March 31st, 2012

Romney squared

In 2008 I wrote a post entitled “Wanting a cool and sexy Prez,” in which I evaluated Obama and previous presidents on the dimension of cool:

Maybe it’s come down to this: choosing a President is now mostly about style rather than substance.

And it now occurs to me that one of the reasons for the widespread antipathy to Romney (even from some of his supporters) is that he’s not cool. Actually, in the obsolete vernacular of my youth, he’s square (or “a square”).

And that’s “square” not as in the Cub Scout Promise* (“be square,” which used to make me giggle as a child), but square as in this clip, where Romney would fit in well in the Pat Boone role, taking lessons in hipness from Maynard G. Krebbs and Kookie:

*I just learned that in the 70s, as part of a general re-organization and supposed modernization of scouting:

The Cub Scout Promise was changed from “to be square” to “to help other people”, as the term square went from meaning honest to rigidly conventional.

It figures.

35 Responses to “Romney squared”

  1. expat Says:

    I also think there is resentment that he is rich. Of course, if he had made his money in a cool way like say Steve Jobs it would be less of a problem. Santorum’s constant reminders of his being outspent played on the rich theme at the subconscious level.

  2. rrpjr Says:

    I’m not sure that’s the reason for the antipathy. I love squares. Calvin Coolidge is my favorite president.

    No, think it’s got more to do with the fact that Romney is a chronic liar and equivocator and pseudo-conservative sell-out, a poor and unlikeable politician who can’t alter his popularity despite endless investments of time and money, a weak candidate unable to define the terms of or a race or drive a narrative, a man with no demonstrable skills confronting the Left or even identifying it yet shamelessly willing to introduce Alinskyite tactics into a Republican primary race. That is, in brief, a toothless, oafish, out-of-touch, weak and dishonest political clod and loser.

    I can predict the dreary pattern of Romney’s collapse against Obama in my sleep.

    But in truth, I only really began to appreciate my “antipathy” when he borrowed Leftist talking points to scare-monger Rick Perry’s Social Security Ponzi scheme comments, and then when he came to the defense of the MSM over Newt Gingrich’s incisive and righteous critiques.

    The GOP has done it again. But I suppose we’re really to blame for allowing it.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    rrpjr: note that I didn’t say Romney’s squareness was the reason, merely a reason (as in “one of the reasons”).

    Your comments are typical of the bile spewed at Romney by those self-described conservatives (and some liberal trolls masquerading as conservatives) who not only hate him, but exaggerate and/or misrepresent his flaws and use a double standard to judge him versus his opponents. It’s really a fascinating phenomenon.

    Not all criticism of Romney is of this type, or course; some is quite legitimate, because he is a flawed candidate (like all the others). But a surprising amount of it is. These issues have been aired on this blog and others for many many months.

  4. Curtis Says:

    Superb piece of rhetoric, there, rrdrr. But Obama fits your model and he is quite popular.

    Romney, as a Mormon, has already overcome that huge obstacle to popularity. He is, afterall, more popular than any other Republican candidate.

    Romney, as an elite and rich Republican, has already overcome that huge obstacle to his popularity. He is after all, more popular than any other Republican candidate.

    Romney, in essence, started with more handicaps and preconceptions and has survived. Look for him to continue his increase in popularity. The big secret is this: He is no longer unpopular.

  5. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    I think you have hit on something here, neo. I have known quite a few Mormons and the ones who were serious about their religion and following its tenets were rigidly conventional in the sense that they were very earnest about being less sinful. To a sinner like me, they seemed too uptight to ever really enjoy life. At a much later remove and a dollop of life experience tossed in, I am far less judgmental of their approach to life. Romney has that earnestness and desire to be a person whose sins are few. He also impresses as someone who believes he can help other people – as per the Cub Scout oath. IMO, it shows as the main feature of his persona. Yet, he does not come across as preachy and holier-than-thou, as does Santorum at times.

