The Paradoxes Mr. Romney Must Sell

 Mitt Romney has a problem.  He has to somehow convince some people that he is exactly the opposite of what he’s trying to convince others he is.  I know; confusing, huh.  That’s why his campaign seems so wishy-washy.

Romney has spent the last five years convincing conservatives that he’s a hard-nosed, take-no-prisoners business man who will straighten out the economy by slashing entitlements (just not the world’s biggest entitlement—the U.S. defense budget; but I digress). 

Now, as he moves into the general election and tries to woo centrist independents in battleground states (most of our votes really don’t matter), he has to somehow convince them that he’s not part of the Wall Street bunch that helped create the current recession.  He has to convince them that, as a private venture capitalist, he’s different from the hedge fund managers getting million dollar bonuses for helping to saddle people (and taxpayers) with unsustainable debt.  He has to somehow convince them that despite the apparent increases in greed, dishonesty, selfishness, opportunism, etc. that the economy needs LESS regulation to keep these same maladies in check.  And all the while he has to maintain to conservatives that he’s not the guy that got elected in Massachusetts and championed the model for Obamacare.

“A new Fox News poll released Wednesday [June 27] shows that by a 14 percentage-point margin, more voters think Barack Obama (41 percent) has a clear plan to improve the economy than think Mitt Romney does (27 percent).”  What!?!  How is the Economy Guy, the Turn-Around Artist, the Businessman with Real World Experience scoring a third below the Community Organizer, the Academic on plans to improve the economy?  The centerpiece of Romney’s campaign is his ability to turn around the economy, but people just aren’t buying it.

It’s a matter of trust.  Do you trust the devil you know (Mr. Obama) or the devil you don’t, who, with his offshore accounts, his 15% tax rate, and his elevator . . . in his garage . . . for his cars(!) sure looks like the crooks on Wall Street?

As David Brooks said recently “”Romney is going to have to define a vision of modern capitalism. He’s going to have to separate his vision from the scandals and excesses we’ve seen over the last few years. He needs to define the kind of capitalist he is and why the country needs his virtues.”

I think centrist independents have lost so much trust in “business” (or more properly, 21st Century American capitalism) over the last decade that being a businessman, as great as that seems to some, brings with it too much questionable baggage that could become a millstone for the Romney campaign.

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