First let’s get this out of the way: The things I didn’t know about Mitt Romney before watching Mitt the documentary.
1. Josh Romney is more interesting.
2. Mitt Romney has a bigmouth brother named Scott.
3. Mitt Romney is funny.
… and two surprises.
1. There’s almost no Paul Ryan in this doc He shows up once, 19 minutes to the end.
2. There are no scenes with Mitt Romney’s advisers talking to him, just family. This is probably good for Stuart
Stevens and the gang because this way there’s no video evidence of how lame and grossly overpaid they clearly were.
But on election night as the reality of defeat sets in, we hear Stevens get argued down by the candidate, his wife Ann, and their son Craig. We hear the voice of the delusional Stevens but the camera never shows him — most likely because Stevens wouldn’t allow it lest the man behind the curtain is confirmed to be an emperor with no clothes everyone already knows he is.
“My time on the stage is over guys I’m happy for the time I was there but it’s over,” a ticked off Mitt Romney tells Stevens after the adviser suggests something silly for Romney’s concession speech. “To do what? Stuart we’re done,” an annoyed Ann says backing up her husband. As far as I can tell, this entire documentary could have been just the election night scenes and that would have been Oscar material. The doc begins and ends with defeat night and it’s definitely the most “real” this thing gets. One thing is for sure: Democrats will enjoy those sequences. “Karl [Rove] is still counting Ohio…” and aide reveals. Yeah, Dems will enjoy that line for hours. Most of what remains is a Romney family home movie.
If the documentary Mitt was trying to make Mitt Romney seem like a regular guy, well, that’s still a tough one. Sure he can be funny, but the truth is: He’s not a regular guy. He’s the son of a former self-made well off Governor who was born on third base and became an investment banker. In a country with over 45 million living in poverty there’s nothing “regular” about millionaire Mitt. If Mitt was a “regular” American guy he could have reveled his taxes publicly. Even with all that, Romney is a bit more complex than the stereotype.
Romney knew he won the first debate of the 2012 campaign — as President Obama fell asleep. He also knew he lost the second one. Badly (as in, “proceed Governor”). Despite the swirling voices around him trying to tell him otherwise: he knew. That realistic part of the Mitt personality is far more attractive that the stiff guy with the helmet hair we saw on TV. But the notion that a different outcome would have resulted had voters been shown the “real” Mitt remains delusional. We in fact did see the “real” Mitt over two presidential campaigns and as Governor of Massachusetts. Unfortunately for Mitt, American voters also say the “real” Barack Obama — a gifted, smart challenger and political superstar. They also say the “real” John McCain, who defeated Romney in 2008.
Greg Whiteley has all this “unprecedented access” for this documentary. But for all the access Whiteley hasn’t revealed much we didn’t already know or suspect. We’re apparently supposed to be inherently impressed Whiteley has access at all. But somehow after watching Mitt you come away feeling Romney and his lackluster overpaid advisers could have done better than this.
Maybe it’s because Mitt is exactly who he appeared to be. The guy on the 47% video and the guy who plays in the snow with his grand kids. He’s the same person behind the scenes that he was in public and that’s all.