Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman

DETROIT — Who would have thought it could come to this? Unless steps are taken, the city of Detroit’s financial crisis is so bad it could default and the state is on the verge of taking the city over.

Unless Mayor Dave Bing gets concessions from labor unions, makes draconian budget cuts and other pieces quickly fall into place, the state could soon appoint an emergency manager who could slice city services, sell key assets and boot out the mayor and City Council. Whoever would have thought the fabled home to America’s big three automakers could possibly ever lose local control to the state?

Nate Beeler / Washington Examiner (click to view more cartoons by Beeler)

All of this seems to parallel the crisis now facing one of this city’s most famous natives, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican Presidential wannabe Republican voters love to spurn.

Despite seemingly running fulltime for president for the past five years while insisting he isn’t a professional politician, his generally solid debate performances, prominent Republican establishment types endorsing him, Republican political maven Karl Rove running interference by dissing other front runners, and Romney’s staff having spent an unprecedented $100,000 on new computers when he left office in Massachusetts in 2007 to obliterate records about his moderate-Republican term as Governor, Romney looks like he and the Republican establishment are heading for political default. And GOP voters may step in to do it their way.

Whoever would have thought the once-fabled Republican establishment that historically helped beat back threatening insurgents such as conservative Pat Buchannan to ensure that the next “in line” got to be nominee would be on the verge of losing control to Tea Party supporters, evangelicals and talk show fans?

Only once in nearly 60 years has the Republican establishment been so utterly given the back of the hand — and that was when the old establishment was being supplanted by a new one. Conservative Barry Goldwater was nominated in 1964 despite the resistance of the now largely-extinct moderate “County Club Republicans” establishment. But 1964 conservatives didn’t distrust their fellow Republican foes. They knew where they stood and their foes didn’t flinch. Today’s conservatives simply do not trust or like Romney, the onetime moderate and reincarnated conservative who has produced enough flip flops to supply Wal-Mart stores worldwide.

Some suggest Romney’s underlying problem with GOPers is his Mormonism, but as Washington commentator Taylor Marsh has noted: “It’s not Mormonism, it’s Mitt.”

Romney has a sincerity and authenticity deficit — and no matter how nice his hair is blow-dried, how slick his TV ads are, how he does in debates, he cannot remove it. He has also seriously damaged his Mr. Pro image by fleeing the mainstream media and being testy and shockingly inept during a recent Fox News interview.

Romney is the Velcro candidate. If conservatives don’t trust him, neither do moderates who liked the old Romney incarnation of the destroyed state records. On my nationwide tour I’ve met many East Coast Republican moderates or non-Tea Party conservatives who see his position changes as evidence of a major character defect. Tricky Dick, meet Mushy Mitt.

Pundit and poll analyst Nate Silver finds evidence of this when he crunches the numbers, concluding Romney is “not all that well-liked by moderates in the Republican party, a group with whom he should be racking up a big advantage given the conservative slant of most of his opponents.”

British blogger Dalitso Njolinjo writes: “Romney is me in secondary school. He’s trying to get all of the students at the GOP school to like him and is slowly finding out that the majority of them hate his guts.”

There is the old line that once you fake sincerity you have it made.

Mitt Romney’s problem is that he doesn’t seem sincere, can’t fake sincerity — and can’t even fake faking sincerity. At least President Barack Obama has learned how to do that.


Copyright 2011 Joe Gandelman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached at [email protected] and can be booked to speak at your event at