A Touch of Mail

by Jay Nordlinger

Today’s Impromptus, “The Superb Mitt Romney,” has provoked a reaction, predictably (and gratifyingly). Have four bits from four letters.

In this column, I talk a little about the instant revision that can take place after an election. The truth about the campaign is sometimes thrown out the window. I relate a particular memory of 1984. That was an exciting and turbulent election. At the end, Reagan pulled away, winning 49 states to 1. Then everyone said, “What a yawner. Reagan’s landslide was inevitable.” Dishonest, I believe.

A reader writes,

I was stationed in Germany during the ’84 campaign, and our news came from the Armed Forces Network, Stars and Stripes, and local German TV. All of them breathlessly reported a tight campaign all fall.

With the time difference, we went to bed on Election Night before the polls closed even in some East Coast states, and it was very odd to wake up the next morning to hear them reporting on a Reagan landslide as though they had been expecting it all along.

Another reader writes,

I was a Newt man through and through, but Romney gained my respect as the campaign unfolded . . .

Many of the commentators, as you say, have no clue about practical politics — its challenges and requirements. Getting elected to office is no simple thing. I’ve been an activist for a long time. I’ve licked envelopes and managed statewide campaigns. I’m as conservative as one can be, but I also keep in mind the cliché: Politics is the art of the possible.

Our third reader:

One of the reasons for the degree of venom against Romney is that the stakes in this election were just so damned high. That does not excuse some of the dumb or vicious things that conservatives have written, but it helps explain them.

Yes, Romney was a “superb” human being, but he was far from a superb politician. He was largely a self-made businessman and developed instincts and skills appropriate to that world. He never had to endure the Darwinian struggle among sewer rats that professional politicians do to survive to the next level.

I don’t know. It’s not nothing to win a governorship and a major-party presidential nomination. I’m still working on dog-catcher.

Anyway, the final letter:

A quick anecdote: A good friend of mine is a physician in the military, stationed at Camp Pendleton. He and his wife attend a chapel that is also attended by one of the Romneys’ sons. A couple of weeks after the election, they were late to chapel, and went to sit in the foyer. There were Mitt and Ann, quietly sitting on a couch.

My friend’s wife burst into tears and gave Mitt a big hug, letting him know how proud they were of him. Mitt was gracious during this spectacle, repeatedly thanking her for the support and her husband’s service.

Why she was crying? Because she’s a tired military wife. Because she has four children and is nervous about the country they’ll inherit as adults. Because she saw in Mitt someone who understands the challenges her family is facing and would work to fix them. She saw lost opportunity in the rejection of a great candidate for president, who has been successful at just about everything he’s been tasked to do.