Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mitt’s eHarmony Crisis And Other Chromosomal Issues

Mitt’s eHarmony Crisis And Other Chromosomal Issues

There is an interesting piece in the Washington Post by the conservative columnist Michael Gerson, “How Romney Can Solve His Woman Problem”.

A series of national and battleground state polls have shown that while men (and particularly white men) clearly prefer Romney, that advantage is swamped by President Obama’s even wider margin among women. 

Both men have been trotting out events to show their sensitivity to women’s issues.  Romney even has come up with a bizarre statistic to show that over 90% of the burden of the economic downturn has fallen exclusively on women -which is going to come a surprise to many people I know.  

These photo-ops, with the two men up on their respective podia, flanked by a phalanx of women, have the eerie asymmetry of a photo of Richard Nixon wearing a lei on a visit to Hawaii-while it appears to be real, you suspect photo-shopping.   

And, like many men (as my wife and daughter can surely attest to) both Romney and Obama seem to be not entirely surefooted when dealing with the opposite sex. 

Mitt is now in fugue, shuttling back and forth between sensitivity and manliness.  Off he went to the NRA to declare his unbending and eternal fealty to the rights of every man (and woman) to own a State militia’s worth of assault weapons.  Mitt has always been with them, he says. Never mind his record as Governor of Massachusetts, it was his evil twin Tim who snuck into the Statehouse and signed all those bills.  Tim, fortunately, has been confined to a pleasant place in the Berkshires where Lawrence Welk reruns play continuously in the background and everyone wears white. 

Mr. Obama, for his part, isn’t having the best of luck. First, there was the untimely and incredibly poorly chosen comments by Hilary Rosen, who is either a no-one looking for spare airtime, or the tightest of tight Obama advisors who has a double suite of offices in the White House and takes the first and last calls Mr. Obama makes every day (the Fox News version).  Mitt’s campaign has (thankfully) latched on to this, and ordered a huge quantity of commemorative t-shirts, to be airlifted to battleground states.

Then, the President’s South American Spring Break trip really has gone a little sour, with what might delicately be described as an excess of Y chromosomal behavior.  You do wonder where these folks parents are-I always tell my kids don’t do something that you don’t want a future employer to see on YouTube.  Naturally, Darrell Issa needed to launch an immediate (and completely non-partisan investigation) and all of Congress has been falling all over themselves in outrage over this atrociousness.  As an aside on the YouTube front, I’m a little surprised all these Members aren’t just a little more circumspect.  Not that any of them have at any time been willfully unfaithful to their (current) spouses but, as Newt himself said last year, patriotism can sometimes lead one to be so focused on the good of the nation that sacrifices have to be made at home.  Country first.

While I don’t think either Hilary or hijinks are going to quickly fade, it is worth going back to Gerson’s article, and why women still seem to be trending for Mr. Obama.  The GOP’s problem, he says,  “is the perception that it has become too ideological on many issues. Women and independent voters have seen a party enthusiastically confirming its most damaging stereotypes. The composite Republican candidate — reflecting the party’s ideological mean — has been harsh on immigration, confrontational on social issues, simplistic in condemning government and silent on the struggles of the poor. How many women would find this profile appealing on eHarmony?”

I've never been on eHarmony, but does this mean women are smarter than men, or simply more selective in whom they would date?  Again, and even putting aside the fun in Columbia, maybe women are smarter. Gerson suggests that a little sweet-talking might soothe the way; checkered tablecloth, candles, gypsy violin, and some compassionate conservatism (Gerson used to work for Dubya).  Mitt should show he cares, in perhaps a more personal way than a power-point presentation one would use at a private equity dog and pony show. 

Can Mitt do it?  Man up, but in an emotive and caring way?  Feed the base, but somehow tell women he values and adores them?  Reading Gerson, I found myself somehow reminded of Julian Fast’s book “Body Language” which devotes a fair amount of time on how to woo.  Fast talks about this off-Broadway sketch he went to where the actor and actress did nothing but read a list of 100 vegetables.  But all in French, and with all the Simone Signoret and Yves Montand Gauloise-puffing and passionate enunciating they could muster. 

I’m having a hard time keeping that vision in my head.  Yes, I know Mitt slummed it in Paris, but speaking French is so….Kerry-like.  And both Signoret and Montand were refused visas to enter the United States in the 50’s because of their left-leaning politics.  So, maybe that’s a poor model.  

Gerson can do better.  “There are plenty of sound conservative and free-market reforms that can be applied to improving the lives of the vulnerable.”  You would have to admit, those are powerful and even seductive words.   I wonder how you say "job-creator" in French.