It’s a couple of days since the Great Etch-A-Sketch Debate of 2012, in which Mitt Romney briskly trundled his way onto the middle ground like a panzer division crossing the steppes.
By chance I happened across Romney’s official portrait from his time as Massachusetts governor. I’ve tweaked it a bit here as you can see. But Vanity Fair has the original, along with a chatty run through its political significance. As they point out, on the desk beside him is a bound copy of his healthcare reform. It is, as Politico/Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith puts it, “rather strong evidence that Romney considered the law his crowning policy achievement”. In many ways the portrait’s not so different from this painting of Samuel Adams (the Founding Father and a predecessor of Romney’s in the Massachusetts governor’s mansion) proudly pointing at a copy of the state’s constitution.
This is the achievement that Romney has spent the last five years running away from, in a bid to convince his party base that he was “severely conservative” when last trusted with public office. And all of a sudden, this was the achievement he showily embraced in his pitch to clueless swing voters on Wednesday night. In case you were in any doubt, whatever the issue, whatever your view, Mitt Romney wants you to know he agrees with you, and he’s going to look you in the eye and tell you so, with the slickness of a consultant and the eager sincerity of a Mormon missionary.
Looking at the portrait up close (here’s a blowup) the wall behind him caught my eye. There’s a painting-in-a-painting there.
Vanity Fair reckons it’s a Winslow Homer.
Actually – and perfectly for Romney – it’s a Lie.