PHOTO INDEX: MICHIGAN GOVERNOR GEORGE ROMNEY AND HIS SON MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY BOTH APPEARING 40 YEARS APART ON THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE.
Mitt Romney left the Presidential race today and the way he did it was unlike the way in which his father exited the Presidential sweepstakes. George Romney, as we discussed in our weekly Friday feature "1968" (LuLac Edition # 410,) was chased out of the race by saying he was brainwashed in Vietnam by Lyndon Johnson's Generals. Mitt Romney left the scene today with his head held high and reputation pretty much intact. The Romney campaign was a victim of its time. In any other era, Mitt Romney would be the Republican nominee running away.
My father, as well chronicled in (LuLac Edition # 387 -See January '08 archives) hated Republicans. When the GOP held office, he always lost his job on the railroad and wound up in "the stinking cigar factory". But even with his disdsain for the party, I know he secretly admired the rich, moderate Republicans like Nelson Rockefeller, Charles Percy, William Scranton, and yes even George Romney. My father, though a partisan recognized that those Republicans were too rich to steal and had a noblesse oblige toward guys like him. Mitt Romney was the best of that world. My father would've loved him. Polished, articulate, faithful to his wife, 5 glowing kids with Pepsodent smiles, a successful businessman, the guy who saved the Olympics, plus having a ton of his own money made Romney, on paper, the ideal candidate to succeed the rigid, bumbling George W. Bush. But the Republicans, in particular the conservative wing of the party just didn't get him. That is, before it was too late. Mike Huckabee won Iowa and then John McCain started his run. The GOP conservatives never got behind Romney picking on his past stances, sometimes his religion and his money. They bolstered the poll numbers of a New York Mayor who had a campaign made of straw. The conservatives became infatuated with a TV image, Arthur Branch and were disappointed when he turned into Lonesome Fred Thompson. Duncan Hunter and Sam Brownback said they were the true conservatives but the GOP right wanted a star. Before they knew it, the wily former POW with the temper calmed down, talking in measured tones and won a lot of delegates. In the meantime, coming off Weight Watchers was an Arkansas politico who used to be a preacher talking like a cross between Dick Cavett and Gomer Pyle. His "aw shucks" demeanor gave him strength in the South and makes him an appealing Veep pick. Seeing this, all of a sudden the conservatives tried to hop on the Romney bandwagon but that was a tough thing to do since they were pouring sugar in its gas tank since the former Governor declared. Romney won a respctable amount of delegates but more importantly in the end, a respectable amount of conservative respect. He leaves the race as a viable road not taken by the GOP right. With the proper backing, he not only could've been a contender, he would have been the nominee. But not now, not in this time with a GOP battered by a failed two term (slap your forehead on that one!) Presidency, a fixation on the charisma of the late Ronald Reagan, and a complete loss of judgement. The GOP right used to rule the party, but instead they allowed circumstances to rule them. A candidate with no money in 2007, left for dead, beat them. And they had an alternative but ignored him.
Romney has a plan. He will play the role of Reagan in 1976, beam and support the party. Stand next to the elder McCain like the movie star Reagan stood next to Gerald Ford. He won't say a word but you can bet the GOP right will be saying, "which one should we have nominated?" He'll give a great prime time speech at the convention and if McCain wins or loses, he can fashion himself as the guy "they should've picked." And if the GOP is clever enough, perhaps in 2012, Mitt Romney might become the toast of the party instead of being touted as "an acquired taste". As Ferris Bueller said, "Life goes fast and if you slow down, you just might miss it". The GOP right was steamrolled by the McCain express and missed an opportunity with Romney. Life moves faster these days, ya know?
So Mayor Lou Barletta is running for Congress ignoring Joe Leonardi's advice to stay out. Ah hubris! Not more than 3 minutes after the Mayor stepped away from the podium, 11th Congressional District and 24 year incumbent Paul Kanjorski's office issued a missive attacking his honor. On the patented Barletta issue immigration? As Maynard G. Krebbs used to say, "Oh come now!" Kanjorski attacked Barletta for saying he favored privatization of the Social Security system. By the time this campaign rolls into high gear, Kanjorski's people will have voters thinking Barletta is casing the mailboxes of senior citizens to steal their monthly checks. Look for a spike in direct deposits as a by product of this campaign.