Thursday, January 17, 2008
Do You Know Mitt?
I've never voted for a Republican president before, but I've never known a presidential candidate before either. I'm crossing over to vote for Mitt.
OK. While I don't personally know him, I know him. We know many people who do know him personally: close family members, business partners, Olympics co-workers, church associates...these folks have studied him up close, and we've listened to their unvarnished opinions. Without exception they say he's brilliant. They all support him for president. He is, undeniably, in their opinion, the best man for the job. However, these people don't all like him. He has flaws.
For example, a criticism we've heard is that he's too ambitious. You think?? Valedictorian at BYU, top 5% at Harvard MBA school, Cum Laude at Harvard Law School, self-made millionaire worth $200-250 million dollars, governor of Massachusetts, candidate for president--a little more than ambitious! But, as they say, "It ain't braggin' if you've done it." Mitt has a few bragging rights.
Another assessment is that he lacks warmth, people skills. I've noticed that a lot of highly intelligent people are that way. Doctors and scientists are sometimes geeks at parties. They smile at the wrong times, and seem out of it in small talk situations. I got a D in geometry while perfecting my people skills. The genius's were getting A's, missing the dances, and earning full ride scholarships to impressive universities.
A political ad, negatively aimed at Mitt Romney, asks the question, "Who would you rather eat lunch with: the guy you work with, or the guy who laid you off?" Well, for sure I'd have a burger with the friend I work with. But if I'd invested millions of dollars in the company (which we Americans have) who would I rather have running the company? I'd choose the one who knows how to run a company!
One of our confidants said Mitt can't tell a joke. "He's plastic," "too perfect," "too handsome." (If you should vote against a guy just because he's too perfect, are you supposed to vote for a guy just because he's a loser?) I've heard opinions that he's robotic, and slick. The media doesn't trust him because he's an "aw shucks" kind of guy, with no four-letter words popping out on a regular basis. He seems to too good to be true. He just doesn't hold up for some journalists. I think it's a shame they feel this way.
I know lots of men and women who lead the kind of life that seems unbelievable to a cynical world. You probably do, too. Spouses who are faithful, parents who are responsible, students who don't cheat, teenagers who don't party; the Romney's aren't suspect to me because many of my friends and neighbors are like that, too. I understand people who just want to make a difference, who want to serve their fellowman. I know plenty. Mitt might have been a giant in the business world, but he's been a public servant in many ways at the same time.
I don't agree with his stand on everything. He's a little more hawkish on the war, than I'd like, for instance. I do like the fact that he's actually put a health care system into practice, and I'm in favor of his immigration policy. Issue wise, I like him, but I also trust him. On all the presidential stuff I'll never know anything about, I'd feel confident having him making those decisions, because I know the kind of person he is. That just feels better than to be wondering and hoping that my candidate will have worthy character traits in future surprise issues. Hardly ever will I be able to vote for a candidate based on my knowledge of his character. This time I can.
People wonder if he's electable. He's ahead! The primary elections are about getting delegates who will vote at the Republican National Convention. At this point, Mitt Romney is leading with a whopping 52 delegates. Mike Huckabee is second with just 22, John McCain has 15, Fred Thompson has 6, and Rudy Giuliani has 1. Mitt has won 2 states, McCain and Huck are at one each. It's early days, yet. There are still some January votes, and then all the February primaries to watch. I love it!
Voters should choose a president based on what they want him/her to do for the country. (It's important to remember exactly what a president can and can't do.) We all have different criteria and the candidates all have different abilities and agendas. That's how we decide who to vote for. Remember when we voted for a student body president because he was cute? Or voted against her because she was too smart? Hopefully we have moved beyond that!
If Mitt doesn't make it, I'll switch back to my Democratic roots. I'll decide on my candidate based on the issues and the debates. I might even pay attention to the evaluations of Tim Russert and Chris Matthews. I hope I'm not reduced to the candidates' appearances on Dave Letterman, and whether or not they're funny. I won't vote for or against anyone based on their gender, race, religion or hairstyle. But I would love to be able to vote, just once, for someone I know.