Mitt Romney's Fluffer
NewsMax's Ronald Kessler takes his fealty to the Republican presidential candidate to a stunningly creepy extent.
By Terry Krepel
Lo and behold, Kessler has found it in Mitt Romney. Ever since, Kessler has been inspired by the Republican presidential candidate to take his fluffery to surprising -- if not downright creepy -- heights.
The process started by bridging Bush and Romney in a Feb. 21 column, in which he listed a number of "striking similarities between George W. Bush and Mitt Romney." In noting that "[b]oth men's lives have been touched by fatal car accidents," Kessler served up an oddly worded description of Laura Bush's crash:
In November 1963, when she was a senior in high school in Midland, Texas, Laura Bush, then 17, was driving on a dark country road with a high school friend when she missed a stop sign. Her parents' brand-new Chevrolet Impala slammed into a 1962 Corvair sedan driven by Michael D. Douglas, another high school friend, who was thrown from his car. He died at the scene.
Why not just say that Laura Bush drove the car that killed a friend, instead of weirdly detaching her from the events she was involved in? By stating she "was driving on a dark country road" when "[h]er parents' brand-new Chevrolet Impala" hit another car, nonsensically suggested that it was the car, not the driver, who was to blame for the accident.
This was followed by a lengthy, laudatory profile of Romney in the April issue of NewsMax's magazine. The article led with Romney's efforts to find the teenage daughter of a friend, who "had attended a rave party in New York City and had become high on ecstasy," declaring that Romney's actions "demonstrated leadership, loyalty, and selflessness -- attributes that Americans just might like to see in a president of the United States."
Kessler went on to assert that Romney "is Reaganesque: a man with a sunny, positive disposition." How sunny? Kessler answers:
People say that Mitt Romney lights up a room. But there are all kinds of ways to light up a room - fluorescent, neon, sunlight, strobe. Romney alternates between sparkle and a warm, steady glow. He is not in your face. He is low-key, self-assured, and self-contained.
But that sunniness is just the beginning, Kessler added:
First, he has sensational good looks. People magazine named him one of the 50 most beautiful people in America. Standing 6 feet, 2 inches tall, Romney has jet-black hair, graying naturally at the temples. Women - who will play a critical role in this coming election - have a word for him: hot.
Ruling that the man has no obvious flaws -- "With looks, charisma, money, and family all working for him, can anything hold Romney back?" -- Kessler then spun Romney's potential negatives into either positives or insignificance:
It went on: Romney "speaks with the effortless delivery of the best news anchors," he "has had a successful business career that made him a multimillionaire," he has "an eye for identifying future success." Kessler concluded by quoting Romney as saying that "there's nothing wrong with having heroes in positions of prominence," adding, "Having rescued the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Winter Olympics, Bain & Co., and his partner's daughter, Romney could well be talking about himself."
Still, the media focus on atmospherics, Romney's Mormon religion, and his change in position on abortion, rather his record of accomplishment and character. In the last analysis, character is what voters care about, Karl Rove has told me.
Kessler doesn't explain why a guy known as "Turd Blossom" for his crudely Machiavellian political ways is ay sort of authority on character.
In the other May 14 article containing a few brief items, Kessler extended his fluff work to the rest of Romney's family, pointing out that Romney's kids have "Gap-ad good looks." and getting in a little dig at the competition: "In contrast to Rudy Giuliani's two children, who are estranged from him, all five of Mitt Romney's sons are campaigning for him."
The coup de gras of Kessler's Romney obsequiousness, though, came in a May 23 profile of Romney's wife, Ann, in which he gets just plain creepy:
Ann is warm and very natural. She has the look of an outdoors woman bred to be an equestrian, which she is good carriage, rosy complexion, square jaw, and blond mane.
Even NewsMax was apparently repulsed by that at one point. Sometime after its posting, according to the Carpetbagger Report, that passage was edited to something not quite as, uh, creepy (without telling its readers, though, in line with long-standing NewsMax practice). At last check, though, the article was in its full sycophantic glory. (A copy of the original article is here, in case NewsMax decides to change it permanently.)
NewsMax went on to promote Kessler's article in a May 27 "Insider Report": "In an item headlined 'Talk about a must-read,' Jonathan Martin of politico.com writes: "I don't even know where to begin. This Ronald Kessler story about the Romneys has so much to offer. Go read the whole thing now.' " But a closer look at Martin's Politico post shows that Kessler's article is a "must-read" for different reasons than NewsMax claimed:
First off, Kessler is clearly infatuated with Ann Romney. I'm not even sure what a "good carriage" is, but he says she has that to go with a "rosy complexion, square jaw, and blond mane." Like I said, he's quite taken.
In other words, Martin is not only taken by Kessler's creepy sycophancy of Ann Romney, he's pointing out that Kessler essentially caught Romney in a flip-flop on abortion that Kessler not only won't admit is one, he has expended much effort explaining it away.
(NewsMax ignored completely a post by another Politico blogger, Ben Smith, who wrote, "I think I’ve never seen writing, in a publication apparently written by and for grown-ups, like" Kessler's fluffery about Ann Romney.)
Concurrent with Kessler's fluffing of Romney, meanwhile, is his denigrating of Romney's opponents. ConWebWatch has noted Kessler's regular attacks on John McCain; he has since promoted conservative criticism of McCain (as well as fellow Romney rival Rudy Giuliani) for not attending the annual conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), hyped alleged McCain fundraising shortfalls and highlighted claims by one conservative that McCain is "dying a slow political death."
Kessler also made a pre-emptive strike on Fred Thompson's possible candidacy in an April 26 article, claiming that his entry into the race "will likely be as disorganized an operation as Bill Clinton's White House was." On May 30, the day that Thompson announced that he was officially exploring a presidential campaign, Kessler hit back with an article not only calling him lazy but, even worse, a supporter of the McCain-Feingold campaign reform bill, which Kessler claimed conservatives hate "almost as much as pro-choice measures."
In that article, Kessler also threw in yet another dose of Romney-flufffing:
And finally: "As for the claim that Romney is too perfect, that's another misconception: Romney doesn't have a dog."
Wow. Just ... wow.