Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker has a theory: Former Gov. Mitt Romney doesn't have a problem connecting with people; rather, people have trouble connecting with him.
Why? Because he's too perfect:
[H]andsome, rich and successful, he is happily married to a beautiful wife, father to five strapping sons and grandfather to many. At the end of a long day of campaigning, his hair hasn't moved. His shirt is still unwrinkled and neatly tucked into pressed jeans. He goes to bed the same way he woke up—sober, uncaffeinated, seamless and smiling in spite of the invectives hurled in his direction.
What's wrong with this guy? Nada. Which is precisely the problem. ...
For most everyday Americans, life is less tidy. Half have been or will be divorced. Someone in the family is an alcoholic or a drug user. Most can barely pay their bills, and there's not much to look forward to. When most Americans of Romney's vintage look in the mirror, they see an overweight person they don't recognize.
Great Odin's raven, I thought I'd heard it all!
I'm not omniscient enough to plumb the psyches of millions of "everyday Americans" and imagine what they see in the mirror. I'll take my cues from the diverse handful of men who've seen up Romney up close. Sen. John McCain, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Sen. Fred Thompson campaigned against him in 2008. To varying degrees, each of these men quickly learned to despise Romney.
It's clear that former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Gov. Rick Perry (and probably Herman Cain) also despise Romney. In the latter pair's case, one could argue it's sour grapes. But not in '08, when Romney flopped badly.
My question to Parker and Jennifer Rubin and David Frum and all the others who are elbowing for room inside the Romney Tank is this: Why do these men fundamentally dislike Mitt Romney? Isn't it because, on the matter of intellectual honesty, they find Romney all too human? According to John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's Game Change, an insider's chronicle of the '08 campaign, McCain said at one point that he preferred former Rep. Tom Tancredo—"because at least he believes the things he says."
Sure, McCain, Giuliani and Huckabee (as well as former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rep. Michele Bachmann) have come out in favor of Romney in this campaign, but they're doing so out of partisan unity or professional positioning.
Lack of charisma or relatability is not an insurmountable obstacle in American politics. Even former Vice President Al Gore managed to win the popular vote, after all. Romney's principal problem isn't a lack of personal connection with people. It's that he irritates people. He's a transparent phony who, unlike President Bill Clinton, isn't even particularly good at being phony.
I'd have far more respect for Mitt Romney if he had the guts to say what he really thinks, which is this.
According to Frum, this is akin to asking Romney to be a political martyr.
Romney had two options besides committing harakiri.
He could've stayed in the private sector (where I hear that created thousands of jobs!), or if his thirst for power and influence could not be denied, he could've run as a moderate Democrat.
But Romney chose door. No. 3—to run as a belief-beggaring conservative Republican.
Sorry, Kathleen; I'm pretty happy when I look in the mirror and at my beautiful wife and children. And I still think Mitt Romney is a rancid impostor.