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What’s Behind Romney’s Gaffes?

Don Rose 31 July 2012 2 Comments

Most of the political news this opening weekend of the London Olympics was taken up with Mitt Romney’s disastrous gaffes on the first leg of an overseas trip designed to give needed foreign policy credibility. I won’t reiterate them, because if you haven’t heard them by now you probably don’t have a pulse.


Will even restrain from repeating his juiciest campaign bloopers, because you’ll see them again and again in Democratic commercials.

At least the man didn’t bring gifts of ham and cheese sandwiches to Israel on the second leg of his journey. Instead he delivered a pandering neo-con speech following a tête-à-tête with his pal Bibi Netanyahu, who clearly wants to help defeat Obama. Romney proposed a break with every president since Truman by promising to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The London gaffes will have zero affect on the campaign because his constituency doesn’t give a damn what Britishers or other foreigners think. The Jerusalem promise may solidify a few conservative Jewish or Evangelical votes, but foreign policy will play little role in November’s election (barring a new war), even though one of the three scheduled debates is devoted to it. If it mattered, Barack Obama would be polling miles ahead, which he ain’t.

Nevertheless, many questions come to mind about Romney’s propensity to phrase things robotically and blurt nonsequiturs, giving the appearance of being uncomfortable in his own skin and otherwise unable to relate to most people.

Months ago, as Romney’s gaffes were piling up, it crossed my mind that he might have a touch of Asperger’s syndrome, the form of autism that inhibits normal social interaction.

But after numerous reports from friends that he is personally engaging, often warm and even funny at times, Dr. Rose chucked that diagnosis. Those reports were corroborated and documented to a degree by his highly successful role as a businessman, Olympics chieftain and governor of Massachusetts. His gubernatorial speeches and interviews usually were comfortable and articulate—granted he was beginning to flip-flop on many issues.

The ultimate conclusion is that the real Romney might actually be reasonable and moderate—even liberal as GOPers go—but he knows that the real Romney is unacceptable to today’s Republican majority. Further, he knows that details of his work at Bain Capital are embarrassing, as would be details of his religion and certainly his financial and tax situation. Thus we have a man who is playing an uncomfortable ideological role and must evade and avoid discussion of most of his life.

He must stay tightly scripted and secretive, adhere to his new role as far-right believer while constantly in the limelight and forced to interact with all kinds of people outside his normal social sphere—in addition to the nasty media. That can throw anyone off script.

He is living a lie. That’s a huge psychic strain to maintain 24/7, and to my mind the real reason he continues to bloop and otherwise appear to be an Asperger’s patient.

How in the world can he hold up in the debates?


Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

image a fishing gaff, sort of like a gaffe


  • Stephen Jordan said:

    Au contraire, I do give a damn about what foreigners think; as a matter of fact, I’ve spent years living among them. But to the point: this month President Obama received Hugo Chavez’s warm words while Mitt Romney received endorsements from Lech Walesa and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Of the three endorsements, I’m certain that President Obama would take the Chavez endorsement over the other two.

  • Jim Ridings said:

    What gaffes? Just because Romney’s opponents say they are gaffes do not make them gaffes. Obama is a walking gaffe.

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