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Excitement? Not for Mitt.

Posted by Kara Miller, Culture Club  May 16, 2012 08:39 AM

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Consider George W. Bush.

Even if you’d rather not.

In particular, consider what he said while walking into a New York elevator on Tuesday.
“I’m for Mitt Romney,” the former president yelled to an ABC reporter as, presumably, the sliding metal door closed between them.

Not the most thrilling endorsement of all time. But still.

Now factor in a couple more - admittedly lightweight - pieces of political intelligence that have struck a nerve this week.

First, a quasi-rap video featuring Romney from The Gregory Brothers, whose YouTube stylings have garnered millions of hits. Showcased on The New York Times website, the video pokes fun at the former Massachusetts governor’s awkwardness, highlighting his famous love of Michigan’s trees.

The Gregory Brothers’ Romney rap also resurrects a gem of a quote from the campaign trail, in which Romney talks to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about loving comedy: “I used to watch Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, even The Keystone Kops.”

Not sure that will help bridge the gap with younger voters. But, frankly, I’m a huge Laurel and Hardy fan. And they don’t get a lot of press anymore.

Finally, this week also brought us James Lipton’s odd brand of Romney outreach.

On New York Magazine’s website, Lipton offered the candidate unsolicited advice on “How to Act Human,” which must have struck those at Romney HQ as a somewhat slightly cringe-inducing title.

“Another of Mr. Romney’s acting sins is sartorial,” Lipton notes, after fretting about the Republican nominee’s laugh and worrying that his body language is robotic. “Calling Wardrobe! The combination of neatly creased blue jeans below and crisp white dress shirt or bespoke jacket above is a failed mash-up of bowling alley and country club. Inauthenticity is, after all, today’s topic, and I suspect that if Mr. Romney weren’t running for president, he wouldn’t be caught dead in that mismatch.”

But - despite the slights and the jabs - something unexpectedly great happened to Mitt Romney this week: a New York Times/CBS poll reported that he has now pulled three points ahead of President Obama nationwide, up three points from a month ago.

Remarkably enough, the same poll also shows Obama crushing Romney when it comes to favorability, 45% to 31%. But perhaps, in a time of deep economic anxiety, likeability has somehow gotten decoupled from electability.

What if the malaise of 2012 has changed the conventional calculus? Forget “who would you rather have a beer with?” Maybe the new yardstick is: “who would I rather have invest my portfolio?” Or “who would I rather have do my taxes?”

If that’s the case, James Lipton can go back to his day job. Sometimes, acting human can be overrated.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.
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About the author

Kara Miller is an Assistant Professor of English, specializing in journalism, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. She also serves as a guest panelist on WGBH-TV's “Beat the Press” and contributes to 89.7 FM WGBH (NPR). More »

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