    The fact that he got rich in the investment world also makes him somewhat off putting. Average voters don’t know anyone like that, and considering the state of their 401-Ks, IRAs, etc., seems too good to be true – ie maybe he’s a smooth crook. The average citizen has little trust in anyone who was ever associated with Wall Street.

    Those are Romney’s negatives to overcome and I don’t know exactly how he could do it except by trying to be someone he isn’t.

  6. rachel Says:

    But in truth, I only really began to appreciate my “antipathy” when he borrowed Leftist talking points to scare-monger Rick Perry’s Social Security Ponzi scheme comments, and then when he came to the defense of the MSM over Newt Gingrich’s incisive and righteous critiques.

    That would be the same Newt whose campaign unleashed the Michael Moore-worthy (and Michael Moore-praised) “King of Bain” movie, and who was followed into “vulture capitalism” OWS territory by Rick Perry? The Newt who bewailed all the poor little grandmothers that would be deported by Romney’s cruel immigration policies? That Newt? Oh, that Newt and Perry wouldn’t go near any leftist talking points, no sir. Not to mention Newt’s “Romney refused to feed Holocaust survivors kosher food” Florida radio ad. That’s not leftist… that’s just despicable.

    And *when* did Romney come to the defense of the MSM? I must have missed that.

    Oh yeah, and the term “Alinskyite” has lost all useful meaning if it’s made to designate perfectly ordinary and legitimate primary campaign tactics, employed in every primary campaign since the beginning of time. Negative ads? Quelle horreur! I guess that makes Romney no better than Obama!

  7. rrpjr Says:

    neo-neocon Says: “Your comments are typical of the bile spewed at Romney by those self-described conservatives (and some liberal trolls masquerading as conservatives)”

    Interesting. And when was the last time you heard a “self-described conservative” or “liberal troll” critique Romney for being inadequate to the task of fighting the Left? Or for using Leftist talking points? Or for coddling the MSM?

    I could just as easily assert your comments are “typical” of blinkered and deluded RINOs’ who see any critique of Romney as the product of counterfeit conservatives and “liberal trolls”, and who seem unwilling or incapable of recognizing the historical failures of the GOP (perfectly captured in the Romney model) to call out the Left, and who cling to the ideal of the mealy-mouthed moderate who daren’t offend some delicate political “center” (which their candidates never end up winning anyway). But nevermind — what in my critique was incorrect? Is it false that Romney cannot improve his popularity (it’s currently tanking against Obama) despite six years of running and around $150 million invested (modest estimate); is it false that he’s never demonstrated the abilty to drive a narrative against the Left (witness his hapless collapse against Ted Kennedy in 1994); is it false that he’s incorporated Leftist strategies — vicious carpet-bombing lies — against Republicans but won’t say “boo” to the Left; is it false that “I’m a Progressive” Romney is a pseudo-conservative sell out (uncritical accommodations to Leftist environmental schemes in Mass, Romneycare); or that he’s a poor politician (just today we see how ineptly he’s responding — again — to calls for his tax returns. He bizarrely links their release to Obama’s release of his private discussions with foreign leaders. Huh? And this after months to prempt this issue. This is classic Romney — caught flat-footed and defensive, and then blurting out a weird, inapt response. Who is this clown? Where did he come from? Would he even be here if not for his personal millions, preternatural ambition and numbskull establishment backing? Has he contributed anything to the intellectual or moral conservative storehouse or policy legacy?

    Romney is the worst and hollowest GOP candidate in my lifetime. He makes Dole and Ford and McCain look like towers of character and electoral dynamism. More importantly, he’s the worst candidate at the most critical moment in our history, i.e., of Leftist cultural apotheosis.

  8. Mr. Frank Says:

    Another use of the term square was in square shooter, an honest person. I guess that’s not cool. Such people do not normally engender the type of venomous attack exemplified by rrpjr. He doth protest too much.

  9. neo-neocon Says:

    rrpjr: trolls such as yourself, whether from left or right, neglect to notice what a person actually said, such as when I wrote in my comment to you, “Not all criticism of Romney is of this type, or course; some is quite legitimate, because he is a flawed candidate (like all the others).” But noticing that wouldn’t suit your purposes, would it?

