Blessed with parodically presidential good looks, yet cursed with the unconvincing mannerisms of an early-generation android without its update patch, Romney is that most discombobulating of political phenomena—a boring enigma. Trying to figure out his true nature is akin to facing a block of polystyrene. You can’t see inside, and you can’t get a toehold. You’re left with analogies. Romney has been dubbed the next Herbert Hoover, awarded the honorary George H.W. Bush “Wimp” prize from Newsweek, and compared to a porn-movie queen because he changes his positions so often (this last from Arlen Specter, who only changes parties). Those of a more artistic bent have dubbed Romney a latter-day Zelig or, more arcanely, the Man without Qualities, although this is an insult to Robert Musil’s fictional hero, who may have shared Romney’s unwillingness to take a firm position on anything but at least had the courtesy not to seek political power.
—John Powers on Mitt Romney, from our new (and redesigned!) September/October issue