Does anybody like Mitt Romney anymore?
At this point in the campaign, the whole GOP apparatus is still pretending like crazy - pretending he can win, pretending they're behind him, pretending they can make head or tail of any of his positions on anything.
But it seems like they're all just waiting for their cue to stop pretending.
You could see the strain at the convention, where no one much wanted to mention their own nominee. Chris Christie made the least pretense, openly treating his own turn at the podium into an acceptance of the 2016 nomination. (Such a classy guy.) But you could feel the strained smiles with all of them.
Certainly Mitt's fellow nominees aren't losing any sleep right now - I'll bet Gingrich, Santorum, Paul, Cain, and Bachmann are enjoying themselves watching Mitt squirm almost as much as we Kossacks are. Probably more.
Does Mitt's own campaign team like him? Highly doubtful. We know how Mitt treats those he considers social inferiors - let alone mere employees. And by all accounts, Mitt has conducted the whole campaign in "decider" mode, ignoring all of the advice from his seasoned campaign team and plowing ahead with his own course at all costs. If there's anything we've learned this year, it's that Mitt doesn't take kindly to being questioned.
(Even George W. Bush, who wasn't very bright about most things, knew enough to shut up and let Rove and Cheney run the show. But Mitt, like Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, thinks he knows best all the time.)
Mitt has spent a fortune (as usual, someone else's fortune) on his campaign, and I have an irresistible picture of how his "genius ad men" talk about him when he isn't in the room. Remember when Sterling Cooper got the jai alai account? A rich, gullible client willing to throw unlimited amounts of money into a doomed cause? The operative mode immediately became: (1) Rack up the maximum billable hours to milk that cow dry. (2) Do as half-assed a job as you can get away with. And (3) Suck up to the client as much as it takes when he's there, then laugh at him whenever he leaves the room.
I think Mitt's engendered that response in a LOT of the people who've worked for him over the years.
Between the ad men and the political operatives, there are going to be some really nasty tell-alls coming from members of Team Romney in 2013, mark my words.
The one percenters like the Koch brothers probably don't like Mitt either, but they don't have to. When you own a dancing horse, you don't have to worry whether he likes you or not - you just have to know he'll dance on cue.
Reporters hate Mitt. One, he treats them like servants; two, he won't give a straight answer about anything; three, he won't play the game with "accommodating" the press (remember them complaining about Romney herding them onto buses in Europe?); four, he's a dick. They've been polite so far, but their genuine frustration is starting to bleed through. When even Fox News is complaining about you, you know you've lost ALL of the press.
That takes care of the political machine. What about the voters?
We knew right from the start of primary season that the fundamentalists never trusted him. There's the Mormon thing, there were all his on-record "leftist" positions from the 1994 Kennedy race; and as always, hanging over everything like the Great London Killing Smog of 1952, there's Mitt's singular lack of personal charm.
The libertarians and hardcore Tea Partiers never liked him (see same reasons above), and stuck to Ron Paul to the bitter end. Romney burned whatever was left of that bridge quite effectively with that big dramatic "backstabbing" at the convention. Not to mention saying the other day that, oh yeah, he might want to keep some parts of Obamacare after all. Which would be like Obama saying he wants Sarah Palin as his new running mate.
Will any of these voters be pissed off enough to vote for the black guy? Not likely. But there should be a significant number of protest votes siphoned off to Gary Johnson et al., and even more just staying home in pique on Election Day. (Libertarians are great at pique. Some would say it's what they do best.)
At this point you have to wonder, is Mitt trying to lose? Limelite makes a convincing case that he is. Remember Sanjaya Malakar on the 2007 season of American Idol? He was relentlessly attacked and made fun of across the country, and his performances got so bizarre that you had to conclude he was TRYING to lose - in effect, saying "For the love of God, someone please vote me off already!"
But that's all debatable. The point is, up to now Mitt Romney has led a charmed life. His family's wealth and connections have made certain that he's never HAD to ingratiate himself to anyone or face criticism. Ever.
As chairman/CEO/Grand Pooh-Bah of Bain Capital, no one could ever question or criticize him, at least not to his face. As a Mormon bishop and God's Chosen Head of the Household, certainly his wife and family were not allowed to cross him - or even, heaven forbid, get in line ahead of him for dinner.
He even lucked into the ideal career for his particular set of non-people-skills! Usually to succeed in the business world (let alone politics), you have to have a certain amount of social skills: persuasion, likeability, ability to work well with others. Mitt has none of these. But when your only real interaction with the businesses you just bought is going to be "selling off their assets for scrap," those social skills become positive liabilities.
Mitt had the cushiest job in the world, able to do the one thing he loves most (racking up obscene amounts of money) without ever having to persuade ANYBODY in the world to like him. And yet he left this behind to enter politics, of all fields! Politics, where everything depends on making people like you! Persuading them of your views! Working with fellow politicians, who don't even have to "do anything you say or get fired"! Going out and interacting with people - even poor and unconnected ones! And having to pretend like you're enjoying it!
It's as though Stephen Hawking decided to abandon astronomy and higher mathematics, and instead try out as an NFL running back.
Worse, it's as though he then paid off the NFL to install him on the Patriots' offense, then keep insisting to the world how WELL he's doing at it. Eventually, their pretended enthusiasm will wear off, and they too will join in the general feeding frenzy.
Mitt Romney assuredly does not like this strange new world he's in - a world where peons get to ask him rude questions (i.e., any questions); people question his God-given authority all the time; and worst of all, past a certain point, no one is particularly impressed that he has all the money in the world. Not to mention, he has to keep pretending enthusiasm for the race right up until Election Day, and keep putting himself out there for MORE abuse and ridicule.
I'm torn on whether he actually still wants to win at this point. Certainly, he wants the title a lot more than the job itself. Some, like Limelite in the diary linked above, think he's actually trying to throw the race whether he'll consciously admit it or not, and they have a point. Others insist that Mitt has had this sense of his own God-given INEVITABILITY as President for his whole life, and is so hard-headed that he really does still think he can win. Who can say?
Either way, I'll stake my reputation on one prediction. The day after the election, Willard "Mitt" Romney is going to disappear from public life, and go back to his comfortable bubble to spend quality time with his money and his family, in that order. He will never again address any public gathering that doesn't have "stockholders" or "executive board" somewhere in the title.
And except for his family and the servants, who will have to bear the brunt of Mitt's bitter rage and anger at Destiny Denied, we'll all be happier for it. Mitt Romney most of all.