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Is Mitt Romney a Wimp, as NEWSWEEK Claims He Is?

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) August 4, 2012: Because Mitt Romney is a Republican, I hope he's not elected president in 2012. Nevertheless, I would urge others anti-Romney people not to follow the example of Michael Tomasky in NEWSWEEK's cover story referring to Romney as a wimp (dated August 6, 2012, pages 24-28). Romney should be defeated because he is a Republican, not because he is allegedly a wimp. Even if he's not a wimp, he should be defeated because he's a Republican. But even if he is a wimp, he should be defeated because he's a Republican.

As Tomasky himself notes (page 26), NEWSWEEK's controversial 1987 cover story referred to George H. W. Bush's supposed "wimp factor," even though he was actually a war hero. Evidently, NEWSWEEK cannot resist running sensationalistic cover stories.

Tomasky quotes Harvard's Harvey Mansfield, author of the book MANLINESS, as defining manliness as "confidence in a situation of risk" (quoted on page 27). According to his operational definition, manliness includes two key factors: (1) confidence and (2) a situation of risk.

Mitt Romney has exuded confidence in his 2008 presidential campaign.

By definition, the presidential campaign is a situation of risk because he will either win the election or lose it.

Thus according to Mansfield's operational definition, Romney appears to be manly in his presidential campaign.

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But Tomasky does not draw this conclusion. Instead, he concludes that Romney has not been taking enough risks in his presidential campaign. Indeed, the NEWSWEEK cover story includes an entire column of print devoted to five quotes from Republican sources criticizing Romney's presidential campaign this far: (1) "The Wall Street Journal," (2) William Kristol, (3) Rupert Murdoch, (4) George Will, and (5) "National Review" (page 26).

Romney has endorsed the budget proposal of Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin. But Romney's Republican critics evidently want him to make more specific economic proposals, even though President Obama thus far has not forced Romney to do this by making specific economic proposals himself.

It strikes me that these five sources are criticizing Romney for running in effect a low-definition campaign against President Obama thus far. Perhaps Romney's Republican critics really just want a more high-definition candidate.

But Tomasky is willing to take hints from Republican criticism of Romney for timidity and run with it, as we say, to make a more fully developed case that Romney lacks courage. As readers of Mansfield's book MANLINESS should know, the ancient Greek term "andreia" means both courage and manly, so Mansfield plays with this double meaning as a way to annoy feminists. In any event, Tomasky makes the case that Romney lacks courage and is therefore a wimp, so that Romney will look less attractive to Republican voters and independents.

Romney appears to be betting strongly that discontent with the economy will help him win the election in November. Indeed, thus far, the economy is not working in President Obama's favor.

Besides, after Labor Day, there will still be plenty of time for each presidential candidate to advance more specific economic proposals. But is either candidate likely to win praise for being manly and courageous for the specific economic proposals he advances?

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www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell
Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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