Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Is Romney Electable? Dumb Question.

There is an interesting debunking and "rebunking" back and forth courtesy of James Taranto at the WSJ's Best of the Web over whether Mitt Romney is electable.

I find this all very funny. Putting aside Romney's idealogical view, his putative lack of or fealty to conservative principals of governance, is a simple matter of background - the resume, if you will. If you are a student of American history, you understand that there is a more-or-less "typical" person that gets elected President of these United States. The electorate occasionally veers away from this "typical" character, but usually returns to type. To generalize, the "typical" American President has one or more of the following attributes:
1) executive experience in government, more often than not as a governor of a state;
2) somewhat significant experience in the private sector economy;
3) some sort of "alternate patriotic service" outside of elected public office, i.e. military experience.

I have argued that Romney is the most typically presidential candidate to run for the Oval Office since George H. W. Bush, maybe Bill Clinton. In other words, we haven't seen a man this "typical" of our past Presidents come along in quite some time. Don't believe me? Let's go down the list. First off, Americans don't typically elect Senators, so you can wipe out John McCain, Barack Obama, Bob Dole, and even Al Gore on this score. Second, in terms of private sector experience you can wipe out John McCain, Barack Obama, Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, and even George W. Bush as his private sector experience is considered to be limited or suspect. In the third dimension you can elevate Dole and McCain for their military service, maybe Al Gore for his VP service although that is an elected office, but you have to disqualify Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and again arguably George W. Bush for only limited military service. The only men since Reagan who qualify as somewhat typical are George H.W. Bush by virtue of his military, CIA and VP experience and maybe Bill Clinton, but only barely as the governor of a small state with no other positives along the other dimensions. Note Barack Obama meets none of the traditional criteria - his incumbency is the only dimension on which he has to his credit, and it is hardly an auspicious one.

In contrast Mitt Romney has extensive private sector experience, executive leadership experience within government, and an "alternative patriotic" experience as the rescuer of the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. To the extent that Americans return to "typicity" in choosing a President, you could hardly find a better candidate than Mitt Romney. That may not be what they want, but that is not what I am arguing here. What I am saying is if, this time around, "typical" equals "electable" then electable Romney certainly is.


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