The most fascinating aspect of the 2012 presidential campaign has become Mitt Romney’s incredible shrinking campaign-relevant biography. Seriously, think about it: his entire strategy is to keep the focus on unhappiness with the performance of the economy under Barack Obama’s stewardship, and then glide to victory after easily crossing the invisible threshold of acceptability that challengers to struggling incumbents supposedly need to navigate.
Yet the number of items from his resume that he is willing and able to talk about in order to cross that threshold is close to the vanishing point. His governorship of Massachusetts? No way; it’s loaded with base-angering heresy and flip-flops. His Bain Capital tenure? Not any more, particularly now that he can’t even establish when he left that company. His “success” as measured by his fabulous wealth? Not so long as he won’t release his taxes. His clear, lifelong identification with a coherent ideology? Not applicable! His party’s agenda, as presented most comprehensively in the Ryan Budget? Don’t wanna go there! His values as expressed in his strong personal faith? You gotta be kidding!
What was left until this week as the one untarnished moment of Mitt Romney’s adult life was, of course, his triumphant stewardship of the 2002 Olympic Games. And now, having been talked by his staff into coordinating his obligatory pre-election international trip with the opening of the 2012 Games in London, that decision is looking hourly like less and less of a good idea. And we haven’t even gotten to the dressage competition.