Mr. Romney's failures to communicate are common among businessmen and other normal people who have the right instincts but haven't spent their lives thinking about politics. He also recently ran into trouble when he said he liked firing people, when he was really talking about the discipline of market competition.Mitt Romney is not a stupid man, but he's not a conservative thinker. Neither were either of the Bush presidents. Romney might be capable of absorbing such tutoring and be able to mouth conservative principles for the purposes of the campaign, but those aren't his instincts or, probably, the foundation for his approach to public policy. He has an understanding when it comes to economic policy, but not when such policies touch on the cultural results of such policies. Thus, he can demonstrate his understanding of such principles when it comes to economic policy as when he talked about liking to fire people when he meant the strengths that come from a competitive marketplace or the blessings of entrepreneurs willing to take risks. But he doesn't have an instinct of why government policies have been counter-productive for those very poor that Mitt Romney isn't worried about. He can't make that connection. Businessmen usually don't have to think about such unintended cultural consequences.
Still, his business now is politics, and as the Republican front-runner he has an obligation to explain how conservative principles and policies can address America's current problems. We'll be happy to translate for him in these columns, but it would be less politically painful if Mr. Romney sat down for a week-long tutorial with, say, Paul Ryan, Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush and others who can help him avoid such obvious liberal traps.
He can sit down for that recommended tutoring session, but I suspect that he'll never be an eloquent spokesmen for conservative principles.
The presidential ambitions of Mitt Romney's father collapsed with one unfortunate phrase about having been brainwashed by Johnson's aides on Vietnam. Mitt Romney is, supposedly, very aware of that history and afraid of making a similar error. It's ironic that one inept remark could sink a politician in the pre-internet days and now Mitt Romney seems to be on the road to the nomination despite making several such inept comments. It's not surprising that Romney would be caught up by his poor phrasing in answering a question. These guys are campaigning non-stop and probably getting by with minimal sleep in a different hotel room every night. They're tired. They'll make mistakes. No amount of tutoring is going to eliminate that problem. Barack Obama can make such errors every single day, but it will never have the effect one remark by a Republican will have. That's the playing field we're on.