In his final debate with President Obama, Mitt Romney reached a new stage in his development. Future historians with backgrounds in anthropology and entomology will trace the progress of a man able to use the complex metamorphosis of insects and a few animals to continually change shapes as they pass through stages including pupa, chrysalis, larva, nymph, imago, etc. After each stage the creature molts, sheds its skin, to emerge in a new shape.
Each stage can be physically different, as caterpillar into butterfly, or tadpole to frog. Or change can be gradual, as with grasshoppers, in which each stage is unmistakably a grasshopper, lacking wings, genitalia, etc, until the mature creature is formed.
Mitt Romney’s process is like the grasshopper’s, in which the outer shape is recognizable, changes subtle. Future historians will study the immature unmotivated college student, the Vietnam draft advocate who stays draft-deferred, the draft-deferred missionary, the motivated married graduate student, the hungry investor, the icy church bishop who demands a parishioner give up her child, the aspiring politician, the reach-across-the-aisle politician, the “seriously conservative” Teapublican, the shape-shifting all-things-to-all-voters presidential candidate, the debating I-didn’t-say-that quasi-moderate, and finally the centrist who endorses his opponent’s international policies claiming he’d do exactly the same thing, only better.
Should Romney be elected, it will illustrate that shape-shifting is a path to political success. From moderate David Brooks, to hysterical Rush Limbaugh, each comes to believe that their Mitt Romney is the real Mitt Romney.
As for the world, some may hope that shape-shifting will work on world leaders. Others will fear that in a context more complex than any he has ever faced, it could unleash an anti-American backlash. Romney faces a world able to destroy itself on the command of many leaders, from irrational Iran, to desperate Israel, ravaged Pakistan, isolated North Korea, to French, Russian, Indian, British, and inevitably, American bombs.
Can an unpredictable shape-shifting Mitt Romney turn planet Earth into a lifeless atomic-radiating ember, or would he only wreak mild changes like those from, say, the Jurassic to the Ice Age? Would humanity itself shape-shift to some new evolutionary form, or go the way of the dinosaur?
If voters put Romney into the seat of power, in the sense of the Chinese curse, we are in for “interesting times.”