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Romney and Public Service

December 2, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments


I don’t want to be unkind, or to have unkind feelings, but I’m finding it hard to come up with any sympathy for Romney. I mention this in the context of a Washington post article yesterday with the headline, “A detached Romney tends wounds in seclusion after failed White House bid.” It opens:

The man who planned to be president wakes up each morning now without a plan.

Mitt Romney looks out the windows of his beach house here in La Jolla, a moneyed and pristine enclave of San Diego, at noisy construction workers fixing up his next-door neighbor’s home, sending out regular updates on the renovation. He devours news from 2,600 miles away in Washington about the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, shaking his head and wondering what if.

Gone are the minute-by-minute schedules and the swarm of Secret Service agents. There’s no aide to make his peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. Romney hangs around the house, sometimes alone, pecking away at his iPad and e-mailing his CEO buddies who have been swooping in and out of La Jolla to visit. He wrote to one who’s having a liver transplant soon: “I’ll change your bedpan, take you back and forth to treatment.”

It’s not what Romney imagined he would be doing as the new year approaches.

Four weeks after losing a presidential election he was convinced he would win, Romney’s rapid retreat into seclusion has been marked by repressed emotions, second-guessing and, perhaps for the first time in the overachiever’s adult life, sustained boredom, according to interviews with more than a dozen of Romney’s closest friends and advisers.

Romney’s conviction that he would win is evidence of how out of touch he is, and why he was never suited to a political career. We learn later in the article that

Romney also is plotting his next career steps — a return to business, perhaps, or something in the charitable realm or with the Mormon Church, said friends who have discussed possibilities with him. He kept a diary on the campaign trail and is considering writing a book.

“He’s a very vibrant, young 65-year-old. He looks 55 and acts 45,” Kaufman said. “He’s got a lot of life left in him.”

Romney has ruled out running for another office, adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said. Still, he doesn’t plan to recede completely from public life. “He’ll be involved in some fashion because that’s the commitment of his family to public service,” Fehrnstrom said.

I’m kind of thinking that if he’s committed to public service, the best way to demonstrate that would in fact be to recede from public life. But here I am being unkind, which I didn’t want to be.

Let me close with a thought about public service from Atrios, reacting to the same Washington Post article.

Elsewhere in the article someone discusses the family’s commitment to public service. Argh. This isn’t about Romney, just this conceit that being a member of Congress, or a governor, or the f–king president, is about “public service.” There are public servants, like the teachers everybody dumps on these days, but people with high paying cushy jobs which virtually guarantee them a lifetime of future even cushier even more high paying jobs are hardly making some sort of sacrifice for good.

Indeed. Who are the real public servants?

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