Thursday, February 7, 2008
Mitt Romney (Dennis)
Mitt Romney, shape-shifting candidate, dropped out of the 2008 presidential race at age 60.
Somewhere along the line, Mitt Romney learned to set his pride aside and serve the desires of others. Unlike some of his colleagues, who flirted with such vain notions as ideology and principles, Mitt believed in the simple philosophy of listening to what people wanted and giving it to them. At his company, Bain Capital, he listened to corporations in trouble and provided them with solutions. At the Olympics, he searched out what was wrong with the Games and fixed it. In Massachusetts, he listened to what the people wanted, soothingly told them that he would deliver, and kept as many promises as he could.
For his services, Mitt only asked for a few small rewards, never more than what the people he served could give. From the corporations, he only asked for their money. From the Olympics, he asked for credibility. From the public, he asked for their votes. A simple exchange that benefited both sides; a perfect reflection of the free market in which he surely still believes.
In the Presidential race he brought his flair for filling a gap, for being the missing piece of the puzzle. He saw that conservatives did not have a competent, attractive candidate among the group of Republicans already running. So, he graciously bent his philosophy to theirs and set to work. He drove down the dusty roads of Iowa, and braved the New Hampshire snows. He raised a fair bit of money, and spent a lot of his own. He endured insults from people far less accomplished than he, and he always kept his temper and his smile.
Through the course of the campaign he represented his position well. He made the correct arguments, took the right positions, and had the soundest strategy. He was well prepared intellectually, organizationally, and emotionally. And, perhaps most importantly, his family supported him through it all. His wife was the picture of grace and good sense, while his sons showed themselves to be so kind and well-adjusted that a cynical media could only sneeringly criticize them for being "too perfect."
In the end, however, it would not be enough. His lead in Iowa evaporated at the hands of a fire and brimstone preacher, whose most notable accomplishment had been to lose a great deal of weight, while his advantage in New Hampshire was whittled away by a man who showed no interest at all in listening to what voters wanted. When his race was clearly over, critics with perfect hindsight claimed that he shifted positions too much and that he was too clever by half. The unfriendly media would cruelly call his exit from the race "the last flip flop."
But even during his campaign's last speech, his exit from the race, Mitt kept his smile. It could be that he kept in mind the words of Emerson, who said that a foolish consistency was the hobgoblin of little minds. But, more probably, he smiled because of the simple truth that he expressed during that speech: the campaign had always been about serving America, and he believed he was serving America best by gracefully walking into the sunset so that the party could heal its divisions.
At those words, those who know Mitt best probably smiled as well, albeit a tad bitterly. For they knew that his kind heart was never happier as when he was the humble servant of those who needed him.