It’s taken me a while to figure out what bothers me the most about Mitt Romney.
Is it the lying, changing his policy positions every 10 minutes, pandering to the extreme fringe of the Republican Party, the violent gay bashing at his preppy boarding school, the cruel corporate raping during his Bain days, never getting his facts quite right, the off-shore accounts and mysterious tax returns, the barely coded racist slurs, the bashing of health care reform that is modeled after his own Massachusetts law?
Lots of things trouble me about him but I couldn’t fit it all fit together.
This morning, I finally figured it out. Mitt Romney is an upper class twit. He’s the living, breathing, personification of the classic Monty Python’s sketch.
Actually, Paul Krugman kick-started my thinking when he called Romney “Mr. Bean” in a blog post Wednesday morning. But I knew Romney isn’t Mr. Bean who, at his core, is a noble person and there’s nothing noble about Romney. Yet Dr. Krugman’s word picture started moving my mind in the right direction and I suddenly flashed on the Python’s.
Romney’s “twit-ness” is on display almost every day.
Whether telling a group of people barely hanging on to their middle class status in Ohio “I’m unemployed” during the Republican primaries, getting snappish when pressed about releasing his tax returns or going to Britain on the eve of the Olympics and telling Londoners the Salt Lake event he staged was better, there is no end to Romney’s arrogance.
This isn’t about whether I want to have a beer with him; that’s a pollster’s idiotic question measuring nothing. It is that the man has spent his life so far removed from what us ordinary proles cope with every day that he has no concept of how off-putting he is.
And it’s not about his wealth or background, per se. Over the years, I’ve known a number of individuals who came from privileged, wealthy families including two women I dated seriously for a time. None of them were haughty, none of them looked down on the rest of the world the way Romney does.
He truly thinks he is special because he is rich.
A Wharton b-school professor once described this attitude as being fairly common among uberwealthy captains of industry: “They think that their IQ is as big as their bank account.”
No Style, No Substance
About 100 lifetimes ago, I dated a woman whose great-great something or other invented the mechanical reaper, a stroke of genius that created a vast fortune for all of his descendants. As we lay talking about this one night before going to sleep, I recall Abby telling me that many of her relatives as well as acquaintances in the same social strata actually believe that money gives them substance. She said, “I suppose they can buy style but they can’t buy substance.”
Romney has money alright, gobs of it, but lacks both style and substance.
If he had any style, he wouldn’t have gone to Jerusalem and, practically within earshot of Ramallah, say that the Palestinian people were poor because they are racially and culturally inferior.
If he had any substance, he would have known not to tell an audience in Poland that he applauds them for believing in small government – even though, as a percent of GDP, Poland’s government is larger than America’s, and is growing faster. In Poland, government expenditures represent 42% of GDP while Washington’s is but 37%. And that includes the enormous military the US maintains along with hundreds of thousands of espiocrats working in known and unknown intelligence agencies.
I was around when George Romney made his aborted run for the Republican presidential nomination. I didn’t agree with any of his policies but thought the governor was a decent enough fellow. So how did he manage to raise an insufferable yob for a son, a total upper class twit?
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Charley’s next book is about his experience being homeless. When published, he will donate a percentage of his royalties to homeless organizations.