In Favor of Romney

Both Kevin Drum and Jon Cohn have pieces up outlining the positives for McCain picking Romney as his VP.

There’s a little bit of merit to it, but the biggest perceived benefit is still the money factor. There’s a whole lot of electoral problems with the idea of tapping Romney as a running mate.

1. Cohn makes a seminal point of this

That brings me to the last, potentially most important political asset Romney brings to the ticket. McCain is lousy on the attack. Quite unlike Barack Obama, who has mastered the art of criticizing an opponent while smiling, McCain seems to have two modes: Either he’s being a principled statesman disdainful of attack politics, in which he (again, to me) comes off as genuinely admirable, or he’s being an aggressive partisan, in which he comes off as shrill. I’ve always assumed that McCain’s inability here was a combination of discomfort with the role and sheer lack of skill.

Romney has neither problem: He’s a superb debater–a quick thinker who’s always throughly prepared. And he has no compunction whatsoever about tearing an opponent apart. More than almost any politician I’ve ever seen, he seems willing to say whatever he has to say in order to win.

Really? Maybe I’m an odd case, but if you asked me to recall great moments in Romney debate zing, the first thing I’d think of would be the debate in Michgian when Romney tried to trot out a tortured, over rehearsed joke about Law & Order and Fred Thompson, barely an hour out of bed, threw it back in face, and the second would be the last New Hampshire debate when John McCain conceded that Romney was “definitely the candidate of change.” In both, Romney is clearly on the losing end of the exchange.

2. Cohn also makes a point of Romney’s “strong appeal” in Michigan, but as I’ve written before, there’s simply no evidence for that conclusion.

3. The simple fact of the matter is that people don’t like Mitt Romney. Romney was generally viewed as someone who had no compunction about saying anything to win, and maybe didn’t really have any convictions outside of getting elected. The notion of Romney as conservative champion is rather strange, since Romney didn’t become the right’s boy until it became clear the race was between Romney, McCain, and Huckabee, and the mantle fell to Romney by default.