Mitt Romney looks pretty good for a guy who died 38 years ago. The Republican governor of Massachusetts is fit, vibrant, articulate, with the perfect amount of gray around the temples of his slicked-back dark hair. Think Ted Danson meets a George Hamilton who uses sun block. It’s bad form to comment on the physical appearance of even a politician. But in the case of a pol nicknamed Matinee Mitt, it’d be almost insulting if you didn’t.
Webb then enters into the confessional:
True confession: I didn’t want to like him. Mainly because everybody else in the press does—excepting, of course, the public prints in his hometown. (Isn’t that always the way ?) Plus, he carries the obvious baggage of the silver-spoon set: a member of the Lucky Sperm Club who sank the triple-bank shot of success in business, politics and even sports—as head of the ’ 02 Olympics in Salt Lake City. What’s not to hate ?
But Romney doesn’t come across as an insufferable patrician-politician forever on the make. When a local TV reporter asked the first- (and last ) term governor of Massachusetts to describe the arc of his political career, he joked, “If I had to describe my political career, I’d say short.”
Unlikely, too. Here’s a Mormon Republican Michigander by way of Utah who’s the conservative governor of... Massachusetts. The bluest of blue states where the ideal pol is considered an Irish Catholic with a last name of Kennedy. Or at least the initials JFK. And here’s Romney without a whiff of a Baw-ston accent. Midwest whitebread all the way.
And then, the obligatory jab at our current POTUS was not to be missed out on:
. . . Huckabee and Romney—a couple of mediumshot contenders for president—on the same stage, side by side, trading acts.
Call it a draw. Both are clintonesque in their ability to work a room full of friendlies. Think George W. Bush; then think the opposite. The GOP presidential primary may not be loaded with familiar names come ’ 08, but at least it promises to be intelligible.
After a quick discussion of the Mass Healthcare reform Webb opines about the plan:
"But even if RomneyCare fails, it’ll make for an interesting experiment. And it’s hard to criticize Matinee Mitt for trying a radical solution to a never-ending problem."
Still later, Webb seems impressed about with Romney's political style:
As for that bit about Romney’s moderate bona fides, I found myself a lot less interested in that question after listening to him go on about health care and schools. He can talk education policy with the best D. C. wonks, and embraces the kind of real reforms that drive unions to sue—like merit pay for teachers. It struck me that Romney may be a social conservative in the way that Huckabee is: Firm in his faithbased beliefs, but not willing to ride them over a cliff.
And no discussion of Romney would be complete without at least a mention of Romney's religion:
Finally, the obvious. Mormon. Massachusetts. Money. Where’s the red-state appeal ? “Conservatives like people who battle the opposition in their home land. And I’m a conservative in a liberal state.” He is that.