I feel sorry for people running for office. People are following you around with microphones and cameras all the time, hoping you will mis-speak or trip or do something they can get a story out of. It’s a microscope that would make anyone look bad. The pressure we put on politicians and even minor celebrities is really crazy. In fact, I often think it takes someone with a tough skin and oversized ego to even consider running for office, and I guess they know what to expect.
That said, what you say matters. When Mitt Romney said “I like to fire people”, it sounds bad alone, and even in context, it’s a bit odd. Today he added “I’m not concerned about the very poor” to the list. In context, and even when asked about whether that’s what he meant to say, he said the very poor have a safety net, and if there’s holes, he’ll fix them, but he’s really only concerned about the middle class (ie. most likely voters).
I want to like Mitt. But he’s been so busy trying to please everyone, he’s sounding more and more like an empty suit every day. He sounds like a guy who hasn’t had to do hard work for a long time, lives in a world where he pretty much gets what he wants, when he wants it, and I’m just not sure he’s concerned about much more than the math. I’m sure he’s a great business guy. I’m sure he can smell opportunity. I’m even pretty sure he’s a decent enough guy, and that he loves his family and all the rest. But I think he lacks an understanding and compassion that I’d like our president to have.
The job of President is like being the nation’s dad. You have to get out there and deliver the discipline when it’s needed. You have to make tough decisions about the direction of the family (with ample input from the Congress, which I’ll say plays the role of the Wife in this tortured analogy.) You have to be able to go down and hug people who are at their lowest after a disaster, and we have to know that you mean it and feel their pain. You have to make us feel like a community, a whole unit, working towards the same important goals.
Bill Clinton was great at this role. Obama is pretty good as well, although he’s a little more stand-offish, like when your dad reviews your report card. I worry Romney is like the Dad who gets the kids paraded around a few times a year but other than that, is not very hands on. He doesn’t look like the guy who’s out there coaching his kid’s team and showing a kid how to make a birdhouse. He’s not your boy scout troop leader type.
There’s something basically sterile about Romney that makes you feel that he isn’t very empathetic with what a middle class family looks like or how they have to make choices and compromise on things, like if a vacation is even doable this year, or choosing whether they can afford to have kids enrolled in any activities. I mean empathetic, because he might understand the money part, but I don’t think he knows what it feels like in his heart. And I think that’s what comes across to all of us watching his every move on TV whether we like it or not. He seems like he’s getting worn out and annoyed from this crazy, seemingly endless, job interview we call the presidential campaign. It’s as if he’s only moments away from saying “Look- what more do you want from me? I’ve told you everything I can. Just hire me or not already, ok? I’ve been working my whole life to win this prize, and I can’t believe you are still asking me questions.”
I believe Romney sincerely wants to be president. But I don’t think it’s for the honor of representing our Country and for bringing us all together as a single unit. I don’t think he looks at it as a fiduciary duty, where every dollar spent and every action taken is for and on the behalf of each and every citizen of this Country. I think it’s about him, and what the Presidency will get him, not about being Dad. And that’s what makes me the most disappointed about what I’ve heard from him so far. It’s not about us.