A lot of criticism has come the way of Romney's handlers, but they seem to be doing just the right thing, that is, letting Romney be Romney. The rough edges are an advantage, not a liability. They convey the sense that Romney reaches out to his listeners, and is speaking with them, not at them. He comes across as a man who is not full of himself, but full of his audience.
Many of my conservative friends viewed Romney as a lesser evil and bemoaned the inability of the Republican Party to find a Gringrich/Santorum/Bachmann sort of standard bearer. But Romney well may be what the country needs right now. We are a country (as the former Massachusetts governor noted this morning) whose students rank in the bottom quartile of math and science achievement internationally; half of our babies born to women between 20 and 30 have unmarried parents; we have a hangover from the collapse of the Internet bubble and the housing market and have become more risk-averse. We could use a president who will help us to believe in ourselves, because he believes in us. And Romney suits the bill, better than any of us predicted.
Obama has taught the public that the government won't fix the economy. The alternative is for the people to fix the economy. This election comes down to whether people will vote to lock in dependency -- with transfer payments running to a fifth of all personal income, dependency has a bigger constituency than ever it did in the past -- or for a chance to work their way out of the hole. Confidence is contagious, and Romney's message, in style as much as substance, will tilt the balance towards the latter, better alternative.
(Also read "At Least Romney Won't Peak Too Soon" at the Tatler.)
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