Mitt Romney’s off-the-cuff comments are starting to seem like Barack Obama’s bowling: Not good. Kind of spectacularly bad. Kitsch on a kind day.
Romney keeps on rolling gutter balls in front of the cameras: “The trees are the right height.” “I like being able to fire people.” “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” “I’m Mitt Romney—and yes Wolf, that’s also my first name.”
Normally the adage “a gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth” applies. On the Jay Leno show, Obama famously compared his bowling skills to those in the Special Olympics. Many, including myself, were offended by the remark (mainly because the Special Olympics athletes are far better bowlers than Mr. Obama). The President apologized profusely for the statement.
But Romney’s greatest gaffes are less accidental nuggets of candor (like, “I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”) and more what you’d call disquieting sound bites of misfired pandering. Moments that can be summed up by the phrase “cheesy grits.”
Yes, he told a crowd in Mississippi during the primary, he had “cheesy grits” (as opposed to cheese grits) for breakfast and he was learning how to say, “ya’ll.” He would have been better off saying sweet tea (a diabetic coma-inducing regional syrup served over ice) is best with Splenda and he was learning how to talk … real … slow.
(Rick Santorum won Mississippi, by the way.)
Yes, when Romney attempts to show how in touch he is with Americans, he ends up displaying exactly how in touch he is with Americans. Meaning: Not at all.
This week, minutes after marveling at the 10-year-old touch screen technology at a Wawa in Quakertown, Romney was still stuck on regional sandwiches when he got to Cornwall, Pennsylvania. “By the way, where do you get your hoagies here?” he asked the crowd of supporters. “Do you get them at Wawas? Is that where you get them? No? Do you get them at Sheetz? Where do you get them?” According to reports the crowd booed until Governor Tom Corbett offered that the locals got their sandwiches at “delis.”
Here’s the thing: For a man whose book is titled “No Apology,” Mitt’s awkward Rand McNally riffing looks like he’s apologizing for not being from there. And in the case of Michigan (where he actually is from) not being enough like those who are from there. “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs, actually.” He’s telling us who he is by making it clear what he’s not: A man of the people … unless those “people” are corporations, my friends.
According to Moody’s Analytics, the unemployment rate would actually be a percentage point lower if the government employed as many people as we did in 2009. It’s a time when government IS shrinking—teachers and cops are being laid off and Mitt’s hoagie haven Pennsylvania lost 5,400 government jobs just this year. Mitt also does his best to seem obtuse. “[Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
Who could have guessed a rich man running for a government job would have the chutzpah (pronounced choots-paw if your last name is Bachmann) to stand up against more firefighters and teachers?
One minute Romney is touting his business experience and wealth as a qualification to be president—the next minute he’s trying to appear like he’s not (as Jon Stewart observed) the guy who just fired your dad.
President Obama should not bowl. Ever. And Romney, well, he should stop trying to relate to blue-collar living and just be the stuffy, privileged, Ivy League, over-educated, French-speaking, affluent Republican he is.
Mitt, if that is your real name (it isn’t), just be yourself.
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Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the managing editor of Crooks and Liars. Tina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.