Why do people hate Romney?

During the 2007-08 Republican primary contest, I commented frequently about the widespread Republican dislike of Romney, which much of the time seemed to be based on trivialities: he was “too perfect”; he was “plastic”; we “don’t know who he is,” etc. For vague and evanescent reasons like this, Republican opinion makers and voters rejected a candidate who was infinitely superior to the broken-down basket case McCain whom they did nominate.

The Romney dislike of 2008 has evolved into the Romney detestation of 2012. Take a look at this thread at Lucianne.com. The animus expressed against Romney by one commenter after another is virulent, poisonous. I get that the animus exists. I don’t get why it exists. It seems irrational.

- end of initial entry -

January 23

James P. writes:

The simplest answer is the correct one—people hate Romney because he is another sham conservative like McCain being shoved down everyone’s throat in order to perpetuate the same broken policies that got us in the disastrous mess we’re in now. George Will flailed for an answer to this question, and concludes the reason people hate Romney is “his Romneyness” (which is no answer at all).

George Will: “Mitt Romney’s going in trump card was electability. If you go back now to his 1994 senate primary, he’s been in 25 races. His record is six wins and 19 losses. Newt Gingrich won it, it seems at least 43 or 46 counties. He carried women and Evangelical conservative South Carolina. He carried evidently all seven Congressional districts.”

“So here’s what we now know, we all thought the big problem for Romney might be his Mormonism and it might be the Massachusetts healthcare plan. That’s not it. Mitt Romney’s problem is somehow his “Romneyness.” That is the fact that people just are not connecting with him. Not just that he’s the first candidate we’ve ever had from the financial sector, which turns out to be a problem because finances, a, mysterious, and, b, disliked. But there’s something about him that is not connecting.”

Stan S. writes:

Why do people hate Romney?

Let me venture a guess. They hate him because of his wealth, education, refinement, good looks, sharp mind, pure character, and beautiful family. (Have I missed anything?) It is envy of the commmonest sort.

A reader in England writes:

Many people from all political affiliations dislike Romney because (in various ways) he represents the straight “establishment.”

Since the ’60s and perhaps before there is a rebellion against establishment and authority figures of all sorts. So even conservatives are part of this paradigm of supporting the “rebel” and detesting the “establishment” figures.

Romney represents white anglo tie and suit, hair in place, straightness like the parents in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

Gingrich represents the “What are you rebelling against?” “What have you got?” (Marlon Brando) rebel figure. Ron Paul has also represented the “rebel” and had much support.

Note that Reagan and Clinton and Obama also represented wild rebellious character outsider figures.

George W. Bush was not that but Gore was incredibly wooden and Kerry was as establishment as Bush.. Even you a traditionalist conservative are a fan of the likes of Bob Dylan.

I will add too that in addition to being as straight as they come, Romney is BORING.

People in 2012 will put up with some things but not a candidate who will BORE them.

LA replies:

I think there is something to what you are saying.

However, your emphasis on Romney’s supposedly boring quality is overstated. He is very smart, and watching him use his smarts—usually in an attempt to reconcile his past positions with his present ones—may not be edifying, but it is not boring.

Also, this is a minor point, and I know it won’t do any good, but I must protest again the universal description and put-down of Gore as “wooden.” In the 2000 campaign Gore was a shark, he was Michael Corleone on steroids. Anyone who describes him in that campaign as wooden was not looking with his own eyes but was repeating a cliché.


How could anyone describe the overcharged Gore who snuck up behind Bush in the first 2000 debate as wooden, let alone the post-2000 anti-American Gore, the Gore who in the tones and facial expressions of a madman declared that the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison revealed the essence of the American involvement in Iraq? Half out of his mind, yes. Wooden, no.

Mitchell B. writes:

People hate Romney because he is a classic RINO, and people are finally sick to death of being utterly betrayed by RINOs. Romney is a typical member of the ruling elite and that elite has, as its official policy, a deeply destructive, leftist, politically-correct pathology behind which everything that’s done is based on lies, false assumptions and hatred of white people. It’s really that simple. If you are a decent, productive, white person then you need to understand that the government is your enemy and Romney is a member in good standing of our governing elite. If Romney is elected, nothing will change. Obamacare will remain in place, as will affirmative action, punitive rates of taxation, government destruction of the economy, de facto amnesty for third-world savages and a continued high rate of legal immigration of third-world savages. Romney will surround himself with neoCon and leftist advisors and the national rot will continue. Romney is a smooth liar.

