No Wimpy Patrician

Posted: Apr 19, 2012 8:13 PM
Matt Lewis points out that Mitt Romney's willingness to fight back is endearing him to conservatives.

In the same vein, I noted back on January 22 that "the problem is that the moderation of [Romney's] temperament reinforces what GOP true believers distrust most about him -- the moderation (or perceived moderation) of his policies."

It seems obvious in retrospect that Romney was simply trying hard to come across as likable, in order to remain at least the second choice of a critical portion of the GOP primary electorate.  Now that the only opponent left is Obama, the hard-edged Romney (who had little reluctance to go after any rival who seemed to threaten his hold on the nomination) will be back.

In fact, the concerns about Romney -- that he'll be a "wimp" -- are reminiscent of those about George H.W. Bush.  In my view, it's a socioeconomic thing -- both come off as patrician, and because of that fact, many Americans believe that their privileged backgrounds have made them too "soft," in some sense, to fight.

This assumption is often shared by their opponents, to their detriment.  It's a mistake.  Successful men in the "patrician" class, in my judgment, can be some of the toughest opponents of all, because they often have something to prove, and no excuse or justification in their own minds for failure (after all, they've been given "everything" for their entire lives).  Recall that the supposedly "wimpy" George H.W. Bush didn't hesitate to make mincemeat of Michael Dukakis.  

The problem with the first President Bush came only after he won, when he believed that it was necessary and wise to compromise with Democrats who had no interest in his (or the country's success).  It's a mistake that Romney is unlikely to repeat, especially given that if he wins, his presidency will come after the disaster that is President Obama, rather than having the luxury of succeeding the successfulRonald Reagan.