Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the awkward Mitt Romney

And now, a word on politics.  If you know me at all, or read either of my blogs, you won't be the least bit surprised to know that I plan to vote for Barack Obama for president, as I did in 2008.  I'm not thrilled with his performance as president on many fronts, but he has faced unprecedented opposition, and has done some big things despite it.  That said, I am terrified of the prospect of a President Mitt Romney.  Not so much on policy grounds, though I don't like his policies either for the most part.

I had the opportunity to "meet" Romney twice at public events.  (I put that in quotes because I don't think one really meets a politician the way I might meet you at a coffeeshop.  But we shook hands.)  One was in 1998 at a City Year fundraiser (to their eternal credit, both the Romneys and Bain have been big City Year supporters since day one), and once in 2002 at an event for inauguration of the Senate at the Massachusetts State House.  The first time Romney wasn't running for anything, the second he was running for reelection as govenor.  I was performing on both occasions, so I had a chance to be the proverbial fly on the wall for much of the events.  

I've thought about both these days a bit since it became clear Romney would be the nominee, and what stands out to me to this day is how ridiculously awkward he was at both events.  He seemed to lack even the most basic "shmooze" skills that are central to politics at every level.  he was stiff, smiling a forced smile and holding himself at somewhat awkward angles.  And when his presumptave opponent for govenor came into the room in '02, they had an almost comically odd exchange, laughing too big and not exactly sure how to handle the cameras that were there.  

All of this came to mind last night when the clip surfaced that dominated the news this morning, with Romney saying basically that 47% of the American public are moochers.  It's not that he believes this that shocks me- a lot of Republicans do.  It's that he said it, and how he said it.  It was so coarse, so impolitic, not to mention so wrong.

And here lies my greatest concern with a President Romney- if he can't handle a roomful of small-time Massachusetts politicians with any semblance of grace, and if he can't open his mouth at a fund-raiser without putting a size 16 foot in it, what would he do negotiating with Democrats in Congress, or even worse, with the leaders of Russia or China or Pakistan, where there are clearly lives on the line?  For whatever reason, I don't think he has even basic people skills, and on that ground alone, regardless of his ideology,  he shouldn't be president.  Thanks for reading- thoughts most welcome.