Because I've been noticing something in the air, something about the body language, something about the chaos surrounding Mitt's campaign. . .Because njhoo's current Rec List diary, spurred me from silence to expression. . . Because I woke up this AM and found myself thinking, "Romney doesn't want to be president," I will say this.
What I will say is just a personal response to a general feeling I have about the man. Poor man. And that is this: He is terrified of the possibility of being elected.
I mean, look at him. He appears nervous, stiff, ill at ease no matter what the public venue. He looks like a man searching for a way out of windowless room. Listen to him. He makes endless gaffs. Are they really gaffs? Or are they honest remarks that somehow escape his efforts to suppress them? He gives every impression that he wants to utter that one unconscionable thing that will bring out the hook that blessedly yanks him off the boards.
Romney looks to me like a man who doesn't want to do this any more, who knows, deep in his being, that he doesn't qualify for an appearance on the world stage as president of the United States.
I look at Willard "Mitt" Romney and see a man who desperately wants someone to save him from the mad carousel he's on that has him spinning and tilting, leaning one way, then another, clinging desperately to a slippery pole, trying to appear at ease. He looks like a man who got on a horse that he can't ride. He looks like a poor little rich kid who has been bullied by his frat brothers to take a dare that appeared to be a harmless thrill when seen from the front porch but when he gets in the action, turns out to be dangerous rumble in the street. He looks like a boy on a high dive, who knows the only way down if he doesn't want to humiliate himself is to take the plunge even though he knows he can't swim. He looks like an infant who wants his mommy.
Just look at him. It's hard not to feel a pang of sympathy.
His handlers keep telling him he's got a chance to win; they stuff skewed polls under his breakfast croissant that show him neck-and-neck with President Obama; they croon in his ear that the Republican base sees him as the Great White Hope who will "take back" the country from the upstart n-word. They remind him that lots of powerful people have invested millions of dollars in to protect their interests.
His wife -- oh, his wife -- has his back -- she may be holding the knife of her ambition in the hand that presses against his spine, but she has his back. She's staked her reputation by publicly touting him as a loving partner and on his appearance of being a humble and caring man. He can't disappoint her.
His sons -- they worship him, they want to be like him, and at least one of them may be better at what he's trying to do than he is himself. He can't disillusion them.
Who can save him?
From where he stands, it looks like only he can save himself -- at least for long enough until some hero comes along and pulls his bacon out of the fire. Like the reincarnation of movie John Wayne.
How can he save himself without destroying the illusion, without breaking his marital bonds, without indemnifying his investors, without appearing to be a hopeless failure?
He can do only one thing.
He can make himself inadequate.
He can say the "right" things that move him farther and farther to the right of where the country is and closer and closer to where the 25% of the Tea Party lunatic fringe is. This will push him beyond the pale of moderate Republican voters.
He can appear dull witted enough to not know his own mind so that the voters who despise candidates they label flip-floppers will turn their backs on him.
He can couch racial insults among euphemisms, muffle them as whistles only a dog can hear so that those sentiments will strike empathy among his base but be unattributable as his own. That will alienate those inured to deciphering code and catching the silent shrill of a dog whistle.
He can treat his dear wife, Ann, graciously, let the public see how he adores her, maintain a posture of endless courtesy and good manners but affirm nothing that lets women voters feel assured that they have rights equal to his own or that he will fight for them.
He can draw the veil and just not see the plight of the downtrodden, or the immigrant, or the "preexisting condition," or the unskilled laborer, or the homeless, or the man or woman who lives on Main Street, not Park Avenue or Wall Street. Perhaps, even if they're invisible, not too many of them will be disenfranchised.
All he need do is be likeably inept for the next 60 days and the looming terror of being president of the United States will fall on the shoulders of someone of stronger character, of greater intelligence, and of profound abilities and qualifications who will assume the responsibility of doing for him and the Nation what needs to be done. If he can only be inadequate enough, President Barrack Obama will save him.
And that is what I think Willard Romney is doing.