No, Wait, I’ve Got It! Mitt’s the Turnaround Guy!

I swear I don’t want to write incessantly about Mitt Romney this week, but the hits just keep coming.

A Boston Globe piece by Matt Viser answers a fair number of questions about Romney’s decision to sprint towards the starting line of the 2016 presidential campaign after talking it down for so long. Yes, both Ann and Tagg Romney are now totally on board with the idea of a third run. Yes, this is a decision made very recently, though after a lot of prodding from ex-aides, especially the finance guy, Spencer Zwick. And yes, he seems to have been forced to make up his mind by the raids on his donors being undertaken the last few weeks by Jeb Bush.

But the most interesting–and inadvertently humorous–passages in Viser’s account involve the seat-of-the-pants scrambling by Team Mitt to come up with a rationale for his candidacy, not to mention a proto-message. In reality, the implicit rationale and message of nearly all presidential campaigns (at least those involving male candidates) is Ecce Homo, but that’s a bit immodest for actual voters. And so they have to come up with something better. And it’s tough!

“If you believe in your heart that this country is going to hell in a hand basket and is worse than ever, you owe it to your country to think about this,” one longtime Romney adviser said. “There’s a burden there to think this thing through carefully.”

“But there needs to be a rationale,” the adviser continued. “If we made one mistake — and we made more than one in ’12 — it was in not making people understand this is the Turnaround guy.”

Oh snap! Why didn’t they think of that back then? Could it be that calling a candidate famous for flip-flopping “the Turnaround guy” might be misinterpreted? And now that he seems to be flip-flopping on the very idea of running for president, is the label any better?

On top of everything else, the economy is rapidly improving, so analogizing the US to one a them floundering companies Bain “turned around” isn’t as compelling as it once might have been. So now it’s about “turning around” life for working folk. No, seriously:

Romney, in his recent private conversations, has asserted he can make long-term structural changes in the economy to help the middle class.

Well, that’s interesting. The most honest and credible defense for Mitt’s business career is that he was encouraging the sort of “creative destruction” that theoretically builds innovation and growth from the carnage inflicted on lowly wage-earners who can’t cut the global mustard. So now he’s going to be their hero against the ravages of the marketplace?

I think they’d better go back to the drawing board.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.