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The REAL Mittens


I continue to find this kind of logic baffling, although if you’re a vanishing breed of moderate Republican (or particularly clueless postNaderite dead-ender) I suppose you have no choice but to try to convince yourself:

David Brooks blames the Romney 47% comments on maladroitness: the awkward mis-expression of a man pretending to be something he’s not.

Likely so.

But they also reveal that Romney has been reshaped by this campaign.

For reasons that Jon Chait lays out in detail (1, 2), I don’t think there’s the slightest reason to believe that the Romney captured on tape isn’t the “real Romney.” As far as I can tell, there is in fact every reason to believe that the Romney who tells people that as son of a governor and car company president he succeeded entirely by the sweat of his own brow and anyone who didn’t is a hopeless parasite is, in fact, telling the truth.

Again, it’s unknowable and doesn’t matter — as a president situated in the contemporary Republican Party he will govern like the guy ranting about the 47%ers whether he believes it or not. But I have no idea why anyone thinks that the Romney who was only as conservative as a governor of Massachusetts could be and remain viable is the “real one.” Pretty much all evidence suggests that the Romney who considers himself a Galtian superhero is the “real Romney” and the moderate Romney was the panderer. The idea that Romney is secretly like his father is nothing but projection.

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  • mark f

    tells people that as son of a governor and car company president he succeeded entirely by the sweat of his own brow

    Edroso quoted some wingnut going on about how Mitt “gave away his entire first fortune” a few weeks back, so I did some research into it. We already knew, after all, that he’d been to Michigan’s most elite prep school and then sold the stocks he was given as a birthday present (!) to pay tuition and rent in college (!!). Not surprisingly, it turns out to be one of those things that’s sort-of-but-not-really true.

    Because while Mitt and his followers would have us think that young Willard M. Romney cut up his driver’s license and Social Security card and wandered into the woods, to eventually turn up at a Boston soup kitchen with the precocious name Alexander Supertramp W. Mitt Romney and make his fortune as a mystery man, that’s not quite the story.

    Instead, Mitt donated his $1 million inheritance to BYU. To found a scholarship named after George Romney. In 1997. When he was in his mid-40s and wealthy & powerful enough to credibly challenge Ted Kennedy in an election.

    So, not a terrible thing for him to have done, but tells us nothing about the advantages he was born with.

    • RedSquareBear

      I’m *sure* the GOP only says that because “Gave away a sum equal to (in nominal not real dollars) his inheritance to establish a self-serving, semi-self-named scholarship at a right-wing private university.” is too long to fit on a T Shirt!

    • It was particularly ironic and piquant when young Mitt, on his self-imposed journey into the underbelly of the fever swamp of the beast-with-two-backs, was arrested for stealing a truckload of goods labeled ‘Romney Enterprises’ … but the upshot is that to this very day he only plays a tin-eared, avuncular moneybags in public to maintain his secret identity as a batshit-crazy wingnut on the $50,000-a-plate political dinner circuit.

      • dave

        I see what you did there.

    • Barry

      “So, not a terrible thing for him to have done, but tells us nothing about the advantages he was born with.”

      And not even charitable (for reasons other than the Widow’s Mite); being a significant donor to BUY has got to open windows in the Mormon world. Lucrative windows.

    • Moleman

      While Mitt Romney did begin his career at Bain Capital as a luchadore-masked mystery man, he was unmasked in 1994 after losing a match to Warren Buffet, whose flying armbar proved inescapable for the less experienced fighter.

  • Bexley

    Mittens is re-launching his candidacy with a populist platform that will see him surge past Obama.

    • NonyNony

      Nice try, but we all know that Obama is the one with the time machine. How else do you explain the birth certificate?

      • Cody

        It’s true. Someone named “Obama” even put those ads into the paper.

        How could Obama have put his own ad into the paper when he was just baby? Only possible answer is time travel.

        In a related note, we all need to brush up on our Future Semiconditionally Modified Subinverted Plagal Past Subjunctive Intentional tenses, or else we’ll never be able to converse with Obama properly.

      • Bexley

        Come on now – we all know the birth certificate was faked long after Obama’s birth. Just ask Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

        • Warren Terra

          It’s worse than that. Hawai’i was faked after his birth. It was created for a TV series in 1968 and also for a TV special in 1972.

          • Davis X. Machina

            The secret went to the grave with former Hawai’i governor Danny “Danno” Williams

          • RedSquareBear

            Now that’s just not true.

            What the the Germans bomb in 1941?

            • delurking

              Oh, come on. You believe that story? I bet you believe NASA landed on the moon, too.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Again, it’s unknowable and doesn’t matter — as a president situated in the contemporary Republican Party he will govern like the guy ranting about the 47%ers whether he believes it or not.

