In last night's second Presidential debate, Mitt Romney once again tried to hide the "severely conservative" views he espoused just a few months ago.
But there's one thing Romney can't hide. He is a bully. Not a physically menacing one, but a whining, controlling, my way or the highway kind of bully. The kind of childhood bully who would declare petulantly that if he didn't get to play first base, he would take the balls and bats home with him because "they're mine."
Jim Lehrer let Romney run free from the rules in the first debate, but Candy Crowley would have none of it. Crowley admonished Romney when he insisted on talking after she told him his time was up, and Romney slinked back to his stool like a fifth grader in the principal's office. Romney's type of bully can be a nice, and even a kind, person. But his insistence on ignoring the rules, changing his positions constantly, and repeating misinformation even after the fact checkers expose him, are the character traits of a bully who will do whatever it takes to seal the deal.
Romney's ability to forcefully, insistently and shamelessly say anything he thinks people want to hear, regardless of its veracity, has somehow been misconstrued by some pundits as strong and effective leadership. When, in reality, he comes off as a frenetic, inauthentic panderer who replaces actual policy specifics by endlessly repeating phrases like, "I know what it takes to fix this economy." He may know, but he's not willing to share the secret with us.
In the second debate, Obama dominated on every issue, in both substance and style, and was unfazed and unflappable when Romney tried to bully him. Romney came off as the laughable kind of bully who can do no real harm. Unless he gets elected President.