Barnett, friend of Romney for 14 years: “Right now, Romney is running a campaign of empty platitudes and constant attacks”

“ROMNEY FACES ANOTHER PROBLEM,” writes the remarkably candid Dean Barnett in an exquisitely reasoned and well argued essay titled Romney and the New Paradigm.

… All the Republican candidates substantively stand for pretty much the same things. The key question for the Republican electorate on most every issue will be, “Who do you trust?” For instance, Rudy Giuliani says he’ll appoint judges cut from the same cloth as Roberts and Alito. The Mayor will insist Republican voters can trust him to keep his word on that matter if elected. His opponents will say otherwise.

After 10 months, the race has boiled down to its essence. Each candidate will be left to say that he’s the trustworthy one, and that his opponents are dishonest politicians saying anything to gain office. In other words, the last four months of the nomination process promise to be relentlessly ugly.

This isn’t Romney’s home turf, and not because he’s too gentle a soul to get down in the mud. Anyone who knows anything about the companies Romney ran (Bain & Company and Bain Capital) knows that the kind of guy who excelled in those arenas can sling political mud if he’s of a mind to do so.

The problem for Romney with the 2008 election’s emerging paradigm is that he’s most impressive when displaying his command of the issues. If Romney’s going to spend most of his time insulting the other guys and saying they can’t be trusted, then his campaign won’t capitalize on his greatest strengths–his affability and his intelligence. His campaign will neutralize its candidate’s greatest strengths.

I’ve known Mitt Romney for almost 14 years. I’ve always thought he would make a great president. Romney’s intellect and genuine decency are truly impressive. Yesterday, his campaign unveiled yet another new theme: “Change begins with us.” While this nugget probably knocked some focus group in Sheboygan on its collective ear, its sheer vapidity is almost painful. Right now, Romney is running a campaign of empty platitudes and constant attacks.

If the Romney campaign allows the country to know the man that I’ve gotten to know, Romney has an excellent shot at being the next president. If Romney’s campaign continues on its current path, he’ll likely be folding up his tent shortly after Iowaetc., etc.

The emphases are ours, all ours.

This essay is so impressive. Finally, a friend of Romney who is not a fawning sycophant.

We would argue that Romney cannot go negative because Romney’s own negatives are historically, unprecedentedly high, higher than any other candidate whether Republican or Democrat. Barnett, OTOH, argues that Romney should not go negative as this detaches Romney from relying on his command of the issues to build his case for a Romney presidency. Romney loses when the discussion turns to trust, character, and who will most reliably represent Republican principles, whatever those happen to be anymore.

Here is our problem with Barnett’s reasoning: “[Romney’s] brain,” Barnette claims, “truly doesn’t have an off switch. He is always thinking, always calculating. He has a restless mind that surrounds and smothers every issue and every problem. In truth, his combination of electric intelligence and relentless intellectual curiosity is his greatest strength.” Greatest strength?—hardly. Not when what is required—or what is hoped for—from a candidate is both clarity and, especially, gravity—gravitas—a sense of weight or weightedness, a sense of not getting blown about by gust of new or contrary data. Constancy, consistency—this is what inspires trust. This is what Romney simply cannot deliver. See:

Rubin: Romney “doesn’t seem to like his audience much, and they don’t like him,” in which Jennifer Rubin argues with respect to Romney’s allegedly “restless brain”: “Mr. Romney has also made a fetish of checking the policy boxes for social conservatives and rolling out a slew of policy papers with accompanying PowerPoint presentations. Voters soon sense that he has many ideas but little gravitas. He has lots of pitches—the “three-legged stool” of conservative values, “change” and “private sector experience”—but no overarching theme or core. If Mr. Giuliani is tough and Mr. Thompson is soothing, what is he?”

yours &c.
dr. g.d.


  1. 1 an angry Romney continues to lash out against Giuliani « who is willard milton romney?

    […] as true—the very point he’s trying to establish, i.e. his alleged conservative values. Romney is running a campaign of empty platitudes and constant attacks, writes Dean Barnett, a friend and close associate of Romney for 14 long […]

  2. 2 Ms. Meg Crawford: “There’s something in me that just says ‘no’ [to Romney]” « who is willard milton romney?

    […] Barnett, friend of Romney for 14 years: “Right now, Romney is running a campaign of empty platitud… […]

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