Mitt Romney, American Dad

Interview

Friday, January 13, 2012

As Mitt Romney wraps up his audition to be the Republican nominee, he looks increasingly in control of everything but his image. The problem, according to New York film critic David Edelstein, is that Romney fits the role of President too well. “If you were a casting director and you submitted Mitt Romney, you would be laughed out of the office,” he tells Kurt Andersen. “They would all say he’s ‘too on the nose.’ There’s still part of us that looks at Mitt Romney and says ‘he’s not real.’”

That struggle for authenticity has plagued Romney throughout the race. Pundits like Peggy Noonan compare him to American dads from the 1950s like Ward Cleaver, who “terrorized and comforted a generation of children from non-functioning families.” Others deride Romney as a robotic candidate programmed by his handlers. Edelstein says most classic Hollywood political movies actually start with that very premise. After a meteoric rise, the movie climaxes with a big speech in which the candidate rejects his handlers, "throws away the prepared text, and speaks from the heart for the first time.” So far, Edelstein says, Romney is staying on script. 

If Romney does match up against Obama, Edelstein thinks it would make a great movie, but not an election drama. “You really look at Romney and Obama together and you’d want to say, ‘Wait a minute, shouldn’t they be two detectives? Shouldn’t they go out and solve murders together? Why are they debating each other?’ There’s just something about them that’s classically Hollywood.”

>> What movie or TV character do you think Mitt Romney resembles? Tell us in a comment below.

    Music Playlist
  • Bad Boys
    Artist: Inner Circle
    Album: One Way
    Label: Ras
    Purchase: Amazon

Guests:

David Edelstein

Produced by:

Derek John

Comments [30]

Tom in Omaha from Nebraska

Romney and Perry both immediately reminded me of JR Bob Dobbs, the iconic SubGenius frontman and greatest salesman of all time. I'd vote for Bob in a second, those GOP dopplegangers with no pipes, never. Praise Bob!

Jan. 19 2012 04:31 PM
Neal Campbell from Twitter

Eddie Haskell

Jan. 17 2012 09:14 PM
George from Brooklyn

How about Guy Smiley?

Jan. 16 2012 10:32 PM
Peter

Not Ward Cleaver but same show: Eddie Haskell. Dead ringer.
-P.

Jan. 16 2012 10:35 AM
Jeff Friedman from Woodbridge NJ

It is crucial that radio programs do not propagate a skewed perspective of the truth. For example, Kurt Anderson finished up this segment by saying something like, "One Harvard elite against another", suggesting that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are somehow equally elite. Let's get some facts straight. Obama was the son of a single mother and then was raised by his grandparents. Mitt Romney was raised by a governor in a wealthy household where he wasn't challenged by financial realities nearly in any way the same as Obama. Obama went to Occidental College, a perfectly fine liberal arts college on the West coast, and Romney went to Harvard. Obama made the leap to Columbia and then to Harvard for law school. This is not in any way equal as Anderson suggests. That Obama managed to shift his educational environment isn't a given, but an earned, merit-based situation. Was Romney a legacy Harvard undergrad? I don't know. Anyone? Now, what did Romney do after college? Go into the corporate world. What did Obama do? He become a community organizer in a tough part of Chicago, where he lived in simple apartment, not much better than what he lived in NYC during Columbia btw., and helped people over and over again, coming up against the difficult obstacles of community organizing. Hardly the same equality sign that Anderson suggests: One Harvard elite to another. Hardly. Let's get the facts straight and not propagate lies.

Jan. 15 2012 07:42 PM
mikey from the south

a definate cross between herman munster & a ken doll..

Jan. 15 2012 06:20 PM
LKR

This one's a bit obscure, but give it a try. Romney reminds me of no one so much as Captain "Aarfy" Aardvark in "Catch 22." Elitist, preppy, hesitant of speech, and absolutely convinced of his own rectitude even after committing a horrific crime.

Jan. 15 2012 12:55 PM
Arthur from New Jersey

What this segment overlooked is that Mitt Romney says so much that is untrue. And a lot that comes out of his mouth is plain nonsense, at others expense.
I realize this is meant to be a clever segment, but the characters you sight were earnest and spoke what they believed to be the truth.
Romney either has a tin ear for reality, a major personality flaw, or is a much more cynical character than most imagine him to be.
There is a reason, other than his being the frontrunner among Republican candidates that he is so universally disliked by the others running.
What he may look like to some, in reality he is far from being.
I think you completely overlooked who this guy really is to create this segment.

