The Erstwhile Conservative has written an interesting post about an aspect of Mitt Romney’s character as revealed by his failures to correct unfair disparagements of his rival during political gatherings. A woman in one incident accused President Obama of “treason”. This incident offers a snapshot into Mr. Romney’s character and Duane was right to recall an instance in which John McCain defended his rival’s character from a snarky comment. That was one of the few instances in which I saw the old McCain surface, the McCain I thought I knew but who was swallowed up by hubris.
I agree with Duane that Romney’s failure to deal properly with such things indicates a lack of political courage, but it’s more than that I think. Consistent with his flip-flopping on issues I sense a persona that is overly cautious. He wants to consolidate his positions while giving nothing away, and he wants to do that in the comfort of privacy. He distrusts his own instincts. In any confrontation he displays a strange little smile which, I sense, is a facade behind which he is plotting, as data on a spread sheet. Because of this behavior we have been denied a glimpse of the real Romney, I think, except for a few occasions. One was the debate in which he offered a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry. The message of that seems to be that for him, money is preeminent in all matters political.
So much of a president’s job is image and leadership, so I have concerns about a candidate who may be overly cautious and calculating. I recently read in a new book, “The Presidents Club”, about a previous president who was something like that, and this insight into his character surprised me.
Herbert Hoover was, before the depression of course, widely considered a management genius, confident, capable, calculating, efficient, inflexible. He had a proven track record, running large business projects successfully and with great efficiency. But, as we all know, when it came to persona, imagination and political leadership, he failed miserably. The parallel is remarkable, the historic paradigm for the difference between running a business and running a government.
The opening chapter of the book is available at Amazon.com for kindle, pc or mac. It describes how after VE Day President Truman called upon a grateful Hoover to apply his management skills to the daunting task of saving a ravaged Europe from starvation. It was the kind of project he could handle, and therein lies the cautionary tale.