If Romney could just learn to fake it: Over and over, the news is a novel! Just as we have long said!
In this morning’s New York Times, David Brooks sketches a novelized format Candidate Romney should ape:
BROOKS (2/10/12): Republicans are especially suspicious of the other-directed type. They feel as if they are battling against the headwinds of a hostile elite culture. They want their candidate to have built his temple upon a rock, to possess an unshakeable set of convictions, to be impervious to the opposition of Washington’s entrenched interests. They also believe that the next president is going to have to make some brutally difficult decisions in order to reduce the debt. This is not a task for someone who is perpetually adjusting to market signals.Brooks is sketching a novel the pundit corps likes to type about major candidates. Here’s the problem: By now, it’s abundantly clear that this novel doesn’t fit Candidate Romney. For good or for ill, it’s abundantly clear that Candidate Romney’s outer pronouncements don’t flow directly from his inner core. For good or for ill, he doesn’t possess an unshakeable set of convictions.
If Romney is to thrive, he really needs to go on an integrity tour. He needs to show how his outer pronouncements flow directly from his inner core. He needs to trust that voters will take him as he really is. He needs to tell his own complicated individual story and stop reducing himself to the outsider/businessman advertising cliché. He needs to tell us what about his character is more fundamental than his national park patriotism and his skill at corporate restructuring.
And not only that:
Is the next president “going to have to make some brutally difficult decisions in order to reduce the debt?” Candidate Romney has already proposed extremely large tax cuts for the highest earners. These proposals dig the deficit hole much deeper. They show that he won’t even make the obvious decisions where this topic's involved.
As he continues, Brooks keeps typing the Official Approved Pundit Novel. This would make a conventional Hollywood film. But how could it be about Romney?
BROOKS (continuing directly): He needs to stop opportunistically backtracking on his Medicare position, just to please whatever senior group he happens to be in front of. He needs to show that he is willing to pursue at least a few unpopular policies, even policies that are unfashionable in his own party. Since many people fear that he is a suck-up, it would actually help him at this point if he violated party orthodoxy in some bold and independent way.He needs to find a policy that is so important to him that he’s willing to risk losing the presidency over it? Romney is 64 years old. If he hasn’t already “found” such a policy, where would he find one now?
He needs to step outside the cautious incrementalism that is the inevitable product of excessive polling and focus-group testing. He needs to find a policy like entitlement reform that is so important to him that he’s willing to risk losing the presidency over it. The eternal rule of presidential politics is that a candidate has to be willing to lose everything if he’s going to win everything.
Brooks wants a Sister Soulja moment. He also wants a dramatic, principled stand. We don’t agree that a candidate must conform to this dreamy template. But these are ideas that come from a novel—and its story-line doesn’t fit Mitt.
Our news has been novelized for a long time. In this case, it’s a bit like the old saw concerning sincerity. If Romney can learn to fake this novel, all else will follow from there!