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GLOBE EDITORIAL

Romney's French complex

THERE IS a lot that makes sense in the PowerPoint document, described in Tuesday's Globe, that outlines an electoral strategy for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. After all, a competent candidate has to have a modicum of political self-knowledge. He needs to grasp his own vulnerabilities as well as his rivals' areas of weakness. And the candidate should enter the lists with a clear idea of the targets at which he will aim his lance.

But if there is one intriguing peculiarity in the enemies list compiled for the Romney campaign, it is the primacy given to France as the ultimate evil haunting America's future. The other "bogeymen" are boiler-plate adversaries for a Republican who needs to persuade the right-wingers who seem to exercise a virtual veto over the party's nominee that he is really one of them.

What the Regents of the Right revile as Hollywood values must be on the scroll of denounced demons. Ditto for taxes, jihadism, and Hillary Clinton. Even the presence of Massachusetts on the infernal side of the ledger cannot come as a surprise.

For some time, Romney has been jetting around the country, raising money and rousing the Republican faithful by making jokes about the Commonwealth. The voters of Massachusetts may resent being the butt of the governor's shtick, but they have to admire the deftness of his costume changes. People in these parts long ago realized that Romney's mocking of Massachusetts is key to what the PowerPoint presentation calls "Primal Code for Brand Romney" -- and never mind that voters may prefer an actual person to a brand.

That phrase distills an essence of business school theology. It suits the venture-capital background of a candidate who is preparing to present himself to the American electorate as a "tested, intelligent, get-it-done, turnaround CEO g overnor." Translated from B-school jargon to English, this means that the Commonwealth was just another under performing corporate entity before Romney took it over, re organized it, and transformed it into a launching pad for his flight to the White House -- though he left the state with fewer Republicans than he started with.

But why France? With an overwhelming majority of Americans now opposed to the Iraq war, does Romney believe that American voters still fall for the Bush-Cheney renaming of french fries? At a time when France is cooperating closely with the United States against jihadist networks, does Romney think he can best show himself ready to lead the free world by printing bumper stickers that say, "First, not France"?

One of Romney's consultants ought to tell him about the French standard of living he is preparing to ridicule -- and the many venture capitalists who take every chance to enjoy it.

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