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Romney's Problem: He's Whoever We Want Him to Be

Candidate is an 'other-directed personality': David Brooks
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 10, 2012 11:18 AM CST
Romney's Problem: He's Whoever We Want Him to Be
Mitt Romney pauses while speaking at his Colorado caucus night rally in Denver Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

(Newser) – David Brooks has a theory about why Mitt Romney isn't winning the hearts of Republicans: He fits the classic definition of an "other-directed personality," a type of person who is "adept at pleasing others, at selling him or herself" rather than being guided by a strong set of internal principles. He's "pliable." That makes him successful as a businessman in the information age, as a manager of managers, but it's precisely the wrong time for an "other-directed" politician to be running for president, writes Brooks in the New York Times.

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"Americans are again in a state of spiritual anxiety, wondering if they are losing the hardy pioneer virtues that built the nation and defeated fascism and communism," he writes. "In a period of fragmentation, information overload, and social distrust, they want a leader who is rooted and resolute." Romney needs to show some backbone, take some unpopular positions. Rick Santorum, for example, never wavers from his core beliefs, but few would say the same of Romney. "If he can’t fix that problem, he may win the Republican nomination, but it won’t be worth much." (Read more Mitt Romney 2012 stories.)

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