Behind that forced smile is someone who has utter disdain for those he sees as lesser than him, such as your average voter or your average wage earner. That is how I see Mitt Romney. And that may not even be true. But that is my perception.
He reminds me of a lot of bosses or people in authority I have dealt with over the years.
Have you ever had a boss who judged by the expression on his (or her) face is as friendly to you as can be, but you can tell just behind that smile is a volcano waiting to erupt should he not like something you might say or do? That so very transparent forced friendliness is more intimidating than an automatic snarl from the git go, I think. With the snarl you gird yourself and deal with it — it allows you to get your defenses up. But with the transparently insincere smiley type you find yourself passively agreeing or acquiescing to everything in order to prevent the sudden lashing out at you, or the sudden switch from warm and fuzzy to ice cold.
During some of the debates I have seen Romney go through that change and become quite testy.
And a video circulating on the web demonstrates his unease at dealing with people. He made the mistake of hunting up a Vietnam veteran to talk to up in New Hampshire, probably thinking he was on solid ground and probably thinking how nice it is that you little people fight for me. But the veteran unexpectedly turned the tables on him and quizzed Romney on his stance on gay marriage. In the ensuing dialogue Romney said he was against the New Hampshire law or any other law that would support it. But as it turns out, the veteran said he is gay and has another man for a husband.
Romney did not explode, but he looked terribly uncomfortable and his handler whisked him away. Okay, maybe not a good example, because Romney did not blow up and he stood his ground on his position right there, using that forced smile. And the veteran even acknowledged Romney did answer his question in a straight forward manner.
Nonetheless I detected extreme discomfort in Romney, who, by circulating among those below his wealth and status, was out of his element.
Actually all, or a lot of, important people have this characteristic to some extent. It must be tough to be important.
And it must be tough to know that people have perceptions of you that might not be true.
And I think the incident with the gay veteran demonstrates how dangerous it is for politicians to pander to the base instincts of society just to get votes — I mean most of us who are not gay probably have trouble accepting what is other than the norm and what seems to go against societal conventions, but is this really ground that politicians should tread on? Romney is not a hard-core right-wing reactionary; he is, except for his flip flops in the name of pandering, I think, a social moderate.
As hard a time as Romney is having, if he just plays it cool, he may well benefit from Newt Gingrich going off on some tangent and taking things too far.