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Mitt Romney: An Expressive Analysis

January 15, 2009
Mitt Romney, on the campaign

Mitt Romney, on the campaign

Regardless of whether you agreed with his politics or not, you’ve got to admit that that Mitt Romney fellow looked absolutely regal. Or, I guess, since we don’t have a monarchy, you could say he looked absolutely presidential.

No, really, I think some of the expressions he made throughout his campaign (and especially throughout the debates) were so complex. I mean, every time Huckabee or Thompson or Giuliani would make a low blow or zing against him, he’d just scrunch up his face in the weirdest way. I think I can find an example.

"Why'd you have to go there?"

"Why'd you have to go there?"

See, that’s live. So you know it’s legit.

It was easy to see that Romney had some complex emotions behind the clean-cut facade, so in many ways, he is like the Mormon church he is from. Sometimes, he has made calculated political moves to seem more popular (he’s governor of Massachusetts!) like the church, but in the end, his popularity endures and he doesn’t lose core values.

But I wanted to really go back to that first photograph. I’m no doctor, and I’m not trained in expression analysis, but I think that first expression is a window into the soul.

At first glance, Romney looks…wistful. Wistful for the presidency lost. Wistful for the slander against name and church. Perhaps he is hopeful…looking out at the future of a day when he will WIN!

But no, that’s not the emotion I attach to this photograph. Really…and I think everyone can identify when they really get down to it, he has this expression that people give when they have just seen something so incredibly wrong that they can’t help but be intrigued and not offended. His expression is the embodiment of “Are you kidding me?” It is too shocked to be shocked. It just looks on as the car crash unfolds in real time.

Like…kids say the darnedest things. When a kid says or does something utterly ridiculous, at some point you can’t get mad because their naivete disarms you. It reminds me of some 50s mother…like maybe Beaver’s…who looks at her son’s shenanigans but can only say, in that coy 50s television way, “Oh Beaver…” She has no time to be angry or stressed, because after all, stressed is just desserts spelled backwards.

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards

This first expression is an embodiment of the awkwardness you feel whenever…you feel awkward. It is not an embarrassment for yourself, but it is an embarrassment for someone else. When Jesus said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do,” I think he had this kind of awkward expression (oh man, I’m going to get struck dead for that one…)

OK, so maybe this is all completely insane, yet I know it is true. I know I will be hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a visage, yet it is true. And while others are persecuting me, I will be led to say in my heart: Awkward.


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  1. Bush seriously pissed me off, and I was totally ready to make the GOP pay for it. I was so voting Democrat.

    But I have to admit that Romney made it kind of hard.

    It’s not that I really agreed with his policy stances. I even agreed with a lot of the criticism of his personality that was floating around.

    But for all that, he was “our people.” I felt like I already knew him, because I knew people like him. And you’re right – they are more complex than many people give them credit for.

    Call it clan-loyalty if you want, but I think I actually would have had a hard time choosing between Romney and Obama. Not that I want to equate the experience of Mormons with that of blacks, but I would have felt like both groups were due a piece of the action.

    My mom in Utah almost sheepishly admitted that, despite her disagreement with Obama’s politics, she had – in the end – voted for him anyway. She said she thought of telling her grandkids about the election and couldn’t stand the thought of having to admit to them that she hadn’t voted for the first black man to run for the office (seriously anyway).

    I wonder if she would have felt the same if the alternative was the first Mormon.

  2. …voting for mitt romney because he’s mormon…that’s like voting for Obama because he’s black!…say it ain’t so!

    Just kidding! (Well, in as good as way as I can be kidding without being insensitive to a whole slew of people or without being ignorant about a whole slew of issues.) No, I get what you’re saying — especially about the “our people” kind of comment, and on so many levels. I mean, sometimes it seems that a lot of black people voted for Obama because he was black (never minding that blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic anyway) and people want to call that out sometimes, but I don’t think it was necessarily about that…it was more about that kind of “our people” mentality…it just so happens that we live in a country where “our people” is defined by skin color (which shouldn’t make sense) just as it is with religion (which makes sense).

    Anyway, I didn’t want to go there. Back to Romney, that kind of sentiment was actually why I was wary of Romney politically (and why I stay far far far far away from the BYUs…that’s “our people” too, but it doesn’t engender me to us.) I guess this is the heretic in me, but I liked Romney more when he was Massachusetts governor and not race-for-the-right-and-appeal-to-conservatives Romney. But still, I identified when he was belittled and bashed for his beliefs. And I can say that he would be a good representative (I think) of a first Mormon president.

    I’d certainly like to see him doing more for the Republican party than the other frontrunners I hear about…but that could just be my liberal heathenism speaking out again.

  3. Don’t get me wrong. The only reason these feelings got any play in me (and I presume, in my mom) is because both candidates were, at the end of the day, largely unobjectionable from a competence and politics standpoint. Believe me, if Romney had been completely “out there” – all this talk of “clan loyalty” would have gone straight out the window. And if Obama had actually been Jesse Jackson – probably same story.

  4. Agreed

  5. Well the mans something of cipher, he’s had so many different position on everything you can really read whatever you want into him. Maybe that’s the campaign strategy he was counting on, being all thing to all people.

  6. it could’ve worked too, if you know, it backfired and made him appeal to no one precisely because you could read anything “bad” into him as well.

  7. Romney is kinda like Orrin Hatch, lite. All fizz, no flavor – just one calorie.

    I was sad when McCain won the Republican nomination. Romney and the ensuing Mormon fallout would have been so much more entertaining than watching an old guy ogle the prima donna from Alaska.

  8. I dunno, watching the Mccain campaign implode beyond McCain’s control (see: prima donna’s introduction from Alaska and all the hilarity that brought) was pretty entertaining. Mormon fallout is old news (at least for me, since that’s what I see all the time)

  9. Guy Noir, Private Eye permalink

    When MR was married to his DW(Ann Davies)(3/21/69), the ceremony took place in MI, convenient for her Non-Mo parents. the NEXT DAY they got a plane for Ew-tah (with papa George & mommy Lenore…and got Sealed in the SLT. OTHER MOS HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR AFTER A CIVIL MARRIAGE! Thus, MR was guilding the Lilly of LDS exclusionary policies & practices, but allowing himself ‘Special’ priviledges…
    ’nuff said’?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. This is what theists LITERALLY believe — atheists are ugly « Irresistible (Dis)Grace
  2. So True. »

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