The fact that the Romney haters think Gingrich is an alternative is the saddest development yet. Gingrich is happy to spout right-wing decency and outrage, but the second he’s in power, his deeply evil friends Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, La Raza, SPLC, NAACP, CAIR, etc. will raise their inevitable objections and Newt will grovel and apologize, and once again we will be betrayed. We’ve been buying this evil bill of goods for decades now and it’s time to stop. We need to declare that the government is our enemy and we will not participate in this election. If the Tea Party, in an organized way, were to do this, the cowardly, treasonous GOP would finally be more afraid of its loyal white base than they are of hostile third-worlders. The time for business as usual has long passed. Our government IS a leftist tyranny that is the deadly enemy of its own country.

Our current one party, two faction system gives us only the illusion of an alternative to leftist corporatist fascism.

January 23, 5 p.m.

Kathlene M. writes:

What are conservatives supposed to do? We are in a quandary. If we do not vote, Obama wins by default. So we are forced to choose one of four unappetizing non- to quasi-conservative choices. I am more bothered by Romney’s pro-homosexualist track record than I am by Newt Gingrich’s instability. However Rick Santorum fits more of my beliefs than either of the above, yet he has his faults too. What makes this process worse is to be then insulted by other conservatives (e.g., being called “children” by Coulter or “crazies’ by the Slate.com liberals and some conservatives) for being forced to make such an unappealing choice.

Why is Romney “hated?” After watching him in various debates, all I can say is I’m getting quite tired of the defense he uses to defend his liberal track record in Massachusetts (paraphrased): “I had a Democratic legislature to work with, so I couldn’t get much of anything conservative through.” Playing the victim of the liberals for his not-so-conservative-record isn’t inspiring any conservatives to vote for him. He’s not a fighter, and he talks out of both sides of his mouth. Think David Cameron or any of the British so-called “conservatives.” He’s one of them.

I’ve attached a Romney cartoon that sums it up.


James R. writes:

Romney’s not my candidate, but I don’t hate him. However, I know some who do, including my mother.

I don’t think people hate Romney for his good character or his business success—certainly that’s not why my mother does. I think people have come to hate him for two broad reasons, one involving him, the other involving the broad Republican establishment.

These reasons are connected, and they’re related to a keen insight by one of your correspondents some time back. He said something to the effect that Romney doesn’t like politics, he sees it as a distasteful necessity on the way to the practice of policy—which to him is like a businessman managing a firm, where the CEO gets all the experts in the room to discuss options before selecting one. The people who hate him see him as taking his political positions not out of conviction and sincerity but as a marketing strategy to “sell” his “brand” after which he will govern technocratically, listening to the “experts” in the bureaucratic establishment and taking their policy advice. His opponents see this as fundamentally contemptuous of the electorate.

If they are right—and there are signs they are, from the mouth of Romney himself, who in his efforts to “reassure” us of why he chose this or that policy as Governor describes exactly this method—then he is a man of low character, not high character. [LA replies: That’s overstated. Being a technocratic manager does not translate into being of low character.]

The base is sick and tired—no, infuriated—at the establishment telling us who our front runner and “inevitable” nominees are. They rightly see this as connected to the same sort of attitude towards their voters that they perceive Romney as exuding—one of contempt, even distaste for having to appeal to such people as these, people they feel embarrassed about when among their more “enlightened” friends in the wider establishment. They see Romney as this cycle’s finely-crafted” candidate, designed to say the right things but without feeling or conviction, unwilling to stand up for them when push comes to shove because of not believing what they’re saying, and ready to betray their voters to the maximum extent possible (while still maintaining re-electability, if they are even elected). [LA replies: And Gingrich won’t betray you?]

As for me I find it hard to hate Romney, because to some extent “you just described a politician and politics”—however this is an extreme version. People sense, rightly or wrongly, that even if Romney is elected, if any conservative policies are enacted it won’t be at his initiative. It will only be because of the initiative of others. I think this is true even of Obamacare—if Romney could be elected, govern, and re-elected while leaving it alone, he would leave it alone as representing the current consensus of the political class. Attempting to repeal it will mean working against the people he thinks he needs in order to govern effectively (the “extended civil service”). But this is not what the Republican electorate wants out of a political leader. For me, even lacking the hate, there is no real reason to support Romney except “he’s not Obama.” But he won’t even start us along the path of the fundamental transformation of the U.S. Government and its policies. Which is what we need, and fast.

