Defying his reputation as a 1950s square, the new, more casual Mitt Romney is popping up around the country as he readies a second run for president. He’s going tieless on network TV, strolling NASCAR pits in Daytona and sporting skinny Gap jeans bought for him by his wife.

His latest campaign book, just out in paperback, opens with a regular-guy scene: wealthy Mitt in a Wal-Mart checkout line, buying gifts for his grandsons and comparing the surroundings to Target, another discount store he says he’s familiar with. ~The Los Angeles Times

Romney would do so much better if he weren’t constantly changing to try to please people. As egregious as his numerous position switches have been, and as embarrassing as his pandering to foreign policy hawks over the last two years has been, Romney’s pandering was mostly limited to questions of policy and rhetorical style. He has a public image as a somewhat stiff, technocratic businessman, and that is the most genuine thing about him for the last five years.

If there is anything that would be more insufferable and hard to believe than Romney the zealous social conservative or Romney the foe of excessive government, it would have to be Romney the “regular guy.” One of the few things Romney has going for him is that he is not a “regular guy.” As ignorant or ideological as some of his positions can be, no one can deny that he is a very intelligent person. Romney and Bush are both MBAs from Harvard, but the difference is that Romney actually seems to have learned something while he was there. He has had a privileged life, he has been reasonably successful in the corporate world, and he is personally very wealthy. There is virtually nothing “regular” about him, and it is silly for him to pretend that there is. Refashioning Romney’s public image is just as likely to invite unwelcome comparisons with Al Gore as it will make voters react more favorably to him.