we ask about Romney: does getting defensive and argumentative with a waitress smack of a great leader to you?

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mitt Romney was about a minute into an answer about his commitment to fighting the global spread of AIDS and health care diplomacy on Wednesday when a waitress behind the counter yelled out a question … the story continues as reported by the estimable Michael D. Shear for Washingtonpost.com’s The Shear.

The dialog is painful to read. Note how Romney tries several times to recite his talking points—in vain.

[Romney:] One of the things I’m proud of doing in my state is putting on track a plan that gets everybody health insurance,” Romney began, seeing an opening for his standard stump speech about his efforts as governor of Massachusetts.

But Griffin was in no mood for platitudes, and interrupted.

“After we pay our huge deductibles for our insurance and our cost for our prescriptions, there’s nothing left,” she said.

“Are you a Massachusetts resident?” Romney asked.

“No I’m a New Hampshire resident,” Griffen said, and then added, before Romney could jump in, that “we pay over $1,000 a month for our insurance. Then we have co pays. Every time you go to the doctor, it’s $50 a visit. Then you have co-pays for our prescriptions. Can you tell me what your co pay is?”

“Yes,” Romney said. “$10 for each prescription.”

“That’s very nice isn’t it?” Griffin answered dryly.

“Yes. What are yours? Romney asked.

“Mine are like $30-$50. I have three sick children.”

A moment later, Romney tried to get back to Massachusetts and his stump speech. “One of the things I thing is important to do–as you’ve heard me do as governor across the border–is to find a way to get health insurance for all our citizens…”

Griffin interrupted again. “Yeah, but how are all your citizens…”

“You know,” Romney quipped, “if you’d like me to answer the question I will.”

“Well,” Griffin said, “but how much are your citizens paying for deductibles? Same as you?” “Well, how much?”

Romney stumbled for a moment, then got his footing as he used the question to launch into an explanation of the need for choice in health care. “Everyone has their own plan. Because in my state there is private insurance and we get to choose the policy we’d like” … more

Does Romney sound like a leader to you? No. He sounds like an angry department of motor vehicles clerk.

For us this is yet another indication of Romney’s strange naivete—or is it hubris?—who knows?

Question: Did Romney at any moment in the conversation believe that he could say anything that could address this woman’s concerns? Did Romney at any moment in the conservations believe that the woman would be persauded from the empirical experience of her suffering by the monotone recitation of Romney’s views on policy or his achievements as a governor? Romney comes off sounding heartless, bloodless, gutless, spineless, and mindless. Anwser: Yes, apparently, Romney did believe—G-d help him, but he honestly did.

For us this further testifies to the apolitical and authoratarian instincts of Willard Milton Romney (a theme we develop here and here): Romney is unschooled, untrained, and untested in the subtleties of deliberative reasoning, the sort of reasoning that born of the habit acquired through expecting, and receiving, serious rebuttals to your claims, some that you can answer, and some that you cannot.

And this man wants to represent conservative views and policies? This man doesn’t even know himself (as we argue here), so how can he know us!? How can he represent us?!

We conclude by quoting Aristotle from his de Topica:

A man—this means you, Romney—should not enter into discussion with everybody or practice dialectics with the first comer as reasoning always becomes embittered where some people are concerned. Indeed, when an adversary tries by every possible means to to wriggle out of a corner, it is legitimate to strive, by every possible means, to reach the conclusion; but this procedure lacks elegance.

In this case it was Romney who “wriggled” and “by every possible means.” So maybe we should address our comment to the waitress who ran circles around the hapless, helpless, and hopless former governor. In any case Romney’s procedure lacked elegance. Oh my G-D did it lack elegance!

yours &c.
dr. g.d.

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