The gang on this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show actually spent a considerable amount of time advancing the media contention that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is "weird."
As evidence, the host said the former Massachusetts governor's "sense of humor is definitely somewhere out there for most people" citing a June 2011 incident when Romney on the campaign stump joked about somebody grabbing his "tush" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Let’s go into the code, the intangibles again about Romney. He has come off in the early part of this campaign as a bit odd in different ways. His sense of humor is definitely somewhere out there for most people. Politico, your organization, has written in the past that there’s a sense of him being weird, and that can be played upon and may tangentially catch on to his religion as well as part of the weirdness about the guy. He comes from a different background from us, from other people. How do you think it's going to play, John Harris?
JOHN HARRIS, POLITICO: I don't think Romney is weird, but he has lived a life that is removed from the experiences and the sort of outlook of many Americans. It's been removed because of his wealth, because of his career orientation, but also because of his religion.
MATTHEWS: Well, for example, let me give you an example of weird. When you think it's a funny joke that somebody has grabbed your tush from behind and you go jumping out as if somebody’s done that. Is that humor that strikes you as like 70 years old?
Matthews has been fixated with this episode since it happened. He first discussed it on MSNBC's Hardball the very day it occurred on June 14, 2011:
As you should notice, the ladies he was standing with thought it was funny.
But with Romney, he can't win.
If he's not joking around, he's too stiff. If he tries to be humorous, he's weird.
Such is the life of a Republican presidential candidate when he has a shot at beating a Democrat.
As for Harris's answer:
HARRIS: He comes off as square and he comes off as something out of a different generation. I do think the Mormonism plays into this, Chris, because people wonder with Mitt Romney, what is his core? What animates this guy? What quickens his pulse? What’s he really like at bottom? And I think the answer to that, a lot of it does lie in in his religious faith. It's very important to him.
Is there something wrong with a man's religion being "very important to him?" Should be the other way around, right?
In fact, I would suggest that Romney's faith is actually more important to his detractors that just can't stop talking about his Mormonism.
Yet we never hear people concerned with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) Mormonism. That's never made him too "weird" to be arguably the third most powerful person in the nation since January 2007.
You likely also don't recall hearing about former Congressman Mo Udall's (D-Ariz.) Mormonism when he ran for president in 1976.
36 years later, you can't have a discussion about Romney without his faith surfacing as "weird."
As for Harris's claim that "people wonder with Mitt Romney, what is his core? What animates this guy? What quickens his pulse? What’s he really like at bottom?"
Wouldn't it have been nice if folks like Harris had the same curiosity about Barack Obama in 2008?
Or would that have been too much like journalism?
— Noel Sheppard (@NoelSheppard) June 9, 2012