The Tragedy Is That Even Mitt Romney Doesn’t Know What He Believes

Mitt Romney waves to the crowd before delivering remarks on the economy
Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

When the only apparent consistency in your presidential campaign is the constant, well-documented misrepresentation of facts, you’ve got a problem.

Mitt Romney is shrinking. Over the course of this campaign, he has grown smaller.

He and his advisers should have realized by now that you cannot win the presidency either by ducking all substantive questions or by merely flinging daily petty insults based on words taken out of context.

The latest silliness from Romney World is the effort to diminish President Obama by claiming that when he characterized the upheavals and disruptions in the Arab world as “bumps in the road,” the president was minimizing the horror of Ambassador Christopher Stevens’ murder in Benghazi, Libya. The president was doing no such thing. He was delicately observing that no revolution or dramatic political change runs in a straight line. There are gains and setbacks but, one hopes, forward progress in the long run toward peaceful democracies. President Obama’s speech Tuesday at the United Nations eloquently addressed that very topic. He spoke to high-minded principles and the delicacy of diplomacy all at once.

Romney, on the other hand, has continued to respond with baseless critiques that would be feeble and misleading even in a high-school debate.

The reason the Romney campaign is stumbling so seriously is that Romney himself still can’t figure out what he believes. Even if he knew, he wouldn’t be able to summon the courage to say it out loud. Does Romney really believe that President Obama thinks Ambassador Stevens’ death was just a “bump in the road”?

Romney’s spinelessness and obfuscation also bespeak a lack of respect for the voting public. He feels he can talk down to us, woo us without providing any answers, and only share his actual thoughts with those who pay him $50,000 for dinner.

There is a lesson in all this: Democracy works. The public senses the lack of core in Romney, it senses the lack of respect, it senses the lack of strength, and it senses the lack of character. Mitt Romney is the candidate who isn’t there.