The PJ Tatler

Newsweek Goes There

I thought these desperation tactics would have waited until later in the campaign.

Instead, Newsweek chose this week to unveil a new line of attack on Mitt Romney. The cover features a picture of Romney with the caption: “Romney: The Wimp Factor.”

Romney shrugged it off:

Mitt Romney says that if he worried about what reporters thought of him, he wouldn’t get much sleep.

He says he’s sleeping just fine.

The U.S. presidential candidate tells CBS’ ”Face the Nation” that he isn’t sweating the upcoming Newsweek magazine cover that leads with “Romney: The Wimp Factor.”

He says the media tried a similar criticism of President George H.W. Bush. Romney says Bush “was a pretty great president” who was not a wimp.

A 1987 Newsweek profile featured a profile of then-Vice President Bush with the title — “Fighting the ‘Wimp Factor.’”

Asked whether he had ever been called wimp, Romney says the Newsweek cover is a first.

Wimp? Is that anything like “faggot”? Pretty close. I am waiting for all the gay rights groups to come down on Newsweek’s partisan liberal editor Tina Brown and chastise her for slurring the LGBT community.

Oh, wait…nevermind.

Michael Tomasky, former editor of Guardian America and a host of far-left publications, was tasked by Ms. Brown with the juicy job of de-gonading Mitt Romney.

Tomasky gleefully recounts the Mitt-gaffes from London and then writes:

The episode highlights what’s really wrong with Romney. He’s kind of lame, and he’s really … annoying. He keeps saying these … things, these incredibly off-key things. Then he apologizes immediately—with all the sincerity of a hostage. Or maybe he doesn’t: sometimes he whines about the subsequent attacks on him. But the one thing he never does? Man up, double down, take his lumps.

In 1987, this magazine created a famous hubbub by labeling George H.W. Bush a “wimp” on its cover. “The Wimp Factor.” Huge stir. And not entirely fair—the guy had been an aviator in the war, the big war, the good war, and he was even shot down out over the Pacific, cockpit drenched in smoke and fumes, at an age (20) when in most states he couldn’t even legally drink a beer. In hindsight, Poppy looks like Dirty Harry Callahan compared with Romney, who spent his war (Vietnam) in—ready?—Paris. Where he learned … French. Up to his eyeballs in deferments. Where Reagan saddled up a horse with the masculine name of El Alamein, Mitt saddles up something called Rafalca—except that he doesn’t even really do that, his wife does (dressage). And speaking of Ann—did you notice that she was the one driving the Jet Ski on their recent vacation, while Mitt rode on the back, hanging on, as Paul Begala put it to me last week, “like a helpless papoose”?


I don’t know about you, but I’m convinced — totally. Mitt Romney is a wimp because of the name of a horse he doesn’t even ride. Yep, that does it for me.

Or maybe not. More gay bashing from Tomasky — and a change of heart. Romney is not a wimp. He is, Mr. Tomasky gravely informs us, a “weenie” — which, the last time I heard, is slang for the male reproductive organ. With all these suggestive homosexual references, it’s fair to ask: is Tomasky a closet case? And shouldn’t someone out him if he is?

Romney is the genuine article: a true wimp. Oh, there are some ways in which he’s not—a wimp lets himself get kicked around, and Romney doesn’t exactly do that. He sure didn’t during the primaries, when he strafed Rick Perry and carpet-bombed Rick Santorum (but note that they were both weaker than he).

In some respects, he’s more weenie than wimp—socially inept; at times awkwardy ingratiating, at other times mocking those “below” him, but almost always getting the situation a little wrong, and never in a sympathetic way. The evidence resonates across too many years to deny. What kind of teenager beats up on the misfit, sissy kid, pinning him down and violently cutting his hair with a pair of school scissors—the incident from Romney’s youth that The Washington Post famously reported (and Romney famously didn’t really deny) back in May? The behavior extends, through more sedate means, into adulthood. The Salt Lake Olympics remains his greatest triumph, for which he wins deserved praise. But to many of those in the know, Romney placed a heavy asterisk next to his name by attacking the men he replaced on the Olympic Committee, smearing them in his book, even after a court threw out all the corruption charges against them.

And what kind of presidential candidate whines about a few attacks and demands an apology when the going starts to get rough? And tries to sound tough by accusing the president who killed the world’s most-wanted villain of appeasement? That’s what they call overcompensation, and it’s a dead giveaway; it’s the “tell.” This guy is nervous—terrified—about looking weak. And ironically, being terrified of looking weak makes him look weaker still.

Sheesh. Talk about transference. Metrosexuals like Tomasky go out of their way to be wimps, believing that 1) chicks dig it and 2) men they’d like to have sex with dig it. There has never been a New Left liberal who wanted to be anything more than a wimp. Old-fashioned liberals like Humphrey, Bobby Kennedy, Gene McCarthy — these were very tough men mentally and physically. If they listened to the kind of drivel Tomasky is putting out about Romney, any one of them would pick him up, twist him into a pretzel shape, and throw him in the dumpster.

Well, not really of course. But isn’t the kind of masculinity that Tomasky is describing out of bounds for liberal men? Radical feminists, maybe. So why is it we have someone who defines masculinity so effeminately calling Mitt Romney names and virtually questioning his sexuality?

Obviously, Mr. Tomasky has masculinity issues of his own and is taking off after Romney due to his own insecurity. Obviously, right? Well, it’s about as obvious as Mitt’s wimpiness, which puts Tomasky and me in the same boat: writing about something neither of us knows much about.

If you were to poll on “The Wimp Factor,” it wouldn’t even register. Romney may, indeed, be upper class but he’s all man and the overwhelming majority of Americans would agree.

It will be interesting to see the reaction to this savage hit piece so early in the campaign. We’ve got a hundred days to go and this will be forgotten by the conventions.

More from Ed Driscoll: “Newsweek Pretty Much Just Phoning It In Now.”