The Romney campaign doesn’t pretend the sour attitude toward its candidate doesn’t exist. But chief counselor Ben Ginsberg insists— echoing one of the campaign’s main themes — the attitude stems largely from the fact that Romney is “the outsider candidate. He’s not from Washington and he’s going to change Washington. He’s not part of their club.” ~Ana Marie Cox
But that doesn’t really explain why so many people outside of Washington also dislike him. Still, there is something to this, in that Romney isn’t exactly “part of their club,” but he acts like someone desperately craving an invitation and likes to refer to all of his newfound friends who have been in “the club” for years. His sycophancy has won some supporters, but at the same time it has embarrassed many would-be supporters and alienated others.
It is also quite funny to see the campaign push the “outsider” theme, when virtually every Romney ad carries some positive blurb about him or a criticism of McCain from a conservative magazine or think tank located in the Beltway or in New York. No other candidate has gone so far out of his way to ingratiate himself with establishment institutions as Romney has done. What he and his campaign seem to be missing is that all the ingratiating and all of the things he has had to do in the process to win new friends in “the club” are off-putting not just to other “members” but to many others as well. As I have suggested elsewhere, Romney is running as the “change” candidate embraced by significant parts of the establishment while McCain has found himself running a status quo insurgency. The former embraces and is supported by the administration’s friends, while the latter promises the perpetuation of virtually everything the administration has done. The establishment prefers Romney because he appears to need them and they believe he will be dependent on them, but more importantly because, once they let him into the “club” or on the “team,” they think he will be reliable and predictable. That he has completely altered his views on almost every policy question to gain this trust doesn’t seem to worry them.