Does Mitt Romney Really Want to be President of the United States?

I don’t think so.

All America has seen the surreptitious recording of Romney at a Boca Raton fundraiser, answering donors’ questions, and in one clip opining that almost half of America is a vast, parasitic class.

Some conservative activists think Romney’s right to have said this, but most pundits (regardless of ideology) think it’s a politically destructive observation.

Romney’s wildly wrong about America, of course, and in a way that’s startling. Worse – yes, worse – he professes no feeling for half of his countrymen: “and so job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

What does this say about Romney? It says he’s better suited to private conversations with those of his ilk than he is in a public role. He’s evidently happier with the private than with the public.

One may have heard Romney speak fifty times, and never heard him speak so comfortably. For those who doubted he had any poise at all, here’s the answer: he’s relaxed in the company of wealthy, often self-made, financiers.

Although neither Romney nor his wife is self-made (his protestations of such notwithstanding), this fundraiser was hardly an old-money gathering; it was not a gathering of coupon-clippers, but of successful, working executives. (Had the attendees been from old families, they would not have been half so receptive to Romney’s message.)

Here was Romney in his element, in a money-man’s version of sitting at the end of a bar and philosophizing. That’s not a bad life, and in his investments, Romney’s created many opportunities for himself and others. There’s nothing wrong — there should be nothing wrong — with that pursuit.

It’s not, however, a life suited to politics. America has had many wealthy politicians, but among those of any success, they have all – I truly think all – shown more understanding of ordinary people than Romney shows. Without that undertanding and empathy, Romney’s useless to his political party, or any political party. (Reagan and Kemp, for example, deeply believed in the talents of people generally.)

There’s much that’s good about a life spent in the boardroom. Romney should have stayed there.

Posted on 9.18.12 at Daily Adams.