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'We're in negative space' on new Mitt Romney info

During the holiday break, the NYTimes ran a really pretty hilarious feature on how Mitt Romney makes small-talk with voters on the trail. He apparently has an odd habit of trying to guess the age and ethnic extraction of strangers. The feature also divulged that:

"When making small talk with locals, he peppers the conversation with curious details. ('We stayed in the Courtyard hotel last night,” he told a woman at a diner. 'It’s a LEED-certified hotel.')"

On the other hand, why do I really need to know this? No reason I can think of. As amusing as the Times piece was, the one that got me laughing was a reaction to the piece by Ana Marie Cox (who was famous as an early blog star under the handle "Wonkette" and who now blogs for the Guardian)

Beneath the headline: "Breaking: Mitt Romney is kind of awkward," Cox wrote:

"It turns out that Mitt can be 'uneasy' and 'unnatural' and 'strains to connect in a personal way,' traits that will come as no shock to the millions of viewers of the umpteen presidential debates, but may serve those citizens who have spent the primary up to now huddled in a cave, waiting for the apocalypse. I speak here, of course, of Michele Bachmann supporters.

I don't want to poke too much fun at the Times for reporting the story – you've got to fill space somehow, and since he's spent over five years running for president, the number of things new to say about Mitt Romney has already long passed zero. We're in negative space as far as information about Mitt goes, where every piece of information passed along about him actually causes us to know less."

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Comments (6)

This is what happens when a candidate's main claim to fame is money.

These stories of Romney's stiffness remind me of a scene from HBO's excellent miniseries, "Rome", in which Atia, the mother of Octavian, chides the taciturn Octavian for not being more chatty. Octavian replies, "Mother, you know I cannot talk small."

No surprise, really, as Romney is about as distant from the lives of the "plebs" as was Octavian.

And no, I am not otherwise comparing Romney to Augustus.

Help me Romney help help me Romney!

Old 60's tune by the preach boyz

/[Romney]he has spent over five years running for president/ And I am still not sure how he will govern the country.

Except for a very, very few, campaigning for public office must be among the world’s most grueling, humiliating, and naturally-awkward endeavors unless you’re pathologically extroverted. If you’re naturally something of a private person, and most of us are not so socially-inclined that we can think of nothing more fun than greeting strangers at bus stops at 7 in the morning every day for the next two (or in Romney’s case, five) years, it must be fairly excruciating to have to keep trying to think of witty and/or meaningful things to say to people we’ve never seen before, and aren’t likely to ever see again.

A friend of mine has spent much of his adult life in politics – if you have policy ideas that you want to see translated into genuine action, politics is typically the only way to do that – and, while he enjoyed his time in office, and found the political process simultaneously fascinating and frustrating, he seems genuinely to have loathed campaigning. I confess the prospect of a campaign has always been enough, all by itself, to keep me from even considering an attempt at public office.

A relative works for the DMV in another state, and is regularly and frequently subjected to verbal abuse for things over which she has no influence at all – various state laws regarding vehicle registration, payment of sales taxes, etc., etc. I spent one campaign season pounding pavement, knocking on doors, handing out literature, and so on, and vowed never to do it again, not because the work itself was so difficult, but because I grew very tired, indeed, of being greeted with hostility.

Because of that relative’s experience, and my own, even when I think their policy proposals are among the most stupid ideas to ever see the light of day, I sympathize with every candidate, even Mrs. Bachmann, who is trying to win the allegiance of voters on the most tenuous of grounds. It just can’t be any fun to shake the hand of someone you know thinks you’re an idiot. Doing it hundreds of times a day for an extended period strikes me as equivalent to torture.

So, yes, we’re probably in negative space regarding Mr. Romney, and I’m not surprised that he’s grasping at conversational straws when he meets yet another voter about whom he knows literally nothing. In that regard, at least, I’m glad I’m not in his shoes.

It's possible to tell a great deal about Mr. Romney's approach to life and all things in it that when he meets people and attempts to make small talk, he talks about himself,...

rather than doing the far more natural, far more engaging, far more useful thing:

asking them about THEMselves and demonstrating actual interest in those he seeks to govern.