Thanks to Christmas, in the past few days I have been a little lax both with posting and reading (my newspapers). However, despite this story being a few days old, one article in Saturday’s Washington Post caught my interest and I feel I must comment. The article, entitled “Romney says he can bridge differences”, reads like either campaign propaganda or something Putin’s office would release. It expounds mainly on Romney’s special brand of politics and governance, with keen attention paid to differentiate Romney’s style as more hands on, business like, and post partisan. But what interested me especially was Romney’s claim to be able to succeed at post partisanship where Obama has failed (Obama too campaigned on moving the country beyond partisanship). Romney places Obama’s “toxic relationship” with congressional Republicans on the fact that he “doesn’t know how to lead”. And he attributes his own success in Massachusetts (with a democratic legislature) on the fact that he “respects people” and doesn’t blame everyone else, he was “practical and not ideological”, he was polite and formal, he sought compromise whenever possible, he disallowed his administration from ad hominem attacks on the legislature/their opponents, and that he seems to share credit even with political opponents. This may be all true, and all well and good. However, I agree with Thomas E. Mann, that Romney’s claim is “…as naïve as Obama’s post-partisan politics promises”.
Romney was undoubtedly successful in terms of budget deficits and amount of legislation passed during his tenure in Massachusetts (if this is how you keep score). However Massachusetts is not America, and the Tea Party infested US congress is not the Democrat controlled 2003 Massachusetts. Even Boehner seems unable to keep his troops in line, and it would probably be quite entertaining to see an outside influence attempt to force them to do their bidding. However, even this is not the major problem with Romney’s boast. Romney is claiming to be able to unite America behind his banner of pragmatism, he is boasting of his ability to cross party lines. But it is doubtful whether he will be able to command the respect of even the cross section of his party, let alone the cross section of America. Every single day we read polls, columns and blog posts expounding on the fear many conservatives have of Romney. They fear he is not conservative enough, or is someone prone to saying purely what people want to hear. They do not respect him. They will not follow him. Especially the Tea Party and hard line ideological amongst the Republicans. There are many, many problems with Obama’s leadership style and how he has handled the myriad of problems he has faced with ideological obstructionism. And I have great respect for Romney on a lot of issues, especially with his pragmatism. But there is one thing you cannot say about Obama; that does not have the loyalty of his own party. Can we really say that about Romney? How can he unite America if he cannot unite the Republicans?