Perhaps Bruni based this conclusion, or the rest of his assessment of Romney --"congenitally closed-off and palpably awkward"-- on the results he got consulting the Times' special edition of the The Eight Ball which, shaken, comes up with adjectives for GOP candidates Timesworld doesn't like.
Or perhaps Bruni has actually sat and interviewed Romney a few times, read the available bios and talked to family, friends, neighbors and staff.
The plan is quite simple: Make Romney sinister. Trouble is, that's like making Tim Duncan short or Michael Phelps lazy. You can say it or write it, but the reality is so far removed from the description as to do nothing except diminish the writer or reporter.
Here's a sample of what Team Obama has in mind, from the Heilemann piece:
The Obama effort at disqualifying Romney will go beyond painting him as excessively conservative, however. It will aim to cast him as an avatar of revanchism. “He’s the fifties, he is retro, he is backward, and we are forward—that’s the basic construct,” says a top Obama strategist. “If you’re a woman, you’re Hispanic, you’re young, or you’ve gotten left out, you look at Romney and say, ‘This [*^%$] guy is gonna take us back to the way it always was, and guess what? I’ve never been part of that.’ ”
Yeah, that'll work. One of the nicest men who has ever run for the office, who has spent his professional life at the heights of international business and his post-business life leading an international Olympics games full of thousands of striving young men and women who are as connected and savvy as any on the globe, running ultra-liberal Massachusetts, and guiding two presidential campaigns while being followed by 10,000 reporters from new and old media alike is secretly plotting to throw us into the way-back machine.
Do Bruni and Heilemann read their own stuff after they get done transcribing the bulletins from Obamaland? These pieces are actually hilarious, and not just to people who have spent quite a bit of time interviewing Romney both in person and over the air but also to the casual observer of the candidate. "An intensely private man" doing the bobsled run for the Today Show? A "fifties guy" armed with the latest cases from HBS and a mountain of data on emerging trends in global economic growth?
Take us back? Well, perhaps to 6% unemployment and real GDP growth at a level that can be felt outside of the "green energy sector" which is shorthand for "friends of Obama with access to government guarantees and contracts."
Axelrod has to try something because the clock has effectively run-out on pretending a recovery will get here any day. Even if gas prices tumble by 25% they will be sky-high compared with when hope and change came to D.C. Even if the numbers can be worked again and again to get them below 8% unemployment, there will be a huge credibility problem and the legion of young people knocking on doors will remain just as large as before.
Romney nevertheless is going to be the cue for Phantom of the Opera organ music in the collective mind of the Chicago Gang and the dutiful reporters who relay their "vision" for how it will all work out.
That's their plan: To so distort the reality of Romney that voters won't notice the reality of Obama's record and the reality of their lives.
The trouble with the plan is that voters are very wired into actual data of the present and are not subject to the sort of manipulation of fear that might have worked 20 years ago. People who make such assertions will be laughed out outside of the their small circles of devotees.
In trying to turn Romney into Frankenstein, voters in the middle and even on the left will see Team Obama turning out another Colbert, and they will laugh.
And vote for Romney. Because a team that ham-handed, inept and especially condescending towards them is exactly the team that advised the president how to wreck the economy and confuse the world.