Sunday, November 04, 2012

Why does Mitt Romney want to be president?

Ezra Klein answers Why does Mitt Romney want to be president?

"But after spending the last year talking to Romney advisers and former colleagues, as well as listening to him on the campaign trail, I’ve come to see this description as insufficient. It’s not so much that Romney lacks a core as that his core can’t readily be mapped by traditional political instruments. As a result, he is free to be opportunistic about the kinds of commitments that people with strong political cores tend to value most.

What Romney values most is something most of us don’t think much about: management. A lifetime of data has proven to him that he’s extraordinarily, even uniquely, good at managing and leading organizations, projects and people. It’s those skills, rather than specific policy ideas, that he sees as his unique contribution. That has been the case everywhere else he has worked, and he assumes it will be the case in the White House, too. When we look at Romney’s career and see a coreless opportunist, we’re just looking at the wrong data."

"This is why Romney thinks he should be president. A lifetime of data has proved to him that his management skills constitute a unique and powerful contribution. In Romney’s world, there’s nothing strange about that, which may also explain his willingness to be unusually strategic, even cynical, about the policies he supports."

"Some argue that the president holds the ultimate power to “agenda set,” even if much of that power is derived from Congress’s willingness to let him set its agenda. There’s truth to that, but it obscures the very substantive negotiations between the White House and Congress. "

"The answer, then, to the question “What does Mitt Romney think?” is this: It matters even less what Romney thinks than it matters for most presidents. Romney’s policy preferences are unusually weak, his deal-making instincts are unusually strong and his party will be unusually aggressive in policing his agenda."

"In choosing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the lead architect of the Republican House’s legislative agenda, as his running mate, Romney signaled his broad acceptance of Norquist’s argument. Whether a Romney administration would corral the votes to pass Ryan’s agenda remains an open question."

"At this point, neither voters nor Romney have sufficient data to know how he would govern. With a Republican Congress, he would govern from the right. With a Democratic Congress, he would move to the center. If he faces a divided Congress, he will look for compromise to get “the best possible thing done.” Without knowing the composition of Congress, we can’t know the kind of president Romney would be. We know he can manage, but we don’t know which company he will be managing."

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