Mitt Romney's Way With Words
Mitt Romney's evolution on various issues has made it hard for many voters to get a read on him, but this much is clear: the man sure can deliver a tongue-lashing. Judging from his recent statements on the trail, one gets the sense that, as happy as the Romney boys all now seem while stumping for their father, the Romney household was probably not a place one wanted to be when young Tagg or Matt failed to mow the lawn or write a thank you note. The former Massachusetts governor may spare the rod, but he sure doesn't spare the adjectives:
First, there was his upbraiding of Larry Craig the morning after news broke of the Idaho senator's arrest in a Minneapolis airport bathroom. While some other Republicans adopted a wait and see pose, Romney wasted no time in separating himself from the co-chair of his Idaho campaign advisory committee: "Once again, we've found people in Washington have not lived up to the level of respect and dignity that we would expect for somebody that gets elected to a position of high influence. Very disappointing. He's no longer associated with my campaign, as you can imagine... I'm sorry to see that he has fallen short," Romney said on CNBC. He added, "The truth of the matter is, the most important thing we expect from an elected official is a level of dignity and character that we can point to for our kids and our grandkids, and say, `Hey, someday I hope you grow up and you're someone like that person.' And we've seen disappointment in the White House, we've seen it in the Senate, we've seen it in Congress. And frankly, it's disgusting."
The 'd' word surfaced again a few weeks later when Romney sought to outdo his GOP rivals in condemning Moveon.org's ad attacking Gen. David Petraeus.
The ad is "entirely unacceptable...for MoveOn.org to attack him as they did is simply unacceptable and reprehensible," Romney said on MSNBC. The truth is, he added, that "Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama and John Edwards are afraid to repudiate an ad and an organization which has taken a disgusting course against a great American."
This week came the latest adjectival eruption, in response to reports that New York City was considering allowing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Ground Zero. Said Romney on Bill Bennett's "Morning in America" show: "What an audacious and shocking and outrageous request."
And at an event at a Florida retirement community yesterday, Romney again discussed the Iranian leader's visit. "Can you imagine the audacity, the shocking nerve, the chutzpah to suggest that he would visit ground zero, the handiwork of terrorists of the very kind that he supports?" Romney asked.
So, in just three incidents, with months yet to go, the campaign has deployed "disappointing," "disgusting," "unacceptable," "reprehensible," "audacious," "shocking," and "outrageous." Who knows what occasions will merit the synonyms that are surely waiting in reserve: despicable, base, heinous -- and, for the Latin buffs out there, that most debilitating put-down of all: infra dignitatem.
Washington Post editors
September 20, 2007; 3:00 PM ET
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