I really, really wanted to like Mitt Romney. I did like his dad whom I believed to be a man of conviction. George Romney was one of the last Republicans to support the Civil Rights movement when the party’s ideology was switching driven by Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” (Nixon canvassed the Southern vote with a veiled appeal to white voters using phrases like “law-and-order” to counter the push from Democrats to support civil rights). Mitt, like his father, was a great moderate Republican Governor and I fully supported Romneycare.
Yesterday I read something from a Republican that made a lot of sense in explaining Romney’s recent loss. Representative Pete Sessions explained:
“Mitt Romney appeared like a kid who showed up for his science project and the teacher said, ‘Explain it,’ and Mitt couldn’t do it. His ‘dad,’ Paul Ryan, explained it to him, but Mitt didn’t get it. … That’s why we lost the last election.”
Now with all due respect to Representative Sessions for coming up with his science analogy, Paul Ryan is not Mitt’s dad. George Romney is. Mitt was trying to follow his dad’s footsteps running for President driven through public service and some vindication for his father. Mitt outpaced his father by winning his party’s nomination which his dad had failed to do. George’s presidential failure came after his statement about “brainwashing” by generals in Vietnam, who tried hard to convince him that the war was winnable. It wasn’t a winning position for the senior Romney and he lost to Nixon.
Mitt did seem like a kid at a Science Fair, however, whose dad (George, not Ryan) had groomed him for public service, but somehow Mitt never understood his father’s core direction. This might sound harsh, but how does one explain his conversion from a moderate Republican into the neo-con, tea-party disciple that didn’t fit the George Romney mantra? His flawed strategy peaked in the first debate but was flooded with inconsistencies as the election moved forward.
History – and maybe me – can be a harsh judge. Eventually the Republicans will figure out who they are and understand the pivotal middle ground. In the meantime, it is refreshing to have them talking about science.