Peggy Noonan, the Annie Hall of the chin-strokerati (see: any of her Meet the Press appearances), has outdone herself – or is that, undone herself? – in this week’s Wall Street Journal column, headlined “America Meets Mr. Romney.”
In it, Noonan gives Romney some free advice, starting with this:
If you want to lead America, you have to speak to the fix we’re in, and that means addressing spending. But economic probity has a friend called economic growth, and that is what people care so much about—jobs, opportunity, the competitive advantage conferred by good policies. Are we a vital nation able to grow, to take on our true size again?
Emphasis is everything. Emphasize dynamism.
Mr. Romney shouldn’t just repeat what he thinks but tell people why he thinks it, what life has taught him that formed his views.
Noonan says, for starters, “he shouldn’t shy away from religion. Why should he? This is America.”
Which is exactly why he should shy away from Mormonism.
Not to get technical about it.
Beyond that, Noonan writes:
He must use humor, for three reasons. One is that wit breaks through and sharpens all points. Another is that it is natural to him . . .
As for his vaunted sense of humor, here’s what Romney said to CBS’s Scott Pelley (via Politico’s Playbook):
PELLEY: “Why did you say that?”
ROMNEY: “We’re in Michigan – Ann and I both born in Detroit. And, of course, a little humor always goes a long way. So, it was great to be home – to be in a place where Ann and I had grown up, and the crowd loved it and got a good laugh.”
PELLEY: “But this was a swipe at the president, and I wonder why you took it.”
ROMNEY: “No, no – not a swipe. I’ve said throughout the campaign, and before: There’s no question about where he was born. He was born in the U.S. This was fun about us, and coming home. And humor – you know, we gotta have a little humor in a campaign, as well.”
PELLEY: “You threw a little red meat at the conservative wing of the party, there.”
ROMNEY: “No, this was all about being home in Michigan, the place we were born and raised.”
PELLEY: “But once and for all, for the record, you believe that Barack Obama is the legitimate president of the United States.”
ROMNEY, with strained smile: “I’ve said that probably 30 times by now … 31 certainly won’t hurt.”
But that birth certificate comment just might.