Mitt Romney’s dim bulb problem

After watching the campaign Mitt Romney and his team have been waging thus far, I’d venture to say that if he loses this election, his $200 million net worth is going to come in handy — to buy an island somewhere to escape to from the conservative wrath that is going to rain down upon him.

Mitt Romney's Michigan win (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Growing up and living most of my life in Chicago, having god-parents who were Democratic precinct captains under the great Richard J., as well as winning public office myself, I find myself absolutely confounded by Romney’s campaign.  Do I believe that Romney needs to respond to every criticism thrown his way?  No.  Every ad, every Obama surrogate’s comment?  No.  But, there’s a certain segment of the American population, the segment I call “dim bulbs”, that Romney has to contend with if he’s to win this election.

Dim bulbs have no monopoly on gender, ethnicity, education or income.  Their brain wattage is not enough to keep a candle lit.  They’re perpetually on the dimmer switch, and go through life with “whaaaaa?” and “ooooh”.  They think Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are the 2012 version of Walter Cronkite.  They, not the independents, will sway the election.  The bulbs watch the campaign ads, hear the sound bites, and file the subliminal memories away until they resurface on November 6 in the polling booths across the nation.   Obviously, because Romney isn’t responding to and refuting the Obama ads, they must be true.  Since he’s not releasing his tax returns, he has something to hide and is corrupt.

I do believe that Romney’s a decent man, certainly in the husband/father/grandfather category.  And, his tenure at Bain had its share of highs and lows.  Were there some things he could have done differently in hindsight, probably.  Businesses succeed, businesses fail.  No one is guaranteed success, because it not only takes hard work, but some smarts, and luck, as well.

But Romney’s problem is Romney and his campaign staff.  His advisers are running this campaign, thus far, as though their man was running for CEO of the United States, not Commander-in-Chief.  Additionally, they are gaffe prone, as we’ve witnessed with Eric Fehrnstrom and recently, with Andrea Saul, who enraged the conservative base with her comment on Romneycare.  They’re not heeding the advice of experienced, election-tested people — professional, business and pundits — who mean him well.  As Romney said back in the days of the Michigan primary:

“You know, it’s very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments,” he said. “We’ve seen throughout the campaign that if you’re willing to say really outrageous things that are accusatory and attacking President Obama that you’re going to jump up in the polls. You know I’m not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support.”

He said: “I am who I am.”

Yeah, well, Mitt, I don’t need to be electrified or electrocuted, but I do need to have the sense that you’re in it to win it.  The most enlivened I’ve seen you to date was in your response to the “you didn’t build that” comment, and more recently, telling Harry to “put up or shut up.”  And you did jump in the polls.

Given the tough economy, and the fact that we live in 24/7 information overload, people have been forming their opinions for the past year.  The “dim bulbs” and the much of middle America haven’t seen the real Mitt, nor do they know of his modest upbringing, his wife’s breast cancer and MS, his charitable work, his family, values, etc.  Now is the time for Romney to start moving the dimmer switch upwards and point the dim bulbs into the age of enlightenment.

Romney has been playing it cautious and trying to remain and look like “presidential” timber.  We get it.  Now, we’d like to see the timber frame the house, and understand how he’ll furnish the inside.  Especially if he wants that next house to be the White House.



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