There’s an article by Lloyd Grove in The Daily Beast about how the press supposedly encourages Mitt Romney to act artificial:

Romney’s story [about his father closing a factory with humorous consequences], on its face, is a parable of the frequent absurdity of politics and campaigning, which often present reality as viewed through a funhouse mirror; by telling it, Romney not only revealed his little-known sardonic side (and an appreciation of the bizarre nature of the democratic process that speaks well of his sense of perspective), but he also treated Wisconsin voters like grownups who are themselves sophisticated about that process. [Emphasis Mine.]

Predictably, the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign’s media machine pounced on the anecdote as further evidence that Romney is an out-of-touch plutocrat with zero capacity to feel the pain of laid-off autoworkers, never mind that the great majority of these particular workers, who lost their jobs in Michigan 58 years ago, are feeling no pain themselves.

Journalists, Grove complains, attacked poor Romney for this remark, their reportage on the incident being more or less in line with the Democrats’ line on it. This, he argues, will in turn make Romney even more artificial.

In a way, both sides are right here. It is true that this was an instance of Romney being less artificial, but it’s also very telling that, when Romney is kicking back and telling a funny anecdote, it’s about factory closings and politics. The thing that makes Romney look out of touch here is not so much his lack of sympathy for those workers all those years ago, but rather that his mind, even when relaxed, focuses on issues of running big businesses and political strategy.

In other words, running big businesses and political strategy are all the guy knows. That’s not his fault, and it may even be to his credit in a sense; as those aren’t bad things for a President to know. But the point is that that’s his life, and he has very little visceral understanding of other things. Laughing during the story isn’t what makes him seem out of touch; it’s the fact that that’s the kind of story he thinks of. Romney seems out of touch because he, in fact, is.

I can only hope that this piece by Grove, which doesn’t seem to quite get that, is an April Fools’ joke.

It was suggested in the forum by a person named Santorum

That the people would vote for ‘im if on the Bible he would run.

Another sought to bring rich people’s cash, and having which,

This man called Gingrich had once thought he’d all but won.

And at this time the call for “revolution” went up all

Among supporters of Ron Paul who were so sure they had struck gold.

And all the time was omnipresent the suspicion that Mitt Romney

Only could keep folks from needing their misery and poverty consoled.

So, right now, it seems like Mitt Romney is probably going to be the Republican nominee. As I see it, the person who seems to have the best chance at challenging him is Ron Paul.

And, as has happened before, I find that only Claude Rains as Mr. Dryden in Lawrence of Arabia can assess the situation properly: “One of them’s half-mad – and the other, wholly unscrupulous.”

I switched back and forth last night between the Republican debate and the track meet that people tried to pass off as a football game. My impressions based on what I saw of the debate were:

  • Ron Paul is a lunatic, but some of his ideas are better than anything the rest of them offer.
  • Huntsman is trolling.
  • Rick Perry’s just zis guy, you know?
  • An analysis of Newt Gingrich may be found here.
  • Rick Santorum has by far the most appeal to the rank-and-file.
  • Mitt Romney doesn’t like hypothetical questions.

None of them seem particularly charismatic, although Paul, Perry and Santorum all seem reasonably amiable.

And lastly, not that it matters, but I got a kick out of Gingrich, Romney and Santorum all screwing up their chance to seem like “regular guys” by getting the date of the college football championship wrong. I don’t blame them, though, because I don’t particularly want a President who spends his leisure time on that. (Also, the game should be played on Saturday. Why on earth do they play it on a work night?)

I loved Paul’s answer about the economics books, though.

UPDATE: Forgot to add one other thing: at one point, Rick Perry said:

“We’re going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in [to Iraq] at literally the speed of light.” [My italics.]

This sort of thing irritates me. “Literally” means it is actually true, no exaggerations. Perry meant to say “figuratively” which means “not literally”. Now, some people will say that I am just being a “word Nazi” or something. (I prefer “authoritarian linguaphile”.) But look, it’s a perfectly fine figure of speech, but it is not literal!

It is true that Perry is far from the first person to do this. Using the word “literally” to mean exactly the opposite has gone on for quite some time. But it seems to me like a silly practice, since we already have a word that means the opposite of “literally”, to let it have two different and opposite meanings. It’s more of what I was talking about here. Am I wrong about this?