  10. rrpjr Says:

    rachel Says: That would be the same Newt whose campaign unleashed the Michael Moore-worthy (and Michael Moore-praised) “King of Bain” movie, and who was followed into “vulture capitalism” OWS territory by Rick Perry?”

    Newt’s critique of Bain was not even remotely as you describe. The idea that all aspects or variations of capitalism are irreproachable, or that there are not both less worthy and more worthy expressions of Capitalism, is idiotic.
    http://legalinsurrection.com/2012/01/selling-out-capitalism-in-the-defense-of-romney-and-bain/

    “And *when* did Romney come to the defense of the MSM? I must have missed that.”

    Yes, apparently you did.
    http://amerpundit.com/2012/01/25/romney-defends-left-wing-media-from-gingrich-attacks/

  11. Curtis Says:

    Duh, mr whatever:

    Is it true that Romney cannot improve his popularity (it’s currently tanking against Obama):

    Fact: Romney is not “tanking.” Hello exaggeration. Romney is consolidating his support and reaching out to moderates and independents sceptical of Obama. Far from tanking, he is ascending. Sorry for you but good for us.

    is it false that he’s never demonstrated the abilty to drive a narrative against the Left:

    Note Romney’s position against Russia. That position is against the Left. And remember that Romney, as a rich Wall Street Republican is automatically against the left. I’m confused about your arguments. Romney is a what? Socialist? Amoralist? I don’t think so.

    Bye bye.

  12. rrpjr Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    rrpr: trolls such as yourself, whether from left or right, neglect to notice what a person actually said, such as when I wrote in my comment to you, “Not all criticism of Romney is of this type, or course; some is quite legitimate, because he is a flawed candidate (like all the others).”

    I noticed it. However you did not address my critiques but rather said they were typical of a troll. You did not discriminate between what was “legitimate” or trollishly illegimate. Now you plainly call me a troll. You cannot follow your own injunction.

    So I’m a troll. Fair enough. Still, my critiques and views of Romney’s trajectory are either substantial and valid or they are not.

  13. rrpjr Says:

    “Note Romney’s position against Russia. That position is against the Left. ”

    Note: that’s not a narrative. It’s a comment. And also note: he felt compelled to modify his comment soon after. Narratives are deeply committed and sustained arguments which influence events.

    “And remember that Romney, as a rich Wall Street Republican is automatically against the left. I’m confused about your arguments. Romney is a what? Socialist? Amoralist? I don’t think so.”

    Virtually everyone in Obama’s administration is a rich Wall Street operator. To suggest Romney accrues some existential credit in forming a narrative agaist the Left for this reason alone is laughable. And I don’t know what Romney is aside from a pseudo-morph. I only what he is not: a capable and savvy political warrior equal to the task of taking on the Left.

  14. neo-neocon Says:

    rrpjr: one of the favorite pastimes of trolls (from the right or left) is to come onto a blog and try to make everybody dance. The dance can take any number of forms, but a favorite one is for the troll to lead with a long list of accusations that would take a lot of work to refute but are relatively easy to refute if a person wants to put the work in. The idea of the troll is that it’s very very tempting to the people on the blog and/or the blogger to put in that work and dance to that tune, in the interests of truth (and, of course, of defending their own positions).

    And this is true even though the blogger and the commenters have repeated the same points ad infinitum and (ad nauseum) before to other trolls and other commenters. The game also generally involves the troll’s moving the goalposts any time one of his/her charges is answered.

    It’s a lovely game, isn’t it?

    I’m not playing. But others have responded to you here.

  15. Curtis Says:

    Good point, rrdrrr, that virtually everybody in Obama’s cabinet is a Wall Street kiss ass. But that truth is not recognized by many (unfortunately) and such recogniition would be disatrous to Obama’s election.

    Still, big Left is suspecting Obama’s loyalties. Obama is pulling a Hitler. He’s switched from brownshirts to big business but both will be confiscated in his plan.

