http://news.yahoo.com/romney-unlikable-235804293.html Romney, the Unlikable Very few votes are going to be cast on the basis of what Mitt Romney did or didnât do to John Lauber in 1965. So that, per se, isnât Romneyâs problem. But this is: The story lands as another brick on pile of evidence amassing that heâs just a disagreeable human being. A few days ago I wrote about Barack Obamaâs biggest problem, which is that despite all the many areas in which Americans rate him higher than Romney, the one on which they give Romney the edge happens to be pretty important: handling the economy. Now we get to Romneyâs biggest problem. The likability factor. He ainât got it. And he ainât got much of a way to get it. Historical question: When is the last time the clearly less likeable candidate beat the clearly more likeable one for the White House? The answer is, a long time. I put the question to Gallup, which didnât have historical numbers at hand. But doing some noodling around on my own suggests that you have to go back to 1968 to find such a result. In 2004, George W. Bush generally led the likeable category. Pew emailed me some numbersâthey had Bush leading John Kerry on likeability by 47 to 36 percent in September 2004. Interestingly, Kerry caught up and even went ahead after the first debate. But even so, voters judged both very likeableâ70 percent for Kerry, and 65 percent for Bush. In 2000, Bush usually topped Al Gore, but not by massive margins. An October 2000 poll gave Bush an 11-point margin. Pew had a nine-point margin for Bush around the same time. Before then, numbers get a little harder to come by. But crusty old Bob Dole was surely not considered more likeable than Bill Clinton in 1996. The 1992 Clinton-George H.W. Bush matchup was probably close. But just think back over the elections. The âwoodenâ Michael Dukakis in 1988 wasnât exactly radiating intense bonhomie. Ronald Reagan was extremely likeable on a personal level to most people. Jimmy Carter had that big smile in 1976. Et cetera. As I say, I would imagine that itâs 1968, when the surly Dick beat the Happy Warrior, although by just a half million votes out of more than 70 million cast. But even Nixon was probably not clearly less likeable than Humphrey. After all, heâd been the vice president, heâd been on the national stage for nearly 20 years; the man definitely had his backers. Romney, though? This is the biggest washout of modern times, folks. Gallup just this week put the likeability ratings at Obama 60, Romney 31. Itâs not that Obamaâs number is unusually high. Look back at those Kerry-Bush numbers. Americans are an open-hearted lot, at least presumptively, so they want to like the guy whoâs going be the president. But they Do. Not. Like. Mitt. Romney. It would be more interesting for all of us if there were some great mystery here, but there isnât. He reeks of privilege. Every time he says something off the cuff he says something obnoxious. Corporations are people, pal. I like firing people. Where on earth did you get those Godforsaken cookies? He alsoâand this actually is interesting, because itâs something our normal public discourse does not like to admit or allow forâis way too rich. Weâre constantly told that Americans donât have any class envy, and compared to some European nations they donât. But even Americans have limits. A few million, even $50 million; okay. But a quarter billion dollars? A house with an elevator . . . for the cars? It also matters to people how the money was made. Itâs okay to be worth a gajillion dollars if youâre Bill Gates or Steve Jobs and have made everyoneâs lives more interesting and cooler. But whatâs Mitt Romney done? Helped give us Dominoâs Pizza. Even so, Romney might still pass muster, but he has no grasp of the one crucial reality of class in America: you can be filthy rich as long as you donât look or act like it. Gates doesnât comb his hair, much. Jobs wore sneakers. Romney just looks too pressed. Even when heâs wearing those jeans. You can look at Romney on television and practically sense how he smellsâof costly ablutions whose brand names the rest of us probably donât even know. And he acts relentlessly rich. READ MORE Plane Protests Mittâs Liberty Speech And this brings us back to the Cranbrook School incident. We might have learned from The Washington Post this week that Romney gallantly interceded on poor Lauberâs behalf. Or even, maybe, that he did the awful deed, but a few years later he got in touch with Lauber to say, âGee, old scout, went a bit overboard there.â Or even that he acknowledged to one of his confederates that he regretted the incident. In other words, we might have learned something that showed he knows he behaved like an asshole. But all we learned is that he behaved like an asshole and is now pretending to forget it. A jerk is one thing. But a jerk who takes no responsibility for his jerkitude is pretty much the definition of an unlikeable person. No human being is one dimensional. Iâm sure there are plenty of people in the world for whom Mitt has performed kindnesses. I expect weâll be getting to know every single one of them in these next few months, too, in heavily filtered television ads in which the men wear proletarian flannel and the womenâs St. John blazers are kept safely in the closet. All I can say is theyâd better be more likeable than their candidateâfor his sake. In the meantime, thereâs something very reassuring about this country reposing in those numbers, that the black guy with the weird name whoâs been called everything under the sun is twice as likeable as the rich white guy. This is the America that drives the wingers crazy, but that the rest of usâthe majorityâlive in, and love.