Monthly Archives: January 2012

Romney and Gingrich Share an “Inner Life” Problem

Both liberal and conservative political writers have been commenting on the negative public reactions to Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, despite their being the leading Republican contenders for their party’s nomination. For example, conservative George Will portrays Romney as the person we don’t trust – writing of the “… impression many Republicans seem to have of his slipperiness…(and) the suspicion that there is something synthetic about him.” Liberal Eugene Robinson describes Gingrich as the person we don’t like, citing both Fox and CNN polls showing that Gingrich has about a 57% disapproval rating.

But there’s something both Gingrich and Romney share — though in opposite ways — that contributes to these negative perceptions: It’s a problem within the inner life of each, as it drives their outer life personas and behavior.

In essence, Mitt Romney is perceived by many as stiff and too scripted; unable to connect with ordinary people or be spontaneous in his interactions with them, even when trying to be humorous. Writing in the National ReviewJonah Goldberg refers to Romney’s “… 2 percent milk personality… his authentic inauthenticity problem isn’t going away. And it’s sapping enthusiasm from the rank and file.” I don’t think Romney’s patrician background can account for this. The Kennedys, for example, generated a strong sense of connection with the lives of ordinary people, despite their wealth.

On the other hand, Newt Gingrich has, in fact, aroused a strong connection with Republican voters, who seem to feel a shared anger and resentment about current problems. And yet, he’s simultaneously perceived as arrogant, grandiose and unstable — both by the very voters who support him as well as by conservatives. For example, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan describes him as “… a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, ‘Watch this!’” and Charles Krauthammer writes that“Gingrich has a self-regard so immense that it rivals Obama’s — but, unlike Obama’s, is untamed by self-discipline.”

So, what’s their inner life problem? To explain, your inner life is Continue reading

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Why the Republicans’ View of “Success” Is a Path to Self-Destruction

After watching the recent Republican debates, last week’s New Hampshire primary and the campaigning since then, I’m convinced that the GOP is on a path to self-destruction. And that’s regrettable. It deprives the country of a serious debate over different views about the roles of government, business, labor and citizens in general in dealing with the problems we face. Of course, that debate would assume that there’s an agreed-upon set of realities about the current world.

Unfortunately, that’s a tall order. It’s more likely that Mitt Romney, if he’s the candidate, and his party will present a vision that’s largely disconnected from — even denies — facts and realities about today’s world. Therefore, they’re likely to offer solutions to problems that derive from their alternate reality.

One way to explain this oddity is from a political psychology perspective. That is, let’s examine the emotional attitudes and beliefs that may underlie the Republican Party’s view of reality and the solutions they offer to problems as they define them. For example, the party appears wedded to a singular view of what “success” in life is, and should be. And yet, that vision is increasingly disconnected from emerging new realities. Those point to the need for a broader, more inclusive view of success in today’s world, and how to achieve it.

The New Normal

You’ve probably noticed the following: Continue reading

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