To sum it all up, for many people a vote for Romney means a vote for futility and the re-election of the same people who hold their voters in contempt. No wonder they resent being presented with this “choice.”

LA replies:

Since, as I have said repeatedly, Obamacare is the transcendent issue in this election, and since Romney is reasonably unlikely to exert himself to get it repealed, that is a reasonable basis for supporting someone else, such as Gingrich. But that raises the question: what position has Gingrich taken on Obamacare, other than the pro-forma statement that he will repeal it?

Paul M. writes:

I, too, am puzzled by how Romney can bring out such visceral hatred in some people. But I guess that if love is blind, then so is hate. It’s understandable that some people can just rub you the wrong way, and emotions are never logical.

But what absolutely confounds me is that so many voters can believe that Gingrich is “more conservative” than Romney. Such a conclusion should be based on cold reason, not emotion, and I see absolutely no rational basis for it.

To my mind, Gingrich combines all the same flip-flopping, leftist, statist, corrupt, post-American ideological failings of Romney, with a slew of his own new and more repulsive ones.

Romney vs. Obama would at least be a clear choice between a pro-opportunity, white businessman and a pro-redistribution, nonwhite academician. Gingrich vs. Obama would be a muddled choice between two egomaniacal academician/career politicians who have no use for the traditional white middle class, think government is the solution to all our problems and have proven to possess zero leadership ability.

Romney might appeal to moderate Democrats suffering from “buyers remorse” over voting for Obama, but no Democrat would ever vote for Gingrich, the DNC’s favorite fund-raising bogeyman of the 1980s.

I can understand the reasoning of conservatives who preferred Bachmann or Santorum over Romney. But I simply cannot understand the reasoning of any real conservatives who prefers Gingrich over Romney.

LA replies:

This is very well stated.

However, at some point I would like to get readers’ feedback on the question, who, in the event he is elected, is more likely to repeal Obamacare, Romney or Gingrich?

Paul K. writes:

You have received some excellent comments on the Romney vs. Gingrich quandary. Among them is James R.’s observation,

The people who hate him see him as taking his political positions not out of conviction and sincerity but as a marketing strategy to “sell” his “brand” after which he will govern technocratically, listening to the “experts” in the bureaucratic establishment and taking their policy advice.

I agree with this assessment. Unfortunately, since the withdrawal of Michele Bachmann, there is no strong, dependable conservative running for the Republican nomination. In the absence of conviction based on conservative principles, I find Romney’s dispassionate, technocratic approach preferable to Gingrich’s passion for hair-brained ideas. If George W. Bush had not had a passionate commitment to granting citizenship to tens of millions of Mexicans, he would have dropped the idea when it became apparent how strongly it was opposed by his base. However, he was willing to ride it into the ground. I don’t think that would be Romney’s approach.

Also, I am less ready than most to dismiss utterly the problems Romney would have had pushing a conservative agenda in liberal Massachusetts. This suggests that a Republican should never run for office in a Blue state lest he be permanently tainted. I always felt that at heart, outside of defense policy, John McCain was a liberal who pretended to be as conservative as was necessary to be elected in Arizona. With that in mind, Romney may have pretended to be as liberal as was necessary to be elected in Massachusetts.

Admittedly, I’m tossing out this idea more in hope than in belief.

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

Paul M. writes how he cannot believe that “voters … believe that Gingrich is ‘more conservative’ than Romney.”

Many VFR contributors might be overestimating the perceptivity and acuity of GOP voters, as though every man Jack of them was making nuanced policy assessments of the various candidates based on Aristotelian Voegelinian criteria. The burst of popularity enjoyed currently by Gingrich stems not from belief but from plain observation. What people have observed is a willingness on Gingrich’s part to use pugnacious language against Obama. Romney does not use pugnacious language; he exercises the suicidal false politeness that has lamed the GOP repeatedly in presidential elections. In Gingrich, whether accurately or not, people see a fighter and this sight is so rare that they respond to it quite immediately. (I was going to write “uncritically,” but I altered my diction, because I think that the people who voted for Gingrich were being critical in the precise sense; they were noticing a difference and basing their action on it.) Ann Coulter said something snarky yesterday to the effect that dumb South Carolina Republican primary voters prefer a candidate who zings Obama verbally to a candidate who could beat Obama, but that was itself a snarky comment at the expense of South Carolina Republican primary voters—and it makes one big assumption that is, so far, nothing but an assumption.