Jan. 15 2012 11:45 AM
Monika

Mitt Romney reminds me of the character 'Metro Man' voiced by Brad Pitt in the movie, Megamind...

Jan. 15 2012 11:28 AM
BB

Chuck Connors in The Rifleman

Jan. 15 2012 11:17 AM
Sally Watts

Max Headroom.

Jan. 15 2012 07:46 AM
JJ

He is Adam West as Bruce Wayne in Batman Series.

Jan. 15 2012 04:36 AM
SD

Herman Munster

Jan. 14 2012 08:01 PM
Margaret from NJ

Woody from "Toy Story."

Jan. 14 2012 04:40 PM
Neil from Manhattan

Definitely Woody from Toy Story.

Jan. 14 2012 04:22 PM
Linda from Connecticut

Mitt Romney reminds me of a Ken Doll. So sad that a slick image is what helps elect folks in today's world.

Jan. 14 2012 04:21 PM
RM in DC from WAMU

What movie actor have you overlooked in a role that reminds one of Mitt Romney?

You've overlooked Christopher Reeves in Remains of a Day in the role of the careful graceful Congressman meeting the sclerotic European leaders. That image is one of my favorite representations of an American on the world stage.

I really miss good looking well mannered subtle well spoken leading men. George Clooney is almost the only one out there who ever plays a man with rudimentary good manners. US men desperately need uncynical heroic leaders as role models in movies. Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart we miss you!

I like Mitt Romney for his unfailing courtesy and refined manner of speech. I am so so sick of the bombast of Newt, the studied and proud ignorance of Rick and Rick, the mad scientist persona of Ron. It is really too bad that Jon Huntsman didn't get a second look by the Republicans because he seems to have the necessary subtlety of mind to do something constructive as president. BTW, I'm not voting for Mitt. I think he has a simplistic dated view of America's position and options in the world. However, he'll give Obama a real run for the money.

Jan. 14 2012 02:35 PM
Elle from DC

Archie Comics' Reggie.

I laughed out loud with the Romney-style gaffe of saying how great Ward Cleaver is after playing the "woman belongs in the home" bit. Classic!

Jan. 14 2012 02:29 PM
MattECMD from ellicott city, md

The Paulie character of the Sopranos, seems to aspire to the image or gravitas of the iconic look. Paulie = Romney ?

Jan. 14 2012 02:22 PM
Marvel

Mitt ROM(nee): Spaceknight
See Wikipedia and Youtube

Jan. 14 2012 12:00 PM
Shawn from NJ

George Clooney. He's handsome and dashing, but also a complete goof when he needs to be - any of the Cohen Brothers films show that. Right now there is a team of professionals wiping Romney's chin so we don't really see him. Look at what happened to W after he won his second election - his sloppiness suddenly elevated.

Jan. 14 2012 07:21 AM
Rich from Philadelphia

When Mr. Edelstein said Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should be a crime-fighting team, I instantly thought of I-Spy with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. They should reprise that show starring Obama and Romney, only they would chase Iranians instead of Russians. That would be cool.

Jan. 14 2012 07:20 AM
Jakub

Gordon Gecko when he makes the speech to the shareholders of a failing company with 30 vice presidents.

Jan. 13 2012 12:05 PM
mg from brooklyn

No question he is Duck Phillips from Mad Men! A teetotaling Westerner who doesn't quite fit in with East Coast culture -- compare to President Obama as Don Draper.

Jan. 13 2012 11:57 AM
Ricepat from South orange

Roomney is an empty suit. He is born of privilege and a true elitist. PRES obama should never be compared to him. He is a man of humble beginnings and a self made man.

Jan. 13 2012 09:04 AM
Kelly Haran from Brooklyn

A friend made the connection between Romney and Lyle Wagner and now I can't shake that image.

Jan. 13 2012 09:03 AM
Steph from NYC

or Alex P. Keaton

Jan. 13 2012 08:54 AM
Steph from NYC

Dudley Do-Right!

Jan. 13 2012 08:52 AM
Wes

Skeletor

Jan. 12 2012 08:01 PM
andres

max headroom. no doubt.

Jan. 11 2012 10:54 PM

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