No one except donors, advisors and other Romneys has heard the live sound of Mitt Romney's voice since last Thursday. There are no plans for him to speak, live, to anyone but donors, advisors and other Romneys until the middle of next week. I suppose you could call this a strategy, but it's not the typical way you expect someone to approach a job search, when getting the job involves meeting people and securing their votes.
You usually associate it with authoritarian states where the general has died, but state-run radio isn't letting on.
Wouldn't it be cool if Mitt never returned from his vacation, but one of the boys -- let's say Tagg -- emerged and announced he was dear leader now?
Of course, the explanation for Mitt's silence is simpler and sadder than that. Mitt Romney is lying low until his party stops screaming about stinging up any tax-raising freedom-killer who ever imposed a healthcare mandate. He also knows he's not winning this thing with rallies; he's winning it with TV ads. And he's not going out of his way to give a single speech more than he absolutely has to, because his speeches are awful.
But they don't have to be.
They can be beautiful.
If you don't have anything to say, why not make it beautiful?
Mitt Romney has been giving the same basic speech since he started running for president, in late 1999. Start with a local reference, often to the weather. Take exception to something the government is doing, and make it clear that you would certainly do something else, but leave it to the listeners' imaginations what. Say "success," "leadership," "Olympics" and "office supplies." Segue into an anecdote about red tape and a reference to David Landes' Wealth and Poverty of Nations - this always kills; crowds love it when you talk about David Landes' Wealth and Poverty of Nations - and bring it home with this:
"There was a time - not so long ago - when each of us could walk a little taller and stand a little straighter because we had a gift that no one else in the world shared. We were Americans. That meant something different to each of us but it meant something special to all of us. We knew it without question. And so did the world. Those days are coming back. That's our destiny. We believe in America. We believe in ourselves. Our greatest days are still ahead. We are, after all, Americans! Thank you and God bless America."
If we each have a different explanation for our greatness (and good posture) and we each believe it without question, don't some of us have to be wrong? And what's patriotic about believing in yourself? What does that have to do with anything? And isn't it kind of circular to say Americans know they're great because they're Americans?
The short form is even more disjointed:
"That's our destiny. Join me. Walk together this Tuesday. And take another step every day until November 6th. We believe in America. We believe in ourselves. Our greatest days are still ahead. We are, after all, Americans!"
And sometimes it breaks down entirely, like HAL 9000 crossed with Gertrude Stein:
"I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love."
That's seriously debased. You can dislike Mitt Romney and still not want that to happen again.
A stump speech can talk about America and not sound like someone's mom wrote their class president campaign speech on their hand. It really can. Here's how beautiful it can be:
I think the true discovery of America is before us. I think the true fulfillment of our spirit, of our people, of our mighty and immortal land, is yet to come. I think the true discovery of our own democracy is still before us. And I think that all these things are certain as the morning, as inevitable as noon. I think I speak for most men living when I say that our America is Here, is Now, and beckons on before us, and that this glorious assurance is not only our living hope, but our dream to be accomplished.
Okay, it's not really a stump speech. It's the credo from You Can't Go Home Again.
But how nice is that?
I don't think Mitt Romney should try to be Thomas Wolfe. It's just - well, it's July 4th - and I just wanted to point out that you can love America, and say it, and not sound like a dumb bumptious sleazo.
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