    Your argument is fairly persuasive and consists of the argument of conspiracy: that both sides are really one side and we are distracted by the supposed war of the “two sides.” Unfortunately, no real evidence of this conspiracy has every been put forth. Where is it? Can you supply it?

    How about “the Protocols of Zion.” Where do you stand on that?

  16. rrpjr Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    March 31st, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    No, it’s not a game. It’s my country. I grew up on the Left and am too aware of how they play THEIR game and make US dance. And the GOP obdurately refuses to learn. I’m sick to death of it, and it sickens me to contemplate the prospect of putting forward a popinjay like Mitt Romney at this moment in history. I only make the points in the hopes of yet averting a disaster.

  17. rrpjr Says:

    Curtis Says:
    March 31st, 2012 at 4:20 pm
    How about “the Protocols of Zion.” Where do you stand on that?”

    No imputation to conspiracy intended. Just the same basic assertion that Romney won’t cut it against the Left.

  18. Curtis Says:

    Well, that was my argument but I’ve since been convinced otherwise. I think Romney can and will clean Obama’s clock. Lot’s of little hints. May be my own hopes and God knows I’m guilty of projections. Still. If Romney is given an energized base of conservatives, he will act upon their proposals. So what if he is only an actor, he is our actor and we will pull his strings. The bulk of America is conservative, religioius, moral, and working. We want jobs, not money.

  19. neo-neocon Says:

    rrpjr: maybe you’d feel less ill if you paid more attention to who Romney actually is and what he’s actually said and done and less attention to talking points on far left and far right about him.

    Oh, and it would be a good thing if you were to learn the definition of the word “popinjay,” in case you don’t already know it.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    I’m pretty neutral on Romney. My view on the last election in the disaster called the US timeline is that he was better than McCain. Open primaries and other corrupt election choices removed the abilit y of the electorate to make their choice. Instead the choice was made for them. This is a micro issue that was a sign of the greater macro issues in the nation.

    Technically Romney doesn’t have to know how to defeat the Left. All he has to do is to appoint his War Ministers the Breitbarts of the US and the Breitbarts will fight the Left effectively. Obama put up how many czars with dictatorial powers? A few people think it can’t be done. That’s just defeatism. Often the only way for one side to win a war is to adopt the winning side’s tactics, to support an original strategy.

  21. vanderleun Says:

    Here’s the new Romney campaign song, It’s Hip to Be Square.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB5YkmjalDg&ob=av3n

  22. vanderleun Says:

    It’s not too hard to figure out, you see it everyday
    And those that were the farthest out have gone the other way
    You see them on the freeway, It don’t look like a lot of fun
    But don’t you try to fight it; “An idea who’s time has come.”

    Don’t tell me that I’m crazy
    Don’t tell me I’m nowhere
    Take it from me
    It’s hip to be square

  23. Ymarsakar Says:

    In Democrat fiefdoms like New Orleans and Chicago, Republicans and Democrats are allied. nationally, it’s harder to see, with only a few individuals like Noonan contributing to the Democrat war chest. They tend to get sparked up by people like Sarah Palin. If they are a threat to their Republican social status, they will ally with the Dems temporarily in order to acquire self benefit.

  24. rickl Says:

    I’ve been trying to avoid Romney threads, but rrpjr pretty much speaks for me. Well said.

  25. Parker Says:

    rickl,

    We often see eye to eye, but when it comes to voting in 2012 we differ. Romney is far removed from the candidate I would like to support. However, he is not BHO and that is all we can expect at this particular crossroad in the decline of America.

    Romney in the Oval Office would be a vast improvement compared to what now infests that room (when not on AF1) today. Is Romney a solution to the economic-fiscal decline that is almost inevitable? No, of course not, but he — like Ryan — might be the beginning of reversing the propeller before the ship collides with the iceberg.

