Why? Because reality is a good thing. And after an evening of watching MSNBC dangle Romney, as it were, from a pair of tweezers and contemplate him as some sort of plutocratic fecal matter (eventually I had to change the channel), I felt I owed him what he said we all owed him—context.
Context doesn't do Romney any big favors, but it doesn't make matters even worse. We find Romney at what is probably his best—joking and bantering in company he's at ease with. If anyone here—including Romney—holds an opinion that would go against the grain of the majority, it goes unsaid. I've been at the occasional meet-and-greet for a liberal candidate and those are no different: there's a premise holding sway that the times are perilous and a crusade is necessary and we are the enlightened few being asked to rally to the colors. It's rude to question anything about this premise.
These rich folk Romney has come to for support ask questions and make comments that suggest a fairly lofty and narrow perspective on the world. No surprise there. They're not stupid, but some of their big ideas and pet peeves are pretty goofy. Again, no surprise. Romney must humor these people.
Fat cat: "How are you going to win if 54 percent of the voters think China's economy is bigger than ours? Or if it costs four cents to make a penny and we keep making pennies? Canada got it right a month ago. Why isn't someone saying, 'Stop making pennies, round it to the nearest nickel?' You know, that's an easy thing, compared to Iran. I want to see you take the gloves off and talk to people that actually read the paper and read the book and care about knowing the facts and acknowledges power. As opposed to people who are swayed by, you know, what sounds good at the moment. If you turned it into, like, 'Eat what you kill,' it'd be a landslide. In my humble opinion."
Romney: "[Laughs.] Well, I wrote a book that lays out my view for what has to happen in the country."
And . . .
Fat cat: "The debates are gonna be coming, and I hope at the right moment you can turn to President Obama, look at the American people, and say, 'If you vote to reelect President Obama, you're voting to bankrupt the United States.' I hope you keep that in your quiver because that's what gonna happen. And I think it's going to be very effective. Just wanted to give you that."
Romney: "Yeah, it's interesting . . ."
And . . .
Fat cat: "If you get the call as president, and you had hostages . . . Ronald Reagan was able to make a statement, even before he became, was actually sworn in—"
Fat cat: "—the hostages were released—"
Romney: "On the day of his inauguration, yeah."
Fat cat: "So my question is, really, how can you sort of duplicate that scenario?"
Romney: "Ohhhh. [A few chuckles in audience.] I'm gonna ask you, how do I duplicate that scenario?"
Fat cat: "I think that had to do with the fact that the Iranians perceived Reagan would do something to really get them out. In other words [unintelligible] . . . and that's why I'm suggesting that something that you say over the next few months gets the Iranians to understand that their pursuit of the bomb is something that you would predict and I think that's something that could possibly resonate very well with American Republican voters."
Romney: "I appreciate the idea."
Romney periodically interrupts his presentation to urge the others to keep eating, and he wraps it up by announcing he wants to dig into "the world's best dessert." Had he pandered to this crowd? I'd say no, but its bonhomie made his mind go slack. The notorious passage about the 47 percent of the people who'll vote for Barack Obama "no matter what" because they believe they're victims and the government has to take care of them sounds, in context, not so much ignorant as lazy. Dessert's being served, and sated appetites always have room for fairy tales.