His own worst enemy

Last week, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney met with some Bethel Park, Pa., residents around a picnic table, supposedly to talk about the state of the economy. Instead, Romney eyed a plate of cookies.

“I’m not sure about those cookies,” he said. “They don’t look like you made them. No, no. They came from the local 7-11, bakery, or whatever.” In fact, the cookies had come from a beloved local bakery. As the baker said, “We wanted him to be welcomed with the best in the ’Burgh, and he had no idea.”

“Cookiegate,” as the local press dubbed it, isn’t the first time Romney felt compelled to insult the commoners when he deigns to appear with them. At this year’s Daytona 500, Romney approached a group of race fans wearing plastic ponchos. “I like those fancy raincoats you bought,” he said. “Really sprung for the big bucks!” Who told him being a jerk is good politics?

Romney has a clear need to flaunt his perceived superiority over those around him. He doesn’t really like NASCAR, he tells people, but “I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners.” Where does he want Peyton Manning to end up? “I’ve got a lot of good friends, the owner [of the] Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets — both owners are friends of mine,” he said, before getting to what should’ve been his answer all along: “Let’s keep him away from New England.”

That sort of arrogance may play well at tony yacht clubs, where Romney’s name-dropping might impress the swells. But everywhere else, all folks see is an insufferable bore.

The polling isn’t even close. When an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week asked respondents whom they found more “easygoing and likable,” President Obama was chosen by an overwhelming 54-18 margin. A CNN poll found that 56 percent of respondents considered Obama “likable,” while only 27 percent said the same about Romney.

Even among Republicans, Romney’s unpopularity reaches historic highs. Gallup found that the 
42 percent of Republicans who supported him in its final 2012 nomination preference poll was the lowest Gallup had measured since the advent of primaries. The previous low was George W. Bush’s 57 percent in 2000.

It’s hardly surprising conservatives don’t love him. On Monday, Romney forgot all about “freedom fries” and the last decade’s concerted conservative effort to turn France into the greatest American enemy, and waxed poetic about his Parisian vacations. “The best memories were with my wife on vacations from time to time in France. The last vacation we had there, walking around the city of Paris, and walking not just the Champs-Élysées, but also over to the Jardin of Luxembourg and around the city ... I look forward to occasional vacations again in such a beautiful place.”

That’ll make it that much harder for conservatives — who got the vapors when Obama put spicy mustard on his burger — to pretend they like their 2012 nominee.

Romney’s camp says Americans just need to get to know the real Mitt. But every time Romney interacts with voters or the press, he reinforces the fact that he’s a rich jerk — whether it’s bragging about how much he likes firing people or laughing about his dad outsourcing jobs from Michigan or saying he just doesn’t care about the poor. 

Mitt Romney just isn’t a likable guy. And that means the Romney campaign’s biggest liability is … Mitt Romney.

Moulitsas is the publisher and founder of Daily Kos (dailykos.com).