in their own ways. But Romney somehow just makes me sad. He’s obviously smart, and a decent guy in his private life. But beyond that, he’s got nothing. If he’s elected, I may have to retreat to my Arctic Fortress of Solitude and rethink my obsession with politics.