Parker Finds Rap on Romney as 'Dull and Vanilla' Unfair, But She Contributed to It in the NYTimes

Times campaign reporter Ashley Parker looks back semi-fondly at Mitt Romney's apparently successful run for the Republican nomination in her Sunday "news analysis," "A Romney Rambler Looks Back."

The people who said that this race was boring and that it couldn’t possibly compete with the excitement and stature of 2008 may yet be right. But they, too, will be back out on the trail. After all, a predictable, even-keeled and sometimes awkward nominee is still far more interesting than a predictable, even-keeled and sometimes awkward politician in a field of nearly a dozen.

And, frankly, most of us who have been there since the beginning find the rap on Mr. Romney that he’s dull and vanilla a little unfair. Sure, it can be monotonous to listen to the same measured stump speech again and again, but Mr. Romney’s usual adherence to the script has given us a newfound appreciation for those little quirks and moments when he blips off message.

We know the hard-won thrill of Friday-night town halls, when Mr. Romney is often his most giddy self and voters are liable to say anything. At a Hilton Head, S.C., town hall one Friday night, a woman stood and asked if Mr. Romney, as a Mormon, accepted the divine saving grace of Jesus Christ (he did), followed by a little girl who asked him how frequently he washed his hands, for a school project she was working on about germs.

It's nice to see a counter to the conventional wisdom in the Times. Yet Parker herself contributed mightily to that "unfair" rap on Romney in her campaign coverage, besides the constant needling of the campaign over incredibly minor issues (like Jalapeno-gate). On December 28, 2011 Parker wrote: "When Mitt Romney introduces himself to voters, he has a peculiar habit of guessing their age or nationality, often incorrectly," and several times fed into the idea of robotic Romney by spelling out his laughter: "Ha-ha." On December 14: "Mitt Romney -- he of the inscrutable, overly polished and occasionally robotic mien -- is striving mightily to humanize himself just three weeks before the first round of voting begins."