About Romney and the pervasive animus that surrounds him—is it possible that people can become fed up with blandness, see blandness as a cause of their political hopes being repeatedly dashed, and come therefore to despise blandness? The question is rhetorical. My answer is affirmative: It is possible. A large part of the GOP primary voting clientele is fed up with blandness. This frustration is no more uncritical than being impressed by pugnacity and rewarding it. Blandness is real (but it might be hard to see, which would explain why it takes a long time for it to become an object of political perception) and it really is a liability in a Time of Troubles.

These words are not an endorsement of Gingrich, but neither are they a defense of Romney; they are a defense of voter disgust at the unwillingness of GOP establishment types to wage the culture war, as it ought to be waged.

LA replies:

The culture war has not been much of an issue in this campaign. I remember Romney saying he accepted the homosexualization of the military and would not seek to undo it. What is Gingrich’s position? I doubt very much that he would challenge it.

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

The culture war has not been an explicit theme in the current election cycle, but it is a pervasive sub-theme. The previous GOP candidate whom Gingrich, just now anyway, vaguely (and maybe falsely) resembles is Pat Buchanan, who just about coined the term culture war.

P.S. On an entirely unrelated issue: a number of my archconservative friends and I have been discussing how new conservative polities might emerge should the USA go into actual regional disintegration. We have a plan for a rural-agricultural polity to be based on joining upstate New York, Quebec “south” (as the Canadians say) of the St. Lawrence, a portion of Vermont, and New Hampshire. There is a problem of national nomenclature. Which name would you prefer: Lawrentia or Austeralia?

LA replies:

Well, south of the St. Lawrence would be something like Austero-Lawrentia.

But I hope the national sport of this new nation is not hockey.

Thomas Bertonneau replies:

On Austero-Laurentia—

If you were to resettle in Plattsburgh and if you were to agree to become constitutional monarch of the new polity, you would be the establisher of the Plattsburgh Dynasty, Auster I (known affectionately as “King Larry”). The national seat would be in Gouverneur, New York, but the parliament would meet in Old City Hall, my favorite pub in Oswego.

Forget hockey. I nominate Canine Frisbee as the national sport; it’s a good deal more fun to watch than hockey.

Kathlene M. writes:

Gingrich responded to a recent Dec. 2011 survey on homosexual issues for Elaine Donnelly who heads the Center for Military Readiness. Romney did not respond to the survey.

Here’s a question for Romney supporters and the national GOP: What happens to Romney as the “strong, economic candidate” against Obama if the economy suddenly improves right before the election? The economy is the only theme that Romney seems to be running on. He claims that he’s the only one with the experience to turn it around. But if the economy shows signs of life right before the election, what else is Romney going to run on against Obama?

Here’s the text of the article:

Gingrich tough on women, gays in military
By Rowan Scarborough
The Washington Times
Sunday, December 11, 2011

Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich is siding with social conservatives on how the U.S. armed forces should treat gays and women, according to a survey released Monday.

Mr. Gingrich, who is leading in the polls for the GOP presidential nomination, told the Military Culture Coalition he would have voted against allowing open homosexuals in the military and, as president, would favor an extensive review for repeal of the gay ban known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The former House speaker also does not favor women in direct ground combat units. And he supports the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union of one man and one woman.

The Pentagon is citing that law to deny benefits to the partners of gay service members.

Mitt Romney, Mr. Gingrich’s closest competitor in the polls, did not respond to the group’s survey, according to Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness.

The center is one of 15 social conservative organizations that make up the Military Culture Coalition. Others include Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, the American Conservative Union and the Center for Security Policy, run by Frank Gaffney.

Mrs. Donnelly said Mr. Gingrich’s campaign responded to the survey Friday. He had not answered when the survey was first released Tuesday.

“The responses of Speaker Gingrich are a welcome addition to this ongoing educational project,” she said. “The issues on this survey will be of interest to many undecided voters, especially in Iowa.”

