Romney Isn't Funny. He Doesn't Know How to Be.
Mitt Romney has lost the election.
Nowhere in this column will there be a mention of any of the important issues facing this country today----this is after all, about the presidential election.
In other words, issues don't matter, in this case.
Romney lost because he doesn't have charm, wit, a sense of humor. You can't learn those things. This is the America of American Idol. People want to be entertained. Ever since Richard Nixon appeared on the TV show Laugh In, Americans have increasingly come to expect a candidate that aside from the issues---they can like.
This is Romney's Achilles' heel.
He's just not likeable, and he's not funny. He doesn't know how to be.
Romney compounded the problems when he picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. Ryan is a good spokesman for the conservatives and an intelligent man whether you agree with him or not. But he's white. The election is two white guys versus America's first black president.
Who do you think African Americans are going to vote for, and Latinos?
If Romney had picked a token black man or woman as his running mate, he would have appealed to the groups where he is obviously weakest. As much as I despise tokenism, and laud Romney for going with who he thought was best despite gender and color, it has to be seen in retrospect as a momentous blunder.
He should have done like John McCain and pick some crazy-as-hell ditsy Republican woman to run like Sarah Palin, who would generate excitement, pump some life into a colorless campaign.
But he didn't. It cost him the election.
Romney doesn't know charm. John F. Kennedy did. Let me give you an example. At a press conference a reporter asked Kennedy, "What has your administration done for women?"
John F. Kennedy
In 1961, the deteriorating political situation in Laos posed a serious concern in U.S. foreign policy when President John F. Kennedy took office. | Photo: The White House archives |
Kennedy thought a second, and with a dry, sardonic, straight-faced look said, "I'm sure we haven't done enough."
The reporters laughed. The audience laughed. This was funny. It was disarming. It diffused what could have been a tense moment. People were charmed.
Kennedy, handsome like a movie star, had the innate ability to figuratively charm the birds out of the trees. Have you ever heard Romney be funny like that----or likeable? Charm is charisma, what Marilyn Monroe had in front of a camera. The camera loved Marilyn Monroe.
Unlike like Kennedy's retort, one of today's Republican candidates instead would have said something stupid about women's bodies and create a furor, and in fairness, Joe Biden often sticks his foot in his mouth as well. Obama, except for his statement "you didn't build it" (start a business), is very stingy when it comes to stupid gaff comments.
You either have charm, or you don't.
Obama doesn't have the charm of JFK, but he is capable of telling a funny story. He often uses folksy homilies, for example, saying something in relation to down on the farm, "You can't milk the middle class cow if it hasn't got a tit."
I made that one up, but he has said things like that. People in the audience chuckle. I've heard them chuckle.
In the meantime, Romney is running a Bob Dole-style campaign, Bob Dole being a republican candidate for president in 1996-----a campaign unprecedented for its humorlessness, charmless-ness, lifelessness. It was so bad it was almost as if Dole himself wasn't aware he was running.
It was said his campaign needed heart massage, but a critic said that. Dole wouldn't have been imaginative enough to think it up.
Dole managed to make not one memorable or witty statement during the entire campaign. Bill Clinton, who had charm, a sense of humor, and who played the saxophone on television wearing cool looking sunglasses---won easily.
Romney can't change what he is, or as the old saying goes, a leopard can't change his spots. He is a corporate executive who is cold. His wife will tell you different. But she lives with him, sometimes. The most telling example is perhaps the reluctance and indifference even members of his own party have exhibited toward Romney.
Many of them don't particularly like him either.
Obama won the election, despite an eight percent unemployment rate. He will be reelected because of his greater charisma, wider smile, skin color, and because he appeals more to women.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) introduced his choice as running mate, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (born January 29, 1970) at a campaign event in Norfolk, Va. | Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, Republican, Campaign, 2012, Ship,