    At a minimum, Romney as POTUS will give me a year or 2 or breathing room to further prepare my extended family from what I see as the inevitable Great Depression II. Personally, if I could wave a magic wand and make DC disappear into a black hole I would not hesitate to send them all into molecular oblivion. Alas, magic wands are the subject of fantasy and fairy tales.

    BTW, rrpjr is a running dog lackey.

  26. Nanlove Says:

    I would like everyone to write their best, non-copied poem about love. About happy, positive love.No negative or break up like.I’d like to see what the writing world looks like today.Thank-you!

  27. Parker Says:

    Interesting, Nanlove. I’ll take the bait…

    After all these years
    The scent wafting from her body
    Still excites me
    Despite the sags and blemishes
    Of 40 plus years.
    Her face and aging body
    Sleeping, while I stay up late
    Typing banal thoughts on neo-neocon,
    Is the harbor of familiarity
    Where I curl up skin to skin
    And slip into peaceful slumber.
    We share an embrace
    That death can not sunder.
    We are flesh, mind, spirit
    Welded together by experience.
    I am a fortunate one
    To be beside her.

  28. Matthew M Says:

    A guy who lives in a house behind a white picket fence and looks good in shirt sleeves (rolled up, of course) looks pretty cool to me.

  29. foxmarks Says:

    I’ve been too busy in meatspace to keep up with things around here. In case anyone was wondering, rrpjr is not my sock puppet.

    Negative campaigning is how victory is achieved. Whatever Mitt and Newt have done that is “Alinskyite” is to their credit.

    The intermittent musings here and around the intertracks about why Rmoney is not wildly popular already begin to form their own bubble of delusion. The justification, which neo does expertly, is Mitt is the least-flawed candidate available. People can’t see his true record no matter how frequently they are pointed to it because they have their own superficial and psychological problems that prevent them making a mature compromise. Anybody but Obama.

    Rmoney is not merely a flawed candidate. He is a defective candidate.

    The problem with proper assessment of reality does not lie with whichever lying candidate one prefers, but with the conditions in the country. Inadequate comprehension of current socio-cultural-economic forces leads to unsound conclusions about candidate selection.

    Romney might have been adequate in the 1990s. This isn’t then. Today is much worse than the stereotypical Romney supporter is willing to accept.

    The hip v. square metaphor might still be valuable. It shows how the Romney faction is stuck in the frame of the past. It isn’t just that Pat Boone is “too square” to be cool. It’s that Pat Boone is being nice and sensible while Che and Fidel are marching on the Capitol. Pat Boone is irrelevant to the struggles the enemy is delivering upon us.

    The sort of character that the Constitution needs as a defender has not been seen in the soft lifetimes of the boomers and former flower children that comprise Mitt’s GOP.

    The single ray of hope that Rmoney might have the necessary ruthlessness to gut the Progressive bastards—his negative campaigning—is the accomplishment decried loudest by Republicans and conservatives alike.

    Romney is the perfectly flawed candidate for TV land. The revolution, however, will not be televised.

  30. neo-neocon Says:

    foxmarks: among other things, you appear to have lost your sense of humor.

    The old clip was meant to be humorous, not serious, rather than “being stuck in the frame of the past.” Sheesh.

    As for the rest of it—we’ve been through this too many times before to go through it again. Suffice to say I think you’re caught in your own “bubble of delusion.”

  31. donb Says:

    More recently we have heard that it’s hip to be square.

    p.s. Loved the clip of the late great Bob Denver (as M.G.Krebs).

  32. donb Says:

    Oops — I see vanderleun already called that tune. (Still loved the Bob Denver clip.)

  33. foxmarks Says:

    neo: The rrpjr exchange wiped away the fun. As to our repetitive disagreements about Romney, I do it for the lurkers. :-)

  34. Maggie's Farm Says:

    Monday morning links…

    If we aren’t supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat? The medical benefits of coffee Attractive women should not include a photo with a job application Neutrino ‘faster than light’ scientist resigns Britain Has Finally Rejected The Bogus…

  35. Chicago Boyz » Blog Archive » Feeelings Says:

    [...] the coolness/squareness factor in politics. [...]

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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