Ok, really? Nobody else is going to do this? (sigh) Fine, here we go. To ascend to the meta-observational level just for a moment, the fact that Everything2 has to this point had no substantive node on eternal candidate and presumptive 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney -- even mere days before his own nominating convention -- is absolutely symbolic of the fact that the man inspires in people an absolutely passionate sense of apathy. But even dull history bears recording, so, onward.

The essential biography:

Willard "Mitt" Romney was born March 12, 1947, and reportedly immediately began his campaign for the presidency of the United States. And yes, his real name is "Willard," which he quite reasonably changed to "Mitt," possibly following the release of that movie portraying a holder of his given name as a crazy rat-taming killer. Romney's biography is itself sort of a mixed review. He was raised in Michigan where his father, George Romney, was the governor (George Romney took several stabs at the presidency as well). From his youth, tales escape of Romney being a bully, of the sort which was in that day most often brushed off as a 'boys-will-be-boys' characteristic. Mostly the reports, filtered as they must be through decades of memory, are of Romney directing gender-bending insults towards effeminate (or possibly homosexual) classmates, and in one instance leading a group to tackle, pin, and shear hair from one such classmate. I would balance this negative report with some positive aspect of Romney's youth, but nothing comes up.

In any event, being a Mormon, Romney was not long thereafter sent off to do a mission in an underprivileged third world country: France. Critics note that by so doing, Romney avoided the draft (the Vietnam War then running hot), and managed to sit it out in style by living in a mansion with servants. But, had Romney stayed stateside, it is unlikely that he, as a governor's son, would ever have seen action in Vietnam unless he'd gone looking for it, and frankly one need not be condemned for deciding not to go looking for an unending morass of combat in a foreign jungle. (There is some oddity to the consideration that Romney, in his "missionary work" in then already-Christian France, would have had the always-difficult task of convincing Christians that his Book of Mormon trumped their Bible.)

In 1969, Romney married his high school sweetheart Ann (they've raised five children together), and entered Brigham Young University, from which he graduated in 1971, before heading to Harvard Law School (where he was a decade ahead of Barack Obama), from which he garnered both a law degree and an MBA in 1975. From there he went into consulting, ending up with a Massachusetts company called Bain (not to be confused with Batman villain Bane, whose similar name led Rush Limbaugh to cluelessly accuse the makers of The Dark Knight Rises of choosing that name as a swipe at Romney). Romney's time at Bain was quite successful on a personal level, elevating his personal wealth to a quarter billion dollars. While it is often harshly pointed out that Romney directed the shipping of a lot of jobs overseas, the larger reality is that it would have taken an absolutely heroic effort, and fairly severe corporate sacrifices, to keep those jobs in America, no matter who was doing the restructuring of those firms. During this time Romney was especially active in Mormonism, becoming a bishop in his region and then stake president.

The Political Years:

Having backed Paul Tsongas in the 1992 presidential cycle, Romney made his first personal foray into politics in the Republican Revolution of 1994 running for US Senator against Ted Kennedy. Romney tacked far to the left for this effort, even getting to the left of Kennedy on some issues, staunchly defending abortion while criticizing gun rights and refusing to sign on to the Contract With America; and so Romney ended up mounting respectable numbers in his loss to Kennedy. Romney returned to the public eye in 1999, hired by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee to run the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Finding the Games to have run deeply into debt, he did what any sensible public servant in his position would do, which was to go hat-in-hand to the federal government and ask for a bailout to be tacked on to the national debt. But naturally, securing the needed funds alone has never sufficed to turn failure into success, and it is roundly recognized that Romney did an excellent job of delivering a highly entertainingly packaged event.

Fresh off this success, Romney turned back to political pursuits, running for Governor of Massachusetts on much the same ideological positions as he took in the '94 Senate race. And elected he was, this time. Like the Olympic Games, Massachusetts was in debt, which Romney addressed by cutting spending on education, reducing support for municipalities, and artfully raising taxes and fees -- though he came away being able to claim that he didn't raise tax rates per se, he closed loopholes and eliminated deductions such that under Romney's governorship the tax burden on Massachusetts businesses rose quite significantly. Perhaps the most far-reaching initiative of Romney's administration was the state government takeover of the health care industry, commonly called RomneyCare (and effectively nationalized under the name ObamaCare)-- the centerpiece being, naturally, the mandatory requirement that all citizens buy health insurance.

Despite his one electoral victory, Romney was never an especially popular governor, and so in 2006 he opted not to run for a reelection which would most likely elude him. But Romney remained an active face in politics, almost immediately setting out on his bid for the 2008 presidential nomination. Romney won a handful of primaries and caucuses, and was generally seen as the second-runner behind eventual winner John McCain, who engendered some bad blood when he passed Romney over in selecting Sarah Palin for the vice-presidential slot on the GOP's ultimately doomed 2008 ticket. But Romney never stopped running; he persevered right up to the 2012 GOP nominating contest. He had some stumbles along the way, from insisting that "corporations are people" (by which he probably meant that corporations are run by people as opposed to the more unpopular legalistic notion of corporate personhood), commenting that he was "not concerned about the very poor" (because, as he explained, enough programs already exist to take care of them), and so forth.

