A wise man told me many years ago that modest people do not seek political office. And in 40 years of covering politicians as a reporter, writing and producing campaign media, working in the Texas Legislature, the Clinton Administration and the U.S. House, I have never found his observation to be very far off.
Thankfully, many -- okay, some -- people run for public office because they believe they have what it takes to make a difference. Others run simply because they think their name would sound better with a title in front of it. And then there are a few who look at themselves in the mirror every morning and say, "Oh yeah. You're the one."
I've watched and listened to Governor Mitt Romney since he arrived on the national scene, and I believe he definitely belongs in the last group. He seems to be propelled by ambition alone, utterly confident that he is smart enough, urbane enough, and, more than anything else, smooth enough to be in charge of anything. He hasn't never evidenced a desire to work his way up the political ladder. You know: pay your dues; learn how it works. Gov. Romney is apparently possessed of such gifts that he should always start at the top.
He's been roundly criticized for flip-flopping on major issues, and not just major policy issues that genuinely can lead people in different directions at different times. But, he's bounced back and forth on issues that define people; that manifest who they are and what they value. And he's done so with no more apparent angst than if he were changing neckties.
It is stunning to watch and listen as he completely reverses himself on one foreign policy issue after another; and not just issues of which nation will become a trading partner or deserve more U.S. aid, but issues of war and peace; life and death. His breadth and depth in international issues, as Dorothy Parker once wrote, run the gamut from A to B. In previous weeks and months, he parroted the bellicose worldview of neocons recycled from the George W. Bush Administration from whom he seeks counsel. Yet, in the last debate, he pirouetted away from the chest-thumping style of these people who should have the grace to just go away after lying the U.S. and Great Britain into war in Iraq, yet who apparently remain intent on turning Afghanistan, Libya and Egypt into the Nebraska countryside.
Mitt Romney does not pose a frightening specter as President of the United States because of what he believes. He's frightening because he doesn't seem to believe in anything, other than his destiny to be CEO of America.
He is very good. If you've watched him in debates or at a rally or the Republican Convention, you've seen a consummate actor give the performance of his life. He's articulate. He looks great. He sounds great. Every reaction; every gesture; every facial expression is practiced. But if you look more closely, you'll notice that you can see right through him. He is completely transparent. There's nothing inside but ambition.