You've got to hand it to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. What he lacks in consistency and charisma as the 2012 Republican presidential frontrunner, he makes up for with stunning political awkwardness.
Don't blame Mitt though -- the modern Republican presidential nominating process is rarely, if ever, exciting. Sure it has its ups and downs just like any other political contest but how captivating could it possibly be when you consider the simple fact that with the exception of 2008, every Republican ticket since 1976 has included a Bush or a Dole?
Heck, in more than thirty years, the Republicans have had only one standard bearer who won the nomination without having run and lost before. It might as well be Romney's campaign slogan: "Like Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and John McCain before me, I've lost and now it's my turn!"
We may preoccupy ourselves with the eccentric characters who will collectively be known as the also-rans come 2013, but in the end, they provide little more than a distraction from the inevitable. It's why a good freak show always trumps the lame rides at a traveling carnival.
Yes, there is former Pennsylvania Senator Rick "don't Google me" Santorum who talks about gay sex more than I do, and I'm a gay man. And there's Newt Gingrich who sought to impeach Bill Clinton for infidelity while carrying on an affair with a Congressional staffer (now his third wife) while serving as Speaker.
How about Herman Cain? You know Herman Cain, right? He made pizzas in a Godfather sequel or something. There's also Utah's former Governor Jon Huntsman who worked for President Obama as Ambassador to China, which should go over really well with the tea sipping, xenophobic GOP base.
We've also got former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty who is only slightly more inspiring than a poster of a kitten holding onto a branch with the words "hang in there" emblazoned across the top. Good advice for his campaign perhaps?
That leaves a trio of members of Congress seeking the presidency. First, there's Ron Paul of Texas whose solution to every problem from potholes to the economy is a sprinkling of Libertarian magic dust. Then there's Michigan's Thaddeus McCotter who probably just wanted to be able to tell his grandkids he once "ran" for president. And last but certainly not sane, there's Minnesota's Michele Bachmann who one-upped former half-term Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's kooky claim (Paul Revere warned the British that they better not take our guns) with her own bizarre claim that our founding fathers wanted to end slavery. Pay no attention to the slave owning founders behind the curtain Congresswoman.
Have I forgotten some of the candidates? Probably, but then again, you won't remember them in a few months either.
Romney is doing his best, however, to blend in with the pack, stumbling from gaffe to gaffe as he travels the back roads and highways of the early primary states.
Imagine if you will a little boy approaching the former Massachusetts Governor with a one-dollar bill folded into an origami figure. When Mitt happily accepted the kind gesture, he reached for his wallet to retrieve a dollar for the boy only to dig through a wad of 100-dollar bills for a single tucked away fiver. Somewhere John Edwards' expensive haircut is blushing.
Romney -- who, prior to serving a single term as Massachusetts Governor, made a living firing 1000s of workers at Bain Capital -- has shown a remarkable inability to connect on the campaign trail, especially with the unemployed. He may own a few enormous houses and be worth millions up
Of late, Romney has been debating himself. He's said repeatedly that the president has made the recession "worse" -- not true. Romney later said that he never claimed Obama made the recession "worse" and just days later made the statement in question yet again. Behold the rarely seen flip, flop, flip.
These are the same problems that plagued Romney's 2008 GOP primary campaign. You'll recall the time he was interacting with a group of African Americans and he awkwardly referenced a popular hip-hop jam from nearly a decade earlier asking those assembled "who let the dogs out?" Yes, who indeed.
Doesn't Mitt Romney seem like a serious candidate?
Well, it's his turn, so I guess he's got that going for him.
Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and Democratic political consultant at Bullfight Strategies in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, or sign up to receive his columns by email.
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