Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Public Squares

David Paul Kuhn:
In 1972, a young aide named Patrick Buchanan suggested that Richard Nixon frame the presidential campaign as "square America" vs. "radical America." The square won 49 states.
Pundits tend to describe Mitt Romney's vanilla disposition as a liability. The Washington Post recently asked, "Why does Mitt Romney seem so stiff?" But there's a more practical question: How much does it matter? Stiffs can become president, even in this television age....
Back in 1972, Nixon didn’t merely campaign for “square America.” He was intrinsically square. His second-grade teacher recalled that little Dick Nixon came to school every day wearing a white starched shirt and long sleeves. That square went on to win one of the largest landslides in American history....
It’s a mistake to equate Romney’s square demeanor with his plutocratic demeanor. The latter is a serious problem. Nixon exuded stiff. But it was working stiff. And Nixon brilliantly understood the power of grunt imagery. “I got a couple of letters of commendation. But I was just there when the bombs were falling,” he said of his wartime service during his Checkers speech.
Romney could never give that speech. “I keep waiting for Mitt to say, ‘Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?’ ” Rick Perry joked at the Gridiron dinner.

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