Mitt, Gore, Kerry: Hail to the Stiff?

As Mitt Romney takes another step to the nomination and gains momentum, the question of personal chemistry comes to the fore. Would Americans elect a president they viscerally dislike?

In a Slate piece titled “Romney is Kerry. Maybe Gore,” Jacob Weisberg argues:

“Romney strongly resembles two similarly unloved Democratic nominees from the recent past, Al Gore and John Kerry. Gore and Kerry both suffered from the same characterizations that get applied to Romney-—too wooden in person while too flexible in their views. Their supporters often argued that qualifications were what mattered. But ominously for Romney, both Gore and Kerry lost winnable races because of their flawed personalities.

“George W. Bush, on the other hand, got elected and re-elected, despite his enormous, substantive shortcomings, because ordinary people found it easy to relate to him at a personal level. They felt he wasn’t trying to be someone different from who he was.”

We are back to the “Would you want to have a beer with him?” argument, which in an era when TV debates keep flip-flopping frontrunners (remember Rick Perry until GOP voters realized he might dribble the brew on his manly chest?) is not as frivolous as it sounds.

The likability issue dates back three decades to Ronald Reagan, who beat Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, both of whom projected higher IQs but couldn’t match the Gipper’s Hollywood-trained talent to appear folksy and accessible.

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Author: ROBERT STEIN

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12 Comments

  1. Why should we believe the voters would be any smarter today than they were in the past.

    Today we have a president that has allowed government moneys to flow to banks to save the economy, but we have thousands who have lost their homes or in danger of loosing their homes. Nothing was changed in the legislation to help the home owner.

    We have banks that received billions in aid that was suppose to help everyone, but they only took the money they received at a very low interest rate and invested that money in investments that returned a profit. Only the senior managers with huge bonuses and the stockholders benefited while your neighbors might be in foreclosure. Nothing was done to insure home owners were helped when this was identified as a problem.

    We have money going to programs that were “shovel ready”, but they were not shovel ready as jokenly stated by the president in comments made a few months ago. Who finds it a joke when you or your neighbors are out of work?

    Unlike JFK, MLK and RR who inspired the citizens, we have a president that can not get the masses supporting his programs by positive means, so he uses code words “millionaires and billionaires” to divide the country, hoping that the poor and middle class will follow him and support his policies. Even Carter did not divide with rhetoric in his speeches.

    And finally, we have a presidents whose administration includes an attorney general whose department is responsible for the death of a border patrol officer and claims they knew nothing about the program that allowed guns to go to the gangs in Mexico. Wonder if a Bar owner who has a manager that allows someone to drive after drinking and gets in a accident can use “not knowing” when they are facing legal action for their business allowing a DUI on the road?

    So we will again elect our next president on looks and personality instead of competence, just like we did with “W”.

  2. Today we have a president that has allowed government moneys to flow to banks to save the economy, but we have thousands who have lost their homes or in danger of loosing their homes. Nothing was changed in the legislation to help the home owner.

    Direct quote John Boehner talking points aside most know it’s the congress, not the President, that pass laws and the Republicans that control the lower house have ignored this problem.

    If anyone’s to blame it’s the Republican obstructionists but they will be dealt with in November.

    I’ll leave it to others to dissect the rest of RP’s fact free rant.

  3. Do we want a leader who is wooden. A guy who has flubbed, missed targets, grimaces like crazy, had several setbacks this year and been called a loser. Yes, cause he won the Super Bowl.

    DDW, if you are out there, I said I would cover our big wager on a Rep. getting in the WH with my Super Bowl winnings. Well, I still might win, so get your $10 ready. If the Giants can win so can another stiff guy.

  4. “Do we want a leader who is wooden. A guy who has flubbed, missed targets, grimaces like crazy, had several setbacks this year and been called a loser.”

    As I read the above, I thought you were speaking of Pres. Obama.

    As I read the blogpost, I thought of another comparison, from years ago: Romney = Dukakis. I also think Romney = McCain. During his campaign, McCain was a stiff.

  5. SteveK..Isn’t it interesting that when everything goes well, the President gets all the credit and when things are not going well, congress gets the blame.

    It all comes down to leadership. If he was leading on the issues that made a difference, he would have come out and ask congress to amend the legislation that would have required the banks to lend the money and not sit on it. However, he did not do that, he went off on the 1% all while the bonuses for the 1% we going up due to profits made off the TARP funds.

