There is an old chestnut in politics: An election will be won by the candidate with whom the voters would most like to go to a BBQ. Reagan over Carter. Papa Bush over Dukakis. Clinton over Papa Bush. Bush fils over Gore. The idea is that a successful candidate needs to come across as comfortable in his or her own skin, and someone with a common touch, someone who can, in Clinton’s famous phrase, “feel your pain.”
Mitt Romney has a problem with the BBQ test. He is so highly scripted and, in those few instances when he speaks extemporaneously, he says things your neighbor wouldn’t. For example, “corporations are people” and “want to bet $10,000?” Yesterday, in an attempt to establish something resembling empathy, he asserted that “I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” Of course, as the son of a multi-millionaire, even if Mr. Romney had been fired, the consequences from such an event would be different from what they would be for you or me. If he lost his job, that did not mean he was going to lose his health insurance or his house.