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September 14, 2012

The Republican Spring (and More on “the Smirk”)

Call it the Week of Long Knives, eating your own, or Republican Spring…whichever way you slice it, Mitt Romney has had a horrible week and GOP stalwarts have been liberated from party discipline. It’s reflected in various photos of the strained and annoyed faces of former party loyalists like Joe Scarborough or Laura Ingraham as they advise the candidate, but there’s nothing new or interesting about that. The better image comes courtesy of former GOP speech writer Peggy Noonan who, after calling Romney “weak” and noting he “didn’t do himself any favors” with his remarks on Libya, added a visual aside: “At one point …… I thought, he looks like Richard Nixon.” And though we can all agree there’s nothing to smirk about when discussing the deaths of American officials in the Middle East (I don’t think Romney believes otherwise), what Romney can’t prevent is his “tell” from shining through: He smiles when defensive, when he’s angry at events or people, when he is questioned in a way for which he lacks an answer or rationale. And that came through in his fix-it second statement on the events in Egypt and Libya. It’s a thin smile that masks an entitlement to be right, to be obeyed, to be the shining center of a marketing campaign gone horribly awry. photo credit 1. PBS NewsHour, 2. Wall Street Journal LIve video, 3. Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

  • Thomas

    It’s impossible not to recall W at moments like this. So much of Romney’s formal demeanor and interpersonal disposition echo W that one has to wonder at the similarities. The wincing at questions, the uncomfortable smirking, the impatience, the assuming others will suffer indulgences without complaint, the irritation when they don’t. I think it has less to do with political ideology or executive, corporate culture (though those would definitely count as being co-morbid issues) than with the more elemental influence they share: securely occupying a high social position from birth on. But now, Bush’s early years identity crisis, his alcoholism, his black-sheep status in the family, his earnestness—dumb and misguided as it was—all make him look like a much more interesting public figure than Romney. You sure don’t get the impression that Romney has ever for a second questioned himself.

  • http://twitter.com/aworks aworks

    While the second photo is definitely Nixonian, I’m struck by the last photo withthe contrast of a smirking Romney versus the downcast reactions from the journalists. This may be the “game over” moment.

    • marc sobel

      There we go again hoping for good things to come out of the media. I predict we will be back to false equivalency by next weekend. Although when the going gets tough, Romney seems push the fail envelope.

    • Cactus

      aworks, I noticed that, too. It looks as if Romney delivered
      his coup de grace, which apparently stunned the reporters, and just turned and
      walked off the stage, looking (and feeling) very smug. But when you look at the
      reporters, not one is making a move to get up. It’s as if they can’t believe
      what they just heard.

      He looks to be exactly what he is: a person of privilege
      whose servants, wives and children ease his path through life. He may be able
      to use words to hide that, but the way he says those words and the accompanying
      body language, screams that he’s used to getting his way — always. He feels
      entitled to be president, as he gave away when late in the primary season he
      said, ‘It’s my turn!’ I think he’s stunned that not everybody feels he should
      be.

  • quincyscott

    He just looks worn out, to me. People say stupid things and make bad decisions when they’re exhausted. Romney seems to be a guy who is capable of much better, however little I like his politics. Maybe that inappropriate smile is just an attempt to put on a good face and plow on. Maybe he just needs a good night’s sleep.

  • GeorgeMokray

    Rmoney is becoming a total embarrassment. Perhaps his strategy is to fail so spectacularly that he will win votes through pity. This guy is an empty suit with a stick up his a$$. He has no flexibility and no center. He’s coasted on his reputation all through his life. Nobody exists for him except himself and maybe his family. All the rest of us are “you people,” as his wife put it. This attitude is clearly portrayed in his demeanor (pun intended).

  • Bugboy

    On Noonan’s Nixon comment, the phrase Nixon uttered about not having him to kick around any more comes to mind. Nixon took himself too damned seriously as well, to his detriment.

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