(Note: We originally posted this back in November, probably too early in the election cycle for this kind of focus. With the article in WAPO about bullying incidents when Romney was in prep school, however, his temperament seems to be hitting the national radar. If you take a look at the “Lava From Mount Mitt” post we did four years ago, Mitt’s temper has been something we’ve been interested in for some time.)
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Aides to Mr. Romney say that he has substantially evolved since his 2008 bid, and that Mitt 2.0 is a more relaxed, confident version of the man voters met then.
– from: On Trail, Casual Friday Versus Boardroom Cool 8/25/11 (NYT)
One longtime aide recalls Mr. Romney, a few weeks after conceding to Senator McCain in 2008, saying “Ahhhh, feels like I finally managed to loosen the laces on my shoes.”
from: Lectern Gone, Romney Finds More Success 10/24/11 (NYT)
For all the Levis and plain-language answers that supposedly constitute Mitt 2.0, what we continue to see in Romney is someone who is excitable, always right and constantly taking offense. As Campaign ’12 starts to really get rolling, I’m happy to see different sites — Gawker, for example, piggybacking on this “emotional profile” in TNR — call out the core feature of Mitt’s psychological baggage, which is his temperament. For longer-term readers of The Bag, we laid out the problem in a series of screen shots way back in December ’07 — “Lava From Mount Mitt” — when he let his guard down in a radio interview with conservative talk show host, Jan Mickelson.
As evidence of the symptom expressing itself more recently, TNR points to the October 18th CNN debate in Las Vegas where Romney gets into it with Rick Perry in the immigration segment. Problem is, citizens are not trained as clinicians so, as perceptive as they might be, they are mostly socialized to look past or simply downplay more aberrant behavior. And in Romney’s case, given all the handling and coaching he’s receiving on top of his own attempts to stay cool, it’s not that he isn’t getting getting agitated or getting his back up just as much, but he also knows to rope himself back fairly quickly.
Still, because anger can be cold as well as hot, and because anger can also flash like lightening, the clearest way to isolate Mitt’s agitation — just like in our post in ’07 — is through screen shots where we can more easily witness the affective bolts of stress, vexation and agression take over the man’s body.
(screen shots via CNN video)