Monday, August 6, 2012

The Real Romney 1

I started The Real Romney, by Michael Kranish and Scott Helman.  I've wanted to read this book ever since I read the Book Description on Amazon (see here).  The following parts of the Book Description especially stood out to me:

"Mitt Romney has masterfully positioned himself as the front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Even though he’s become a household name, the former Massachusetts governor remains an enigma to many in America, his character and core convictions elusive, his record little known. Who is the man behind that sweep of dark hair, distinguished white sideburns, and high-wattage smile? He often seems to be two people at once: a savvy politician, and someone who will simply say anything to win. A business visionary, and a calculating dealmaker. A man comfortable in his faith and with family, and one who can have trouble connecting with average voters.

"In this definitive, unflinching biography by Boston Globe investigative reporters Michael Kranish and Scott Helman, readers will finally discover the real Romney. The book explores Romney’s personal life, his bond with his wife and how they handled her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, and his difficult years as a Mormon missionary in France, where a fatal car crash had a profound effect on his path. It also illuminates Romney’s privileged upbringing in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan; his rejection of the 1960s protest culture; and his close but complicated relationship with his father."

To me, Mitt Romney has come across as something like a used-car salesman: he's friendly, but I'm not sure that I can trust him.  Plus, he appears to spin, even when it makes him look ridiculous.  At the same time, although I do not know Mitt Romney personally, there is a part of me that likes him.  He does come across as a likeable fella, and he stuck with his wife through her medical problems, which (in my opinion) indicates a degree of depth and character on his part (or at least you'd think that depth and character would result from such an experience).  And so I wanted to read this book to learn more.  Plus, I was interested to learn about Mitt's relationship with his father, George Romney, who was a center-left Republican.

I'm enjoying the book so far.  In my latest reading, it talked a little about how Mitt grew as a candidate, as some of the sorts of things that threw him off his guard in 2008 did not throw him off his guard in 2012.  His courtship of Ann is also discussed.  Ann was a mainline Protestant whose well-to-do father did not care for religion.  Sometime after Mitt proposed to her, Mitt was about to kiss her, and she instead wanted him to tell her about what Mormons believe.  Mitt was disappointed, but he was able to recite pieces of the Mormon creed!

I talk some about the differences between Mitt and his father, George in my post here.  What I have read so far in The Real Romney overlaps with what I discuss in that post: that George Romney was a principled and fiery liberal who often did not manifest political skillfulness, whereas Mitt leans right when it suits him and is more pragmatic and (like his mother) diplomatic.  What I learned from this book about the relationship between George and Mitt was that it was close: that Mitt, even as a teenager, talked with his Dad as if he (Mitt) were an adult, asking his Dad questions about cars and other issues; that Mitt drew from his father's wisdom, such as George's statement that people should be in the private sector and (after that) should only go into public life if they believe that they can make a difference there; etc.  I was interested to learn that George was a proponent of fuel-efficient automobiles when those were not popular, that Mitt's mother was an actress who gave up her career to marry George, and that George and his wife fought like the Bickersons, yet they loved each other.

I'll stop here, for now.  I think that I'll enjoy this book!

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