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Mitt Romney, as Viewed by the New York Times

5:00 PM, Oct 20, 2012 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
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One can’t help being in awe of the New York Times. The ingenuity it displays in running down Mitt Romney, if applied to a more useful project, would be a national treasure.

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Consider Alessandra Stanley’s report (comment?) on Candy Crowley’s performance as debate moderator, and Romney’s reaction. “Mr. Obama kept his eyes on his Republican opponent, whereas Mr. Romney’s gaze kept straying over to the moderator, Candy Crowley of CNN, peevishly calling on her to give him more time…” 

 Ms. Stanley is such a keen observer that she can discern the difference between the gazes of the disciplined, steely-eyed president and a weak opponent who could not control his gaze and prevent it from straying (“roam about without fixed direction or purpose”)—not to the floor, or the ceiling, but to the moderator. Why looking at the moderator, a key figure on whom a candidate can reasonably be expected to gaze, represents “straying” is unexplained.

Consider, too, Romney’s alleged peevishness. The peevish challenger (“easily irritated, especially by unimportant things”) was annoyed by no small thing—the decision of the impartial moderator to allow the president ten percent more of the valuable debate time than she allowed Romney. Picture what the New York Times would have said were the reverse the case.

There’s more. It seems that Romney “reverted to type as a man as passionate about rules and procedure as policy. He even asked her to intercede by calling her name three times, ‘Candy, Candy, Candy,’ a recall of a much-mocked moment in a Republican primary debate when he repeatedly asked Anderson Cooper of CNN to referee a dispute.” There you have it. Romney’s devotion to fair procedure is to be mocked, proof that he really has no passion for what matters most, “policy,” because he cares as much about the small matter of procedure, something that surely is not high on the list of concerns of a president who issues waivers from work requirements, allows tens of thousands of illegal aliens to remain in the country, advises companies not to obey the law requiring warning of potential lay-offs.

Worst of all, Mitt Romney obviously doesn’t have what it takes to play in the big leagues because he is too easily rattled. When “Ms. Crowley backed Mr. Obama’s version  of events [in Benghazi]… Mr. Romney stammered a bit … blinked … and never quite got back on a steady confident foot.” The moderator violates the rules and double-crosses Romney, not to mention the audience that relied on her for impartiality and the committee that picked her for the job of impartial moderator; the president is so pleased at her rule-breaking intervention that he asks her to repeat what she said more loudly; and Michelle Obama breaks the rules against audience participation by leading the audience in applause. And Romney “blinks.” He could justifiably have wept.

But the rival candidates are equal in one regard. “Both men are tall, slim and elegant.” But there is a difference: “Mr. Romney inherited an aristocratic air; Mr. Obama is naturally regal.” Oh.

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