Mitt Romney–More than just Dilbert’s Mormon Manager
In the brilliant comic strip “Dilbert,” the main worker bee is confronted with the dysfunctional goings on in his office. Fat and balding, he is destined to a cubicle as others leapfrog past him on the corporate ladder. One final straw comes when the boss tells Dilbert “This is Bob. He has no experience in this industry, but he is tall, and has perfect hair. He is your new manager.”
It is with more than a hint of irony that at a time in history where substance is desired more than ever, a promising candidate for President is bogged down for the shallowest of stylistic reasons.
Mitt Romney is tall, and yes he does have perfect hair. Not good hair. Perfect hair. As a heterosexual male, I have to confess that the guy is handsome. His square jaw reminds me of a cross between Dick Tracy and the overexaggerated cartoon character “American Dad.” It is unfortunate that the focus on Mitt Romney’s style obscures a substantive career based on success.
Mitt Romney saved the Olympics at Salt Lake City, Utah. A corrupt endeavor besotted by financial mismanagement needed a business leader…someone who could get through bureaucracy and simply get things done. Yet despite his right to chest-thump at a well done job, he instead chose to engage in a self-deprecating manner. At the Century Plaza Hotel for the annual California Republican Party Convention, Mitt Romney joked about his Olympic triumph. He stated “My sons told me that as long as they lived, they never thought they would see their dad on the front page of the sports section.” In another one liner that had the crowd in hysterical laughter he spoke about his confrontational approach to the Massachusetts legislature. “People in Massachusetts say that Arnold Schwarzenegger gets along better with democrats in the legislature than I do in Massachusetts. He should get along better with democrats. He’s sleeping with one.”
This leads to another irony concerning Mitt Romney. The biggest criticism of Romney by some conservatives is not his confrontational manner, but his comity. He gets along well with the democratic Massachusetts legislature. In a time of polarization, sleeping with the enemy is not to be tolerated. Having said that just because many democrats agreed with Ronald Reagan did not mean he agreed with them. Being genial is not the same as compromising, and occasionally reaching an agreement with a political opponent is not necessarily an abdication of beliefs. Outsiders and backbenchers can speak about ideological purity, but leaders have to get things done.
Mitt Romney helped pass a health care bill. Those who criticize the bill have not given it enough time to see if their criticisms have panned out. It is too soon. Additionally, this bill is not Hillarycare. It is not Ted Kennedy’s plan. Yes Ted Kennedy’s name is on it, but then again Ted Kennedy will block any popular bill that he does not get partial credit for. His name being on it does not automatically invalidate it.
As for other issues, Mitt Romney is being portrayed as the one thing that no square jawed man should ever be seen as…a flip flopper…especially not on abortion. He was pro-choice when running for Governor of Massachusetts, and now he is pro-life when running for president. This is in contrast to principled leaders such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Jesse Jackson, who were all pro-life before running for the democratic nomination for president. George HW Bush in 1980 ran as the pro-choice republican candidate, yet in 1988 he was ardently pro-life. Steve Forbes went rightward between 1996 and 2000. So why should Mitt Romney be given a pass? Because he Governed Massachusetts.
It is one thing to have an ideology. It is another to be an ideologue. Ideologues make bombastic speeches. Pragmatists win elections, and get to govern, aka get things done. Conservatives are not welcome in Massachusetts. Republicans yes, but not conservatives. Richard Nixon won 49 states in 1972. He lost Massachusetts. A democrat would have to kill someone before being defeated. In some cases, even that is not enough. Massachusetts will elect libertarian republicans such as William Weld and Mitt Romney. The state has allowed Michael Dukakis, Ted Kennedy, and John Kerry to lead them. Short of praying that global warming causes melting polar ice caps to flood the state until it breaks off, floats away, and joins Antarctica, Massachusetts republicans have to field candidates who will support cutting taxes and killing terrorists. Period.
Another criticism of Mitt Romney is that he is a Mormon. This should be of deep concern to anyone who is bigoted. For those of you who are concerned that I just declared that anyone who opposed Mitt Romney solely because he is a Mormon is bigoted, well stop being bigoted and then this concern will dissipate. JFK was a Catholic. Joseph Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew. Even those in America who are white Christians are subdivided between Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and other multi-syllabic derivatives of Christianity. As a Jewish person, I have no idea how they are different. That does not mean they are less than noble religions. It means I am as uneducated as every other kid who went to public schools (Maybe Mitt Romney can fix that. Even if he can’t, neither can anyone else. He’s not Superman).
The current struggle with Islam is not that Islamists want to practice Islam. It is that they want everyone else to submit to Islam. When I met Mitt Romney, and spoke to him, he did not seem to have any interest in converting me to Mormonism. He seemed more interested in speaking about tax cuts. Having religious faith does not mean one forces others to share this faith. Belief in God does not mean the person is God. Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. These are all old cliches, but the hostility towards many who express pride in their religion is even more tiresome. Whatever the Mormon equivalent of Sharia law, Mitt Romney seems more interested in the US Constitution as a governing body. As long as he supports Supreme Court Justices that agree with this philosophy, he is a conservative in the truest sense.
Lastly, on the subject of Sharia law, Mitt Romney does not want US Citizens to be subjected to it. His aggressive speeches concerning the War on Terror show a man who understands that the struggle for our livelihood as free citizens goes beyond anything we have faced in our lifetimes. Mitt Romney is Pro-America, Pro-Israel, and anti-enemies of free people. We know this because he emphatically says so in his speeches. He does not complain about how quickly to surrender. He understands that leadership is not about carping. It is about rolling up sleeves and getting to work.
I am not saying Mitt Romney can do anything. However, cutting taxes in Massachusetts is simply impressive. He is likable, genial, and successful. He is not an artificial candidate or a “pretty boy.” Think of him as being as handsome as John Edwards, only with realistic solutions to important problems.
The last thing to think about is something that is applied to all the candidates. Ronald Reagan raised taxes in 1982. Therefore, every candidate deserves one get out of jail free card, or a mulligan for those of you who dress badly and wear checkered trousers.
If the worst we can say about Mitt Romney is that his religion is not understood by most, then his detractors should throw in the towel. Mitt Romney is a good decent man who deserves to be considered a serious presidential contender. No he is not perfect. Nothing in life is perfect. Even his hair is not completely perfect. Well, yeah…it is.