The Corner

Phoniness

Below, Maggie Gallagher has posted a video claiming that Romney is a big phony. She says, “just to be clear,” that she disagrees with the video. She then says, “The real Romney would be a much better candidate than the guy who is pretending he’s not rich.”

I’ve watched pretty much all the debates, I think, and Romney has been called on several times to defend his wealth. He always has, saying he has been successful and wants to help others be successful as well. In my view, he has been admirably unapologetic.

Elsewhere in her post, Maggie says that Romney is “everything except authentic.” I hear this a lot, from pundits. But I wonder whether we’re qualified to judge another person’s authenticity. It is a very big psychological claim, to say that another person is inauthentic. This goes double for a person we know only from a distance.

If Romney shouted more, à la Santorum, or created personal dramas, à la Newt — would that make him more authentic? An even temperament can be perfectly authentic. I’ve always thought I should have more of one.

By the way, here is a snippet from Romney from a debate in December:

I didn’t grow up poor. And if somebody is looking for someone who’s grown up with that background, I’m — I’m not the person. But I — but I grew up with a dad who’d been poor, and my dad wanted to make sure I understood the lessons of hard work. And my mom and dad wanted to make sure that I understood the principles that made America the greatest nation on earth.

And so they made sure we had jobs as we were growing up. They made sure we didn’t spend money foolishly. And they made sure that I had — a care and concern for other people. I was able to serve my church overseas, and to — to meet people there that had very difficult circumstances in their life. I also spent time in this country, serving as a pastor in my — in my church, and again, having the occasion to work with people that were really struggling. I saw marriages under great stress.

You see, when — when people lose jobs, marriages get strained, people’s health gets affected — people become depressed. And — and I’m in this race, not — not because I grew up without means, but because I understand what it takes to get America working again. And I love this country enormously and understand the principles and understand the specifics that it takes to get America creating jobs again. That’s why I’m in the race.

The Republican party could do worse. And if we give in to petty populism, we will.

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