- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2012

It is the ultimate political irony: Mitt Romney has been out and about in public after his defeat in the presidential election, doing all the normal stuff that appeals to voters. Mr. Romney filled his own car with gas, wore jeans and a plaid shirt, and went with his wife, Ann, to see “Breaking Dawn Part 2,” the big finale of the “Twilight” vampire movie series. He went to Disneyland, drank chocolate milk, had pizza and chatted casually with nearby customers. He grinned. His hair was tousled.

Alas, that is exactly what voters needed to see on the campaign trail to counter all those claims from the liberal media that Mr. Romney was a chilly elitist. Behold, it’s Normal Guy Romney, a reality that the former candidate’s strategists failed to unleash over the many grueling months preceding November. No one “let Romney be Romney,” apparently.

“President Obama was clearly vulnerable and Mitt Romney clearly positioned to defeat him. So what went wrong? Let me add my analysis. Three words: message. Messenger. Messaging,” says Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell.

“The messenger was flawed, unwilling to take risks, unprepared for the Obama political wrecking machine, left dazed and confused election night. If inept messaging could be deemed a felony, this campaign was a crime against humanity. I’ve never seen worse commercials more badly placed on the wrong media than this,” Mr. Bozell adds, ruing the fact that Mr. Romney neglected to embrace the known and proven qualities of one Ronald Reagan.

But about that irony. Mr. Romney never got to embrace Mr. Romney either, who turns out to be a likable looking guy and someone who could identify with basic American experiences: going to the movies, having a pizza, chatting with neighbors. And interesting. When images surfaced in social media and beyond of Normal Guy Romney, the gleeful press mocked them, a sure sign that they’re collectively uneasy, and possibly threatened. The takeaway for next time: Less is more. Let the candidate be the candidate.

CLIFF CULTURE

“I’m confident the fiscal cliff will get resolved before I’m able to comprehend an article about the fiscal cliff.”

— Motto from an new electronic greeting card, courtesy of www.someecards.com.

HUNTSMAN EMERGES

Onetime Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr., who announced his candidacy in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, will resurface for some political posturing on Tuesday. Indeed, Mr. Huntsman joins former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle for a fancy conference call with the press, organized by No Labels, an activist group seeking bipartisan cooperation, among other things.

“In order to solve our country’s big problems, we need real leadership in Washington to forge across-the-aisle solutions,” says Mark McKinnon, the group’s president, who adds that the pair will expound on “leadership.”

And oddly enough, Mr. Huntsman is now getting kudos from an unlikely source, 11 months after he suspended his White House bid. He could have been a, uh, contender. Who knew?

“We were honest about our concerns about Huntsman. I think Huntsman would have been a tough general election campaign,” Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters during a recent forum organized by Politico.

THE ILLS OF HEALTH CARE

Should we watch for symptoms? A gaggle of economy experts met at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business this week and parsed out the new health-care law in all its glory, and this is what they conclude.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “is so complex and so technical it’s mind numbing. But it’s so significant. It will have a dramatic impact on different segments of health care” says Robert J. Hugin, chairman of Celgene Corp., a multinational biopharmaceutical company. Mr. Hugin says that financing the new coverage will mean health-care costs will jump from 16 percent of the gross domestic product to 25 percent by 2025.

Richard Evans, general manager of Sector & Sovereign LLC, a research and investment adviser, noted that the new health-care law will require a subsidy for about 65 percent of American households to buy health insurance on exchanges. And what’s coming? There won’t be enough physicians for the influx of new patients, and hospitals and health plans will likely merge to save money.

“We’ll bring in physicians from outside the U.S., and we’ll rely more on nurse practitioners,” he predicts.

A CLOSE SHAVE

Beyond the drone of talking heads, ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” will soon showcase bald, talking heads.

“Politics can be hairy. I had a bet with my political counterpart, Sean Spicer, communications director for the Republican National Committee. We each agreed to let the other shave our head on national television if our candidate lost the presidential election,” says Brad Woodhouse, communications director for the Democratic National Committee “I was excited that I’d be shaving Sean’s head instead of him shaving mine.”

That was until Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Spicer heard of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation (www.stbaldricks.org), a charity that has raised $101 million to fund research grants for childhood cancer through public events where many good-hearted volunteers shave their heads. The pair lose their hair on “This Week,” and with good cheer.

“We’re having our heads shaved to stand in solidarity with kids fighting cancer, but more importantly, to raise money to find cures,” Mr. Spicer says.

The big shave day is Sunday, with ABC political analyst Jon Karl as barber.

POLL DU JOUR

• 67 percent of Americans are looking forward to the Christmas and holiday season.

• 57 percent have not begun shopping yet; 17 percent are waiting for sales, 6 percent “hate” shopping.

• 52 percent have a gift budget, 36 percent are buying less this year, 15 percent are still paying off last year’s bills.

• 34 percent will shop online during Black Friday and over the weekend, 32 percent will shop in stores.

• 15 percent still have an unused gift card from 2011.

Of those with unused gift cards, 29 percent say they had no time to use it, 24 percent could find nothing they wanted to buy, 23 percent forgot they had the card.

Source: A Consumer Reports poll of 1,557 U.S. adults conducted Nov. 1-15 and released Wednesday.

Send one-liners, double entendres to jharper@washingtontimes.com.