    To me, this is the take-home point. My guess–and it’s only a guess–is that the “real Romney” cares only about Mitt Romney and is willing to do or say anything to benefit Mitt Romney. Which is to say, he’s “really” neither the moderate conservative who governed Massachusetts nor the frothing-at-the-mouth reactionary of the Boca recording.

    But who politicians are in their heart of hearts matters much less than what they do. And we can be very sure of what Romney would do as President.

    • mark f

      100% Agreeance.

      He just really, really, really wants to be president. And I think it’s related to the Galtian superhero thing: what’s the most important, hardest to get, most challenging job in the world? It probably doesn’t hurt that it’d finally “prove” that lots of people not named “Ann Romney” actually like him.

    • Kurzleg

      And what benefits Mitt just happens to coincide with what he said in Boca.

      • DrDick

        To be honest, I think the evidence shows that Romney is simply an over privileged upper class twit who disdains the lower orders (anyone making less than $250K) and whose only core values are that he should get whatever he wants because he is entitled.

        • kerry

          Right, and you can see this in the way he reacts to every bit of bad news or criticism – he just does not get it. He seems to be in a near-constant state of bafflement that things aren’t going they way they are supposed to (that is, his way). His robot brain cannot compute why the country won’t just hand him the presidency just because he wants it, because that is how life has worked for him so far.

          • Heron

            Exactly! What has this man actually WORKED for, ever? He’s given a fortune as a college kid, given a superb education due to who his father was, kept out of the War by his mission work, then handed a controlling position in a private equity firm despite zero banking, accounting, or analysis experience, where he proceeds to make another fortune primarily by leveraging other people’s money to buy up healthy companies, load them with debt by forcing them to pay his firm exorbitant “consultant” fees and make horrible investments, then bet against the bad investments they forced that company to make so that when they go sour they make money on the back end to. Then there’s that case of fraud Bain committed during his tenure uncovered by the recent docu-dump.

            Romney’s never really done anything, and he’s gotten everything anyway; no wonder he seems so perplexed when he can’t just cut a check for political office.

    • witless chum

      In Michigan, we do have an actual moderate Republican governor in Rick Snyder who swept in and steamrolled the Republican primary field last year despite having not really paid any dues and only giving lip service to hating gays and abortion. He’s embarked on an agenda of cutting rich people and corporations’ taxes.

      The result is better than if we had Pete Hoekstra in there. Snyder, as an actual plutocrat, cares about infrastructure and a function government and such, presumably because he recognizes that it’s good for business. Not enough to tax his buddies, but he does recognize it as a need, unlike a more theoretician type like Hoekstra or the current crop of GOP congressmen. And he’ll do things like veto half of a bill making it illegal for universities and local governments to offer domestic partner benefits.

      The best case scenario in the Romney is a moderate fantasy land is something like Rick Snyder. And say it could be worse is not to say it’s good.

  • somethingblue

    …(or particularly clueless postNaderite dead-ender)…

    For greater ease of trolling I would suggest that this be abbreviated to PCPNDE or “peace panda.”

    Also, Ann Romney reminds us that Mitt is the real victim.

    • RedSquareBear


      Which to my eye looks like “angel dust near-death-experience” (which probably accounts for a lot of Nadir voters voting as they do.)

    • njorl

      We are taking Mitt out of context. The context is we’re supposed to have a billion dollars. It sounds better that way.

    • Cody

      No, I think she’s confused. We’re taking him in the proper context, but it befuddles her we’re not 100% behind the idea of disowning 47% of Americans.

      It’s basic business principles: You cut loose what’s losing you money.

  • JREinATL

    There is no “real Romney.” Romney has shown time and time again that he will be whatever he has to be. And to be the Republican nominee, he has to hold the views of crazy people. So that’s what he is, “real” or not.

    • RedSquareBear

      Under the mask is… a mirror?

      • Just Dropping By

        That’s actually rather eloquent.

    • Kurzleg

      Judging by his actions at Bain and his use of off-shore tax shelters, I’d say that his comments at Boca are fairly representative of the real Mitt.

  • rea

    ‘Cause I’m Mitt Romney, yes I’m the real Romney
    All you other Mitt Romneys are just imitating
    So won’t the real Mitt Romney please stand up,
    please stand up, please stand up?

    • avoidswork

      careful what you wish for…prior RomneyBots may be housed in the La Jolla home and transported via the car elevator.

    • mark f
      • Bexley

        My dog is on the roof. Brilliant.

  • But George W. Bush was exactly like his father. And so was Evan Bayh. And so is Andrew Cuomo. So the idea that all politicians must be exactly like their fathers is obviously true and without any possibility of ridicule….

    • rea

      And Benjamin Harrison was just like Old Tippecanoe! Well, except for the beard, and the pneumonia . . .

