Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What is it about Massachusetts' governors?

Now that even Rick Santorum concedes that Romney will be the Republican nominee for president, I notice an odd thing:  Romney reminds me of another former governor of Massachusetts governor, Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.  Both seem to be cold, calculating, data oriented analysts, but seem to be missing the warmth factor.  

Dukakis famously made a pretty big mistake in a presidential debate by telling CNN debate moderator, Bernard Shaw, that he would not favor the death penalty if his wife, Kitty, had been raped and murdered.  He answered as an ideologue, as an analyst, about how the data showed that the death sentence does not deter violent crime.  There was no human response to the abhorrent suggestion that his own wife had been subjected to such a degrading death.  He seemed to be a robot, a man with only a brain and without a heart.  He didn't have to change his position on the death penalty, but he could have shown a beating heart if he had said he would want to find the bastard and kill him himself, and then reaffirmed his principles.  But, he was just a cold fish policy wonk and it hurt him pretty badly in the election, which he lost, of course to Bush I.  

Patricia Murphy of the Daily Beast, makes the same kind of observation about Mitt Romney:  that he lacks a certain sense of humanity.  

Dukakis spoke in ideological terms about the government policy, rather than about people.  Romney speaks as a CEO about the economy in abstract data driven arguments and doesn't speak in terms of people's lives.

Of course, Romney's good luck is that he is not running against Mr. Warmth.  Obama has the same remote, cool, data oriented temperament.  One of the things I find so fascinating about this election is the likeness of the two candidates on a temperamental level - cool, remote, analytic, dispassionate.  Two Dukakises running for president, odd actually.