Politico is running the most peculiar headline: "Defining moment eludes Mitt Romney."
Isn't his problem precisely 47 percent too many defining moments, from $10,000 bets to empty chairs?
And isn't one month before the election a trifle late for candidate "definition," especially for a candidate who's been running twice as long as the current president has served?
Lectures a Republican strategist, "They’ve got the same people, doing the same thing they’ve been doing for eight years and there is no creativity." Says another, "Get rid of all that staging. Be real ... something dramatically real."
Reminds me of a story. During the '56 Stevenson-Eisenhower rematch a Democratic insider dropped by the California home of Humphrey Bogart, who was dying of esophageal cancer, to pay respects and shoot the political breeze, a conversational exercise that always lifted Bogart's spirits. Ominous news, mentioned the insider; it seemed there was a rumor floating about regarding Adlai's having once had an affair. The campaign was worried the story might get out. Worried? retorted Bogart. It's the best thing that could happen to Stevenson, he half-joked. It might prove to voters that he's human after all ... or as today's GOP strategists would put it, that he's "something dramatically real."
In this, if you any longer care, there's something of a paradox. Mitt Romney, more than any nominee in American political history, has campaigned for the White House as the "perfect" candidate--as the consummate businessman, the untarnished family man, the flawlessly nimble "fix it" guy and even as the impossibly, impeccably presidential-looking guy. And yet never has any candidate ever come across as something so flawed, so dramatically unreal--and undesirable.