Zeke Stokes, spokesman for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which led the repeal drive, criticized the Gingrich response: “Mr. Gingrich is out of step with the vast majority of Americans, as well as our nation’s senior military leaders, who have said that repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is proceeding smoothly and without controversy.”

The survey has the potential to help Mr. Gingrich’s standing on the political right, although neither the gay ban repeal nor women in combat has been a leading issue in the race.

Mr. Gingrich was a member of the House, but not yet the speaker, in 1993 when President Clinton signed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” which allowed gays to serve as long as they kept their sexuality private.

In the MCC survey, Mr. Gingrich said he would have voted against repeal by the lame-duck Congress in 2010.

The Pentagon says repeal is working well in its third month and credits the extensive non-discrimination training that preceded the Sept. 20 effective date.

On other survey questions, Mr. Gingrich said he supported the federal marriage law, which Mr. Clinton also signed. Mr. Gingrich said he would not impose penalties on service members who spoke out against the gay ban repeal.

He would also oppose military gay pride events. He would not allow transgender people, such as cross-dressers or transsexuals to serve.

The gay rights movement is pushing the Obama administration to allow transgender people to serve as well as gays.

James R. replies to LA:

Re “overstated”:

Being a technocratic manager doesn’t translate as being of low character, but presenting oneself as something one is not, does. He could run as Michael Dukakis did—Dukakis honestly represented himself as a technocratic manager. Romney is pretending to be other than what he is, thinking the Republican base is easy to dupe. [LA replies: But he is presenting himself largely as a technocratic manager. I thought that was the reason people are so dissatisfied with him, given their desire for a fighter.]

Re “And Gingrich won’t betray you?”:

The question in this thread was about Romney. I find Gingrich completely unsuitable and unstable. Note when I was describing who I might vote for, Gingrich was not listed.

Re “that is a reasonable basis for supporting someone else such as [CANDIDATE NAME]”:

Thus my lack of enthusiasm bordering on apathy; like I said, I can’t get worked up to impassioned hatred of Romney, or impassioned support of anyone else. Certainly not Gingrich. I’m not sure when I hinted I was a Gingrich supporter.

“who, in the event he is elected, is more likely to repeal Obamacare, Romney or Gingrich?”

Of those two? My guess is Gingrich if only because he’s so random. I guess this gives him an edge over Romney on this one issue. However Gingrich temperamentally unsuited to be President, even setting aside his personal behavior.

James P. writes:

Paul M. writes:

I, too, am puzzled by how Romney can bring out such visceral hatred in some people. But I guess that if love is blind, then so is hate. It’s understandable that some people can just rub you the wrong way, and emotions are never logical.

If conservatives believe that the Establishment is trying to destroy them and destroy America, and Romney is the Establishment’s representative creature, then it is entirely logical for conservatives to hate Romney.

Paul continues:

But what absolutely confounds me is that so many voters can believe that Gingrich is “more conservative” than Romney. Such a conclusion should be based on cold reason, not emotion, and I see absolutely no rational basis for it.

But there is a rational basis for such a belief: Gingrich’s record in Congress. Gingrich spent 20 years in Congress and amassed a solid, consistent, stable record of conservatism during that time. His lifetime ACU rating of 90 is certainly a rational basis for thinking Gingrich is more conservative than Romney. Romney, after all, spent a short time as the governor of a liberal state and achieved NOTHING notably conservative—and many things liberal—during his tenure. Newt, for a lengthy and significant portion of his political career, was a solid conservative. Romney has NEVER been one. There is more reason to think Newt could return to the fold than there is to believe a man who has never been a conservative can become one.

Paul’s contention that Newt is “proven to possess zero leadership ability” is absurd. That he became Speaker of the House and achieved significant things while Speaker clearly refutes this claim.

Paul says he cannot understand the reasoning of any real conservative who prefers Gingrich over Romney. I cannot understand the reasoning of a conservative who dismisses the man with the greatest demonstrated record of actual conservative achievement while in national office and instead favors a man who governed a liberal state in a liberal fashion.

Newt is by no means my first choice, but I’ll take him over Romney any day of the week.

LA replies:

James is making some good points.

LA adds:

My own comments in this thread are an index of how complicated and confusing the situation is (or else they are simply an index of how confused I am). At one point I’m agreeing with an anti-Gingrich comment, and a little later I’m agreeing with a pro-Gingrich comment.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 23, 2012 06:52 AM | Send

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