Monday, December 18, 2023

the last book I ever read (Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins, excerpt eight)

from Romney: A Reckoning by McKay Coppins:

There is an old campaign adage: When you’re explaining, you’re losing. Romney’s problem was that he loved almost nothing more than explaining things. He believed it was one of his great strengths—his “superpower,” as he put it himself—and he held a naive conviction in the idea that logic would prevail if it was stated plainly enough.

Romney’s core argument—that the healthcare plan he’d championed as governor worked well in Massachusetts but not as a one-size-fits-all federal solution—was reasonable enough. But reasonable didn’t play anymore in Republican presidential primaries, and the conservative media panned his speech. He was dismissed as “arrogant,” his plan deemed “a liability.” On Fox Business, the executive editor of the Weekly Standard complained, “He dug himself in deeper.” The Journal ran another editorial: “These are unbridgeable policy and philosophical differences, though Mr. Romney is nonetheless trying to leap over them like Evel Knievel heading for the Snake River Canyon.”

The response demoralized, and embittered, Romney. It wasn’t just that so many of his critics had their facts wrong. It was the rank commitment to dogma over practical outcomes. “It was a little ironic,” he’d grumble to me years later, “that saving human lives was seen by some as being disqualifying in a Republican primary.”

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