I don’t want you to think I’m piling on your beloved husband. During the lengthy primary and election cycle I know Republicans as well as Democrats have taken Mitt to task for one thing or another. I’m sure it must make you grit your teeth. No wonder you asked the critics to get off Mr. Romney’s back and get to work for him. I had a friend who used to say, “The loudest cheerleaders are the ones least likely to get into the game.” Coaches and political campaigners are frequently criticized after the fact
So I am not going to second-guess his political ideas or his speeches as such. I’m not going to support either candidate, I’m going to talk about both candidates as storytellers. (By the way, you and Michelle both did a wonderful job at the conventions presenting a human, even a loving portrait of each spouse.)
When you whittle the various message ads and debates done to the core, Mitt seems to me to have crafted the basic storyline of: “My opponent is terrible at his job. Fire him. Hire Me.” Now, can you think of a successful national campaign that had this as a thesis? I cannot. Yes, Richard Nixon used the “red scare” against Adlai Stevenson and Kennedy invented a non-existent “missile gap” against Nixon but each had a positive main message.
Barack, in contrast has the underlying story as: “Things remain to be accomplished. Keep me on this difficult job.” Think about Franklin Delano Roosevelt during World War II or Abraham Lincoln’s second term as president. Times were tough. The leaders admitted making mistakes, but they called on people to help them stay the course. Pretty stirring stuff.
I think one problem with using an attack on your opponent as the primary focus of a campaign is that it says nothing positive about you. Another problem is the negative tone of an attack can easily veer into the sound of whining. Nobody likes a whiner. Also, if you don’t provide a self-portrait, the other side will provide one that you do not like.
Erick Herzik, Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, who is a Republican and a supporter of your husband said the typical voter’s reaction to hearing your spouse speak was, “Where’s the rest of the story? Mitt is absolutely correct in that the more details he reveals, the more questions he will get. On the other hand, without details Mitt ends up out of focus.
Some of Mitt’s supporters seem to employ the worst sort of invective against Mr. Obama. I don’t know if he’s behind them, but I do believe that he is at least covertly encouraging them. That may fire up part of Mitt’s base, but I truly believe that in the long run it will diminish Mitt’s reputation. They are not really supporters of Mitt at all. They are detractors of the president, of whom one commentator said, “They’d vote for a toaster oven before they’d vote for Obama.
Agree or disagree? Feel free to comment.