    People can not have it both ways. If the president is responsible for the good times, then he is also responsible for the bad times.

    But few realize that the president was not given the powers to really make a difference by the founding fathers, they gave that to congress. So when things go good, it is congress and when things go bad, it is also congress. Maybe 10% of our voters realize that. The other vote on looks.

  6. RP says: It all comes down to leadership. If he was leading on the issues that made a difference, he would have come out and ask congress to amend the legislation that would have required the banks to lend the money and not sit on it. However, he did not do that, he went off on the 1% all while the bonuses for the 1% we going up due to profits made off the TARP funds.

    That’s not quite how it happened RP. George W Bush was President when TARP was passed and signed into law.

    The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is a program of the United States government to purchase assets and equity from financial institutions to strengthen its financial sector that was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008. It was a component of the government’s measures in 2008 to address the subprime mortgage crisis.

    The TARP program originally authorized expenditures of $700 billion and was expected to cost the U.S. taxpayers as much as $300 billion. The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act reduced the amount authorized to $475 billion.

    Fortunately for all of us under President Obama’s stewardship:

    By March 3, 2011, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stated that total disbursements would be $432 billion and estimated the total cost would be $19 billion. This is significantly less than the taxpayers’ cost of the savings and loan crisis of the late 1980s [Caused by President Regan's deregulation of the financial industry] but does not include the cost of other “bailout” programs (such as the Federal Reserve’s Maiden Lane Transactions and the Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

    Thanks for motivating me to fact check your comments. :)

  7. My President should entertain me.

    and mixing W and Obama’s record is a ploy by conservatives to take the blame off of the Rep party and place it on Obama.

    The funniest instances are when they use numbers from “Obama’s Presidency” that start when he won the election, not when he took office.

    kinda like when Romney says that the job numbers are better because people are looking forward to a Rep Presidency…you really have to be an idiot to believe that.

  8. RP, you are referring to things going well or badly when a Democrat is in the White House.

    As for the comparison (shouldn’t it be “Romney, Gore, Kerry”), Kerry really wasn’t that wooden, while Romney is, of course, but less obnoxious and harmful policy-wise than Gore ever was or would be.

    (What if Obama didn’t replace Biden for VP with Hillary Clinton, but with Al Gore?)

  9. xyzyx
    I’d rather imagine that Gore had replaced George W. Bush in his rightful place in 2000– then none of the harmful policies of the Bush/Cheney years would have destroyed my country’s prosperity.
    Nothing like an activist supreme court to pick our leaders for us, eh?

  10. bluebelle, fair is fair. After the election, the Florida elections commission (probably as an after-action-review) determined that Bush would have, in fact, won the state (by a few thousand votes). SCOTUS did not pick our leader for us.

    Having said that, the Florida election BALLOT was deeply flawed. It used a left-right listing for candidates but a center punch for voting. Thus, Pat Buchanan (name next to GWB, Kerry directly under GWB) pulled a huge upset in a predominantly retired Jewish region of life-long Democrats (as Jon Stewart put it).

    Never the less, the ballot issue of where the names were placed was not in contention with SCOTUS.

    @SteveK:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I was worried that I would have to be the one to fact-check RP. One point to your fact-check though: I remember reading that eventually the Federal Government technically came out ahead by a few dollars on the Savings & Loan debacle. That is not to say that it had no cost; time is a cost. Thus, we likely lost money due to interest payments made on bonds that originally covered the costs. Never the less, your claim that TARP cost less is unlikely to be true.

  11. Buffett, can’t complain, he got a deal from GS that you and I couldn’t and, oh s***, probably did, or can, sell his shares at the 15%, filthy-rich on the backs of hard-working Americans, SM rate.

  12. “Nothing was changed in the legislation to help the home owner”

    This statement is also not true. There were quite a few things done to help home owners. Of course, more could have been done — still could be. The very best way to help home owners now, though, is to make sure they have jobs and income to make payments on their mortgages.

    But more to the point of the article, Obama is very likeable. Even if you don’t agree with his policies, he’s got a great smile, seems very affable, and is frequently funny. Compared to the snearing grimmaces and arrogant bumbling of our last president, Obama wins easily in the personality department.

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