Friday, June 17, 2011

Deconstructing Mitt Romney's Weirdness

It starts with Jeff Zeleny on The New York Times blog:

Mitt Romney sat at the head of the table at a coffee shop here on Thursday, listening to a group of unemployed Floridians explain the challenges of looking for work. When they finished, he weighed in with a predicament of his own.

“I should tell my story,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m also unemployed.”

He chuckled. The eight people gathered around him, who had just finished talking about strategies of finding employment in a slow-to-recover economy, joined him in laughter.

“Are you on LinkedIn?” one of the men asked.

“I’m networking,” Mr. Romney replied. “I have my sight on a particular job.”
Joshua Green didn't tell the story so funny in The Atlantic:

Having a guy worth between $190 million and $250 million (according to campaign disclosures) joke about his unemployment status with people who lack not only jobs but also Romney's means, seems rather cruel. But I'm certain Romney mean nothing by it, and I doubt he even realized what he'd done.
Did the eight people around him who "joined him in laughter" think he was being "rather cruel?" I guess you had to be there, or maybe it's easier to make this stuff up when you are not.

The Atlantic took another example from Dana Milbank in the Washington Post:

He talks about the weak economy with the proprietors of a feed shop, then abruptly pivots: “Okay, so what do you do about mosquito control? . . . This has been a mosquito-infested year with all the moisture. They flew away with my dog.”
If you have spent any time in swampy New Hampshire in the late spring, you will know exactly what Mitt means. A feed store is one place you might buy pet food dietary supplements meant to ward off bugs. Weird.

The Washington Post did offer this proof of how out of touch Mitt is:

He departed Blake’s with a final plea for support in the New Hampshire primary, scheduled for Feb. 14. “Get out and vote,” he encouraged the diners. “It’s a while, though, I think. What is it, November? . . . It’s not November. It’s January. It’s February!”
Yes, the New Hampshire Caucus is scheduled for February 14, 2012. But New Hampshire is fiercely protective of being the first primary and when other states jockey for that position by moving their primaries earlier, New Hampshire always threatens to go one week earlier, even if that could mean as early as November. In 2008 it was held January 8.

You would get all that from Mitt's little joke if you lived in New Hampshire. And I suspect even a political junkie who came up for the day from Washington, DC would get it too. Not that he'd tell you.

That brings us back to Joshua Green in The Atlantic:

"The broader media is starting to pick up on this, and it looks as though Romney's weirdness is becoming something of a running narrative."
That Josh, always joshing, here with the "running narrative" pun. Get it, he's a candidate, he's running, he has a running narrative. Or as Dana Milbank put it in The Washington Post, "Oh, my goodness gracious! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha."

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