But despite his lackluster debate performances and occasional gaffes, he was still able to unleash a tidal wave of campaign ads effectively tearing down his opponents (tearing down Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul and painting even ultraconservative Rick Santorum as a big spending big government type). In some states, Romney outspent his next highest-spending opponent ten times over. And thanks to this ability (and a few gaffes in Romney's favor by the GOP itself, such as "mistakenly" initially calling the critical first state of Iowa as a Romney win), Romney managed to eke out enough wins in enough states to paint the picture of himself as the inevitable GOP nominee, and so to knock out all his up-and-down-again opponents. And so, became his party's nominee.

Wheretofore, Mitt Romney?

On the issues, Romney ran from the left, from the right, from left to right to left again, from the middle, bottom, top, and from some directions known only to string theorists (indeed, one of the most effective critiques of the man's politics is the New York Times piece, A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney, describing Romney as suspiciously "a) utterly devoid of any ideological convictions and b) filled with aluminum powder"). Romney has embraced the legalization of same-sex marriage (and even issued same-sex marriage certificates), declared that marriage must only be between a man and a woman, called himself a protector of abortion rights, called for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, derided government regulations, imposed anti-business carbon-emission limits and a host of other such regulations, increased the taxes and fees on citizens of his state, called for lower taxes, championed the curtailment of Second Amendment rights, joined the NRA and mumbled some conciliatory comments on gun rights in the wake of various gun-related headlines, set up a mandatory comprehensive health coverage system which penalizes those who do not buy health insurance, condemned a mandatory comprehensive health coverage system which penalizes those who do not buy health insurance, sworn to "fight tooth and nail" against medical marijuana, and engaged in a litany of like contradictions.

With this record, and with the handicap of his nonconnective personality, the possibility that Romney would be elected President of the United States in 2012 objectively seemed slim -- polling was surprisingly consistent in having Romney forever four points down overall, and more in the must-win states -- but anything is possible, and that was proved when Romney enjoyed a surge of sorts following the first presidential debate, wherein he defied Obama's characterizations by steering hard to the center in his positions. But this advantage did not hold, and at the end of the campaign, Romney was defeated, by Obama's 332 electoral votes to Romney's 206.

Thereafter, Romney went into the sort of semi-seclusion known only to failed presidential candidates, emerging from time to time to snipe at politicians of opposing stripes. The end.

While writing the long history of the 2012 United States Republican Presidential Primary, I linked here many a time, and felt slightly disappointed in myself that I had not written anything about Mitt Romney, a man who was campaigning for the position of most powerful person on the planet. However, while I felt quite adequate at talking about Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, I felt less confident about researching and describing the entire history of Mitt Romney's life. Thankfully, someone else has now done that job for me. This writeup will concentrate on Mitt Romney's recent political activities.

Although I am (as some of you might know), a energetic follower of American politics, I first heard of Mitt Romney during the 2008 Republican Presidential Primary. That year, he ran as the conservative alternative to John McCain, and managed to win a few states before McCain clinched the nomination. However, since there was already a conservative alternative to McCain in the person of Mike Huckabee, his reason for being in the race was somewhat unclear. This was especially the case since up until two years before that election, Romney had been the governor of Massachusetts, and in keeping with that state's politics, had held a number of moderate positions.

After Barack Obama won the 2008 election, Mitt Romney continued to run for president. And here I should explain something about the Republican nomination process. In political folklore, the Republican Party usually is seen as nominating the "next in line", meaning whatever politician has worked his way up the ranks to be the most prominent member of the party. Since Mitt Romney was the second place finisher in the 2008 primary, he became the unofficial 2012 candidate. Of course the technicality of the primary process must be done, but in the minds of many of the party elites, the media and perhaps for Romney and his team, he was already the 2012 nominee in November of 2008.

I have become much more aware of the kayfabe of American politics this year, and I have no desire to harp on the image of Mitt Romney as clueless patrician. However, I have been consistently annoyed by the presumptions surrounding his campaign. Frankly, nothing about Mitt Romney's position as "presumed front runner" makes very much sense.

The powerful Tea Party movement wanted to nominate a candidate who was conservative and populist. Instead, the Republican party nominates a candidate whose actual governance was moderate, and whose demeanor is the opposite of populist.

The general public and swing voters usually are interested in someone who has shown success in a large state. Mitt Romney was the one-term governor of Massachusetts, where his signature accomplishment was a health care law that had an individual mandate that he now derides.

And of course, a politician should have a history of winning elections. Romney has run in two general elections, one of which he lost (to Ted Kennedy) and the other of which he won with a 5-point plurality.

He also was a successful executive and ran an Olympics. Neither of which, in my mind, qualifies as a slam dunk reason for being moved to the front of the Presidential nomination line.

I am not here to slam Mitt Romney. There are already so many people doing that. It is still possible for Mitt Romney to win this election and be a good president.

But nevertheless, I do feel that Romney's success, how he was moved to the front of the line and designated the "frontrunner" by the party elites and the media, in front of other political figures that had more experience and more electoral success than him, is a sign that the "Next In Line" system is probably not the best way to select a nominee. Because while I don't have anything against Mitt Romney, I do not think he has any special qualities that automatically qualify him for the position he has now reached.

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