Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm not much of a board game...

...player, but I have played Risk! once or twice. I had to have it explained to me each time (of course), and I understood the strategy to be: form alliances and then screw your allies. So, after forming an alliance in the opening stages of my first game, I promptly turned on my partner at the first opportunity. When he protested to me, "What the heck are you doing?," I answered (honestly) "But I thought that's how the game was played!"

Why do I bring this up? Now that we're in the waning days of the 2012 campaign, it's looking more and more like President Obama is going to be reelected. (Chris Matthews said yesterday that Mayor Michael Bloomberg would not be endorsing the president this late in the game unless he felt pretty confident that he was going to win. In other words, it was as good an indicator as any of what we can expect next Tuesday.)

So allow me a (pre-) post-mortem on the Romney campaign, or at least one aspect of it. And that's the mystery (to me) of how such an exemplary human being as Mitt Romney could run such a dishonest and dishonorable campaign for president.

Consider the private Mitt Romney: excellent student (no, crazy excellent student) who earned an MBA and a law degree from Harvard simultaneously; started Bain Capital and made zillions for himself and his investors; active in his church; and married to a beautiful woman with five handsome and successful sons. I want to be that guy!

(Romney reminds me of one of my neighbors who, from all appearances, seems to have a great marriage; six nice kids; a lucrative job; and has been active in his church and the community. I used to tell my wife, "He's Superman!")

Given that the private Mitt Romney is such an admirable guy, why (oh why) has the public Mitt Romney been such a cynical candidate? (Sometimes I think he'd make even Richard Nixon blush!) And it's not just 2012; he was a shameless flip-flopper back in 2008. (And disliked, I've read, by all his Republican primary opponents: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee. That should tell you something.) And, Romney has been pretty much the same guy since he first ran for public office way back in 1994: a shape-shifter willing to say and do anything -- no matter how disingenuous -- to get elected.

So how do you square the private Mitt Romney -- a man of unimpeachable character and integrity --with the public Mitt Romney, who's utterly lacking in both? (One of my colleagues said that the private Romney might not be all that we have been led to believe: "Mike, a leopard doesn't change his spots.")

I, however, have a different take (as of this morning, at least). And that brings me back to the game of Risk! I suspect that the public Mitt Romney acts the way he does because he thinks that's how the game of politics is played. He probably is a good man in private life.

And, as of next Wednesday, Mitt Romney can go back to being a good man ... in private life.

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