We got home from New York a little past 8:30 Tuesday night. Gail went straight for the TV to watch election results. I eventually joined her, and we would stay up until 11:00, long enough to hear Obama’s remarks. But by then, 2:00 am New York time, I was losing focus. Some minutes earlier, when Romney finally conceded, I was paying closer attention. To my surprise, I felt no sympathy for his personal pain. Instead, it was all I could do to resist jeering him. Or maybe I didn’t resist. Gail will remember.
This has nothing to do with his political or policy positions (whatever they are) and everything to do with his moral emptiness. Heck, I felt sympathy for that scary and evil human being Richard Nixon as I watched him make his famous farewell remarks to the White House staff that unforgettable morning of August 9, 1974. But Romney? No sympathy at all.
Can he really be worse than Nixon? Well, Nixon may have been evil, but in the pursuit of recognizable goals, goals he stated clearly enough. He may have hungered for power, but to use for specific aims. What on earth did Romney want to achieve? Why did he want to be president? And why was he convinced that he deserved to be?
Gary Wills reflected on Romney at the New York Review of Books blog yesterday. He captured Romney’s emptiness well, contrasting Romney with other defeated presidential candidates going back to Goldwater. They led honorable lives before and after their defeats. Romney? Here is Wills’ conclusion:
Many losing candidates became elder statesmen of their parties. What lessons will Romney have to teach his party? The art of crawling uselessly? How to contemn 47 percent of Americans less privileged and beautiful than his family? How to repudiate the past while damaging the future? It is said that he will write a book. Really? Does he want to relive a five-year-long experience of degradation? What can be worse than to sell your soul and find it not valuable enough to get anything for it? His friends can only hope he is too morally obtuse to realize that crushing truth. Losing elections is one thing. But the greater loss, the real loss, is the loss of honor.