In the waning days of 2012, TIME put God back in some American homes. The magazine crowned Barack Obama as its Man of the Year.
The snake in the grass spat, slithered and hissed its way back to the White House.
Objectively speaking, Mitt Romney would have made a far more interesting choice for the coveted cover had the media been interested in “interesting.” But no. Barbara Walters has bowdlerized the concept of “fascinating.” The detritus of humanity paraded by the reality TV racket is where Barbara’s countrymen turn for “fascinating” figures. In her defense, the boorish broadcaster is catering to a complicit audience.
Let me be clear. Romney’s repeal-and-replace statism was irreconcilable with this writer’s libertarianism. I could not bring myself to support him. Romney was wrong on China. Wrong on Iran. Wrong on Russia. Wrong on Foreign policy, in general. Wrong on almost everything.
Mr. Romney, moreover, had surrounded himself with Bush-era neoconservatives and had chosen a thoroughbred neoconservative as a VP candidate. Neoconservative kingpin Bill Kristol had practically anointed the House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan as heir apparent to the neoconservative project. He is “strong on national defense,” Kristol kept telling Neil Cavuto with that broad Cheshire-Cat grin of his. Yes, the Ryan-Romney ticket had Kristol licking his chops for war.
Any tweaks to the welfariat Mitt might have made would have been minor—any cuts to spiraling spending-rate increases he would have likely used to justify waging more wars.
Yet as incongruous as this may seem, it is nevertheless true that Mitt Romney is a fine man—a man with great personal virtues, if profound flaws in political philosophy. Ann Romney, herself a delightful lady, is a lucky woman. Romney is a great provider, is fabulously devoted to family and faith, is consistently generous and charitable to all those around him, and brilliant in all endeavors, academic and entrepreneurial.
Unlike Obama’s university transcripts, Romney’s would have stood up to the scrutiny that never came. His individual achievements outside of politics show Mr. Romney to be nothing like “Bronco Bamma,” who is a spawn of the state, and a 4×4, full-throttle force for its distributive powers.
Money was Mitt’s Mark of Cain. So were his wicked work ethic and whiteness.
Romney was booed when he wooed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Enough to provoke the ire of blacks, Latinos, ladies of all hues, the halt and the lame was the mere hint that the too-white-to-like Romney would slow down the gravy train.
Lickspittle Republicans were as eager as the Democratic representatives of these identity groups to lambaste Mr. Romney for being too attractive, too macho, too white, too Christian, and too rich. No one could have failed to notice that Mitt Romney resembles the “Mad Man” played by Jon Hamm, in the eponymous AMC series. Both men are tall, dark and handsome, with the kind of picture-perfect, quintessential American good looks. Both hide their feelings and are spare with their emotions. When they show their softer side–it actually means something. Each is dutiful and dependable.
Such qualities, once considered desirable in a man, now offend the dominatrixes who run the nation’s newsrooms. “He’s a very private man; and that’s a liability.” “How can you get me to vote for him, if I don’t like him?” “He needs to humanize himself.” And, “Can he [even] be humanized?” demanded one CNN ghoul by the name of Gloria Borger on the eve of Halloween. Mitt Romney was inhuman: That, very plainly, was the premise of this harridan’s rhetorical question.
“Ann Romney’s job, and she’s been pushing for this in the campaign, is to kind of humanize him,” noodled the banal Ms. Borger over and over again, for the campaign’s duration.
This was the menstrually inspired miasma that emanated from TV studios countrywide.
Thus did Mitt Romney come to embody elements in Aristotle’s definition of a tragic figure:
* The “tragic hero is of noble birth and displays a nobility of spirit.” (Check)
* The character must be a person of stature. (Check)
* The protagonist is pitted against forces beyond their control. (Check)
* The character must be neither totally good nor totally evil.
* An error of judgment or a weakness in character causes the misfortune. (Check)
* The character must be responsible for tragic events. (Check: Romney’s failures ushered in four more years of epochal evil.)
* His action involves a change in fortune from happiness to misery. (Check)
* Subject is serious. (Check)
* He struggles courageously until his fall. (Check)
* Though defeated, he gains a measure of increased wisdom.
Mr. Romney’s pathos-filled election concession speech crystallized these tragic elements.
We “left everything on the field,” he said. “We have given our all to this campaign.”
Indeed, the prototypical Greek tragic figure “struggles courageously until his fall.” Alas, Aristotle too is but a memento mori figure—someone to remind us of the White Man’s ostensibly wicked legacy.
Just ask the Delphic Ms. Walters.
- Image courtesy GettyImages.