A while back E and I got to see Mitt Romney in action as he visited campus. The event started out well from a comedic point of view, with both a greeter at the door and several of his campaign staff showcasing preposterous Amish-style haircuts. After having seen so many reports of his "presidential handsomeness”, I found him to have a smooth speaking voice and general good looks, but he really lacked a presence. He stood in the front of the room...well, like a guy standing by himself in front of a room. The fact that he moves like C3PO doesn't help either. Some more highlights and lowlights:
- A scan of his website reveals my favorite political website component yet - the MittMarket. "Do you have items lying around that you don't use? From bicycles that the kids have outgrown to old electronics or baseball cards, your stuff may be someone else's treasure. Now, you can sell these items with little hassle and the added benefit of supporting Governor Mitt Romney." Christmas is over, but if you feel like buying me a gift, please do not do so from the MittMarket.
- He had a couple of value statements ("pick the right team" was the lamest) but one that I can't help but agree with, and which was calculated to excite the geeky audience he was speaking to - "I love to bathe in the data". I can appreciate someone who wants to make decisions based on lots of data. Unfortunately I wouldn't be able to depend on his ability to process the stuff, based on what he presented to us next.
- After mouthing a bunch of platitudes geared towards his base, “use the vibrant economy, privatize everything, lower taxes, make people realize that everyone should get married before having kids, reduce dependence on foreign oil, invest in technology , science is good” he ended with, “open up markets” and decided that a PowerPoint deck was necessary for that last point. The deck, aside from having been created in what looked like a 10-year old version of PowerPoint and being full of typos, was basically about how protectionism hurts and other countries have been making trade agreements that don’t include us “because we’re tied to politics” and included a proposal for a “Reagan zone of economic freedom” (I wonder how long they worked to weave the name Reagan into his plan?). There were multiple slides that he looked at and promptly skipped through, and what was most apparent was that he didn’t seem to have a particularly good grasp of what the data he was showing actually meant. So bathing in the data apparently just involved hot water and bubbles rather than real contemplation.
- He often repeated his position that states and local government should have complete control over everything and therefore he wasn’t planning to put forward a proposal for actually fixing anything (heaven forbid the Federal government should actually accomplish anything itself!) On healthcare, despite his record of getting statewide healthcare in MA, he though each state should “have the opportunity” to do the same but have no federal mandate. On Education, states should give scholarships for strong students to go to college (you can imagine this went over well with the gushing Jeb Bush supporter and her whiny, “why can’t you spend more money on my smart kids” attitude) but receive no federal funding because, “states have money”.
- I found it interesting that the only time he mentioned our wildly unpopular president was to agree with him. Bush’s current plan for Iraq and the surge is great (“thank god we didn’t have Obama as president”). The only thing the Federal government should do in education is continue Bush’s great policy of No Child Left Behind. Etc.
- He did, however, close his inspirational speech with a perfect summing-up of his positions. “I want to make America strong, and I’d appreciate your help and all your money”.
Wasn't that handy?