Mitt Romney has been criticized from both the Left and the Right for his perceived aloofness and lack of charisma, his “likeability” if you will.
Most of this apparent coolness is due to a lifetime spent in the business world, not the world of politics. One of the best self-imposed rules used by tremendously successful businessmen and women is “Always deliver more than you promise”. Using this axiom as a guide, Romney invariably promises less than he thinks he can accomplish. President Obama, on the other hand, invariably promises more than anyone could deliver, proving that he has no experience running a business.
Romney is usually careful to craft his message in those terms, and avoids making too many sweeping statements along the lines of “Two chickens in every pot”. All that is fine and admirable in an executive. The problem is that Mitt Romney is not, currently, the executive. He is, to be brutally frank, simply a job applicant.
Therein lies the problem.
He is only a candidate for the job of President. Restrained promises might be perfect for the State of the Union address, but not on the campaign trail.
And why do we call them campaigns? The word is invariably misused by politicians. They use the word to create the image of a military operation, with all its accompanying patriotic fervor. The real goal of a political campaign is simply to get them elected. That’s it. Just get them elected.
The simple fact is that the only thing that anyone running for office is doing is applying for a job. And it’s a temp job, at that. Remember that, it’s only a temp job.
Temporary. Short term. Easy to replace.
Very few of us have ever run for office. But I am sure that most of us have, at least once, applied for a job. I know that I have. So we are all very familiar with that process.
In the real world there are a lot of things that have to happen between seeing a “Help Wanted” ad and actually getting a paycheck.
First, each of us has to demonstrate that we have some skill that shows that we can actually do the job. Seems pretty reasonable, right? Well I think nearly everyone agrees that Romney has demonstrated considerable executive skill, so that particular hurdle is not insurmountable.
Second, we have to sit through at least one face-to-face interview. For some jobs you have to go through a team interview. You know the kind where there are a half-dozen managers asking questions and you have to deal with all of them.
Sounds a lot like a press conference with unfriendly people asking what are, frequently, unanswerable questions.
If you’ve ever been through an ordeal like that, you might begin to think that those Christians in the Coliseum surrounded by lions had it pretty easy.
The purpose of these hurdles (or serial humiliations while you are wearing a tie, if you prefer) is to convince the manager or managers who are responsible for making the decision of whom to hire that you are not only competent, or even that you would excel at the position, but that you will “fit in”. That they can work with you. That they are comfortable with you. That they view you as one of “our kind of people”.
Obama is gifted at that particular kind of con artistry. He can buy a round of beer at a county fair in Iowa, and appear to be just an ordinary guy, while planning to have Wagyu beef when he returns to the White House later in the day. For those who have never had this particular cut of meat, there may be a very simple reason for your lack of personal knowledge of how it tastes – Wagyu (or sometimes called Kobe) beef, raised domestically, sells for about $100 a pound.
Yep, just what every ordinary guy who is “our kind of people” has when they get home after a hard day of shaking hands.
Mitt Romney has to remember that he is applying for a job, and he has to convince voters that he is one of them. Yes, he has wealth. He earned it. He might modify the line from a Wall Street brokerage firm advertisement from a few years back so it reads
“I am wealthy, yes. But I made my money the old fashioned way. I worked hard for it. I didn’t inherit it. I didn’t marry it. I didn’t get a Solyndra loan guarantee. I didn’t have inside knowledge of new laws or regulations that were going to be imposed. I earned every single penny – and I want to make sure that, as President, each American has at least the opportunity to do the same thing. I’ll never tell you that ‘you’ve earned enough’. If you’re successful, I won’t punish you, although, to be honest, I’d probably buy stock in your company, after I leave the White House.”
Gov. Romney is applying for a job. He has to remember how it was when he graduated from college and was looking for that first job. He has to remember when he had no experience to back him up. And he has to remember how hungry he was back then. He has to remember how, back then, he worked to be seen as a guy who would “fit in”.