(Photo: George and Lenore Romney visit Chicago, September 1967 (Photo: Edward Kitch/AP).
Spoke Buzzfeed McKay Coppins some weeks back about Mitt Romney's profound affection for his father, George Romney, and how this relationship informs and inspires Romney's choices. Certainly the remembered error of the 1968 presidential contest, when George Romney used the concept of brainwashing about the contentious Vietnam war debate, has guided Mitt Romney's cautious language since the primaries. But what else? George Romney was a passionate, outspoken, confrontational, hands-on, even sweaty salt-of-the-earth governor, a man who, in the hottest battles of the civil rights era, charged into the front lines in Detroit. Mitt Romney has never demonstrated a similar instinct to go into the front lines and risk controversy. Mitt Romney is a boardroom risk-taker; Mitt Romney is a bottom line judge; Mitt Romney is a cheerleader, not a running back, far less a quarterback. Mitt Romney's speech to Tampa proposed the metaphor of a coach. I asked McKay Coppins if there might be more Mom Lenore Romney in him then Dad George Romney? Studying this video (thanks to the tireless Buzzefeed Andrew Kaczynski), Lenore Romney's praise of her husband George is strikingly similar both to Ann Romney's praise of Mitt Romney and to Mitt Romney's praise of George Romney. Praise, praise praise. Who is the original praise maker? Chronologically, the original is Lenore Romney in 1962 on TV. Lenore is articulate, convincing, polite, repetitive, confident, extremely well-presented, carefully coiffed, bejeweled like a suburban Cleopatra, a time machine representative of Cold War dominated Detroit: a reality TV version of the celebrated June Cleaver (1957-1963).
Mitt and Lenore
More suggestive to my study is that Mitt Romney is much more successful on the stage of history as his Mom than his Dad. Lenore's soft-spokenness, her struggle to make clear what is obvious to her, her patient repetition, her fastidious argument building to the concrete conclusion, the quicker pace as she reaches the selling point, even the bargaining -- "just give him a chance; it's only two years..." -- are strikingly similar to Mitt Romney's tone and delivery at Tampa. Lenore is most forceful about her husband, freshly expressive about her husband's heroic labor, passionate about the challenges to her husband, and yet through it all Lenore is floating at a near distance. Lenore is not truly in contact with the interviewer or the audience; she is more a critic than an actor, more a cheerleader (coach) than a player. These are preliminary arguments. In sum, is Mitt Romney turning into his Mom while he speaks of his Dad? Is Mitt Romney most comfortable on stage when he is sitting beside Mom, recalling her style and substance? This is a lit-crit question of melodrama that does not need an answer; however, if it is in the right direction, and Mitt Romney takes the White House, it is fun to weigh the possibilities of June Cleaver's son, commander-in-chief.
As a teen, June knew and dated Ward Cleaver, a farmer's son. Ward lived in nearby Shaker Heights. The two attended State college together. June kept her maiden name, Bronson, as one of her middle names after marrying Ward. Ward and June have two sons, Wally and Theodore aka "Beaver". June's oldest son, Wally, is a good student and popular with everyone while young Beaver has a difficult time staying out of trouble. The Cleavers live initially at 485 Mapleton Drive and move to 211 Pine Street at the beginning of the third season.