The most telling moment of last night's Republican debate was virtually ignored by most pundits. When John King asked Mitt Romney to name the biggest misconception about himself, he chose to ignore the question and robotically repeated his stump pitch for why he should be President.
When pressed by King to answer the misconception question, Romney repeated a line he has used in previous debates, "You get to ask the question you want and I get to give the answer I want."
At the core of the ambivalence towards his candidacy is the fact that Americans really don't know who Romney is. From his "I'm a moderate, a progressive" days in Massachusetts to his to the right of Attila The Hun positions today, he comes off as desperately inauthentic in every way. Romney needs to look in the mirror and channel the words of the late Admiral James Stockdale, Ross Perot's running mate, who famously said in a debate, "Who am I, and why am I here?"
Answering the question of what is the biggest misconception about himself, would have been a golden opportunity to give voters at least a glimpse into who Mitt Romney really is. Yet Romney ignored the question, because he apparently has no ability to be introspective at all.
And if he thinks it's acceptable to refuse to answer simple questions about who he is, how will he respond to the far more pressing questions that will arise if he was President? If an instant decision had to be made to protect the country, would Romney simply refuse to make that decision and sing "America The Beautiful" instead?
Romney's arrogant demand to "give the answer I want", is a troubling character trait that is totally unacceptable for a candidate for President of the United States.
For those of us going through GOP debate withdrawal between now and Feb. 22, here are some ways to make the most of that time.
First, for the candidates themselves: Don't say anythingbetween now and the next debate. When was the last time a candidate said something outside of a debate that actually made him look good?
If Romney had followed this advice, he wouldn't have said that he doesn't worry about the very poor. He could have been lounging by the pool at his mansion in La Jolla.
And Newt Gingrich wouldn't repeat his false claim that the Palestinians are "an invented people." Just watching the tired, grumpy Newt ramble on in his non-concession concession speeches shows why his decision last June to go on a cruise with Calista was actually the best idea he's had so far in his campaign.
And maybe Ron Paul might use the time off from the campaign trail to remember that he really did know the contents of a newsletter named after him.
And Rick Santorum might just realize, with some rest and reflection, that saying he opposes abortion even in cases of rape because it's "a gift of human life, and accept what God is giving to you" is so morally offensive that even he would reconsider those words.
And since the candidates wouldn't be saying anything, neither should the pundits. The last original observation was uttered about six weeks ago, so why keep talking? Let the talking heads give their mundane thoughts about issues other than the Republican presidential candidates. And promise, under no circumstances, to ever mention Donald Trump's name.
And for the rest of us, we should use this GOP reality show hiatus to focus on the real world -- which is a much smarter, more compassionate world than the one the debates live in.