I agree with what Jim wrote about Romney’s exit from the Massachusetts governor’s mansion, and during the campaign, I had a problem with the way his supporters conflated his accomplishments as a business executive with his comparably weak record as governor to create an overall impression of managerial competence. It also bothers me to no end when Romney’s boosters argue that he isn’t really to blame for the failure of the big government health care legislation he championed because it was changed by Democrats — even though he signed the damn thing knowing that he would be leaving office and allowing liberals to oversee its implementation.
That said, politically speaking, Romney’s decision to leave office has not been as damaging as I believe Palin’s decision to resign will prove. Serving out a full term is psychologically different to voters than headlines about a politician resigning before his or her term expires, and jumping off what Quin wrote last week, Romney could argue that at least he did his duty by sticking it out for four years. In addition, because Romney was a successful businessman and helped turnaround the Salt Lake City Olympics, he was able to convince most Republican primary voters last year that he was a competent executive. While there are a number of views on why Romney ended up losing the nomination (the flip flops, the inauthenticity, his thin conservative credentials, anti-Mormon bigotry, the MSM wanted McCain, etc.) he did not lose because voters doubted his qualifications as a manager.
By contrast, Palin has a connection to the Republican base that Romney could not manufacture, but her biggest obstacle is convincing skeptics that she is qualified enough to be president and can be an effective executive. Because she doesn’t have similar private sector success to fall back on, her decision to leave office early will prove more politically damaging than Romney’s decision to quit after just one term.
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