      • MT_in_WI


      • Well, that was a grandfather and grandson thing. But then, we know Matt Yglesias holds the same politics as his grandfather who wrote for the Daily Worker, so the generational political genes still work at 2 generations.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          Well the Daily Worker was very steadfast about maintaining the no-strike pledge during World War II…..

        • Rob

          Speaking of which, guess who was openly proud of supporting Mitt Romney for Governor up until about 12 months ago?

          • Malaclypse

            He bragged about it 19 days ago – see link below,

  • Joshua

    Yea, by now it should be abundantly obvious that Mittens put one over on the good people of Massachusetts.

    • Kurzleg

      Sure, but they got health insurance out of it.

    • Cody

      Maybe Massachusetts put one over him. Elected him governor so his legacy would be Obamacare in Massachusetts.

      Every wikipedia article shall say “Mitt Romney’s signature achievement was instituting Obamacare before it was called Obamacare”

      He’ll be rolling in his grave as long as wikipedia sticks with us…

      • Rarely Posts

        Yeah, his term as governor seems to have gone well in Massachusetts – it’s not clear to me that the democratic alternative would have achieved near universal healthcare. It’s true that Dean managed to pull it off in Vermont, but that’s Vermont.

        Also, maybe the democratic swing-voters in Massachusetts were playing a long game: build up the credibility of this “moderate” Republican, position him to run for and win the Republican nomination for President, and then sit back and laugh as he crashes and burns on the national stage..

        Now, that’s some 11th dimensional chess that I would be proud of.

    • Scott Lemieux

      By the way, didn’t Yglesias vote for him?

      • Malaclypse

        Why yes he did. And as recently as this August, he does not seem to think that was a mistake.

        • Cody

          I guess the last thing you want is a rampant Democratic party controlling all the branches of the government!

          For a Republican Moderate like him, I’m sure he was frightened by the dangers of complete power.

          I still think it’s fun that the Democrats in Massachusetts inflicted healthcare reform on Romney’s legacy.

  • Malaclypse

    I attended the Cambridge Ward in the 1990s, long after I stopped believing. Mittens was Stake President then. And a man there had just come out as being gay. He was trying to do all the things the LDS church said he should – he was honest, and he was celibate. And the honesty meant he was suddenly living in a fishbowl. And Mitt got up and gave a talk on the abomination of homosexuality. He was supposed to be in a pastoral role, and he went way the fuck beyond the official homophobia of the LDS church in order to single out my friend for ostracism, simply because he could.

    To me, that will always be the Real Romney.

    Also (via Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

    And also, too.

    • scott

      Wow. I’m not real familiar with Mormons, but where did Romney do this? Like in church in front of the whole congregation (probably wrong word), with your friend there? I mean, it’s bad enough regardless of the context or setting, but I was curious about the details, if you felt like sharing. Either way, I appreciate hearing the story because the personal bits tell you more about the human being than a raft of speeches or policies. Thanks!

      • Malaclypse

        Yes, it was in front of the whole ward (i.e. congregation). Mittens did not normally attend that ward – this was one set up specifically for single (yes, it is important to marry people off) college-aged people in the Boston area, but he was Stake President – basically the equivalent of a Catholic Bishop that would oversee several congregations.

        Now, being LDS goes beyond simply attending church once a week. There are a lot of activities, so it is very easy even in a place like Massachusetts to find that almost all of your social life revolves around church activities, with other Mormons. And this is even more the case with a singles ward, which is explicitly about getting people paired up so that they can “graduate” to a “real” ward. The LDS church is the most all-encompassing social structure I have ever been remotely attached to, and my attachment was always more remote than most.

        I attended for about two years. This was, to my recollection, the only time I saw Mitt speak. And he talked about the evils of homosex, just after someone cam out publicly. I’d be surprised if there were ten people in attendance who did not know who he was talking about. Mitt was responsible for pastoral care, one of the people under his “guidance” was undergoing a genuine crisis [*], and Mitt took the opportunity to be a bully.

        * The LDS church, unlike mainstream Christianity, does not exclude gays just because. It is completely central to LDS theology that Elohim is a heterosexual male with a physical body who is married to God the Mother (or Mothers, depending). As all Mormons strive to be like God, that means physical procreation with a heterosexual partner sealed to you for all Time and Eternity in a Temple. Anything other than this means that you will forever be a second-class citizen, even in the afterlife. Coming out as a gay mormon is incredibly traumatic, in ways I can’t begin to describe.

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          The LDS church is the most all-encompassing social structure I have ever been remotely attached to…

          This is what I’ve always heard (and read), which is why Willard’s willingness to mouth the quasi-Randroid propertarian individualist rhetoric of today’s GOP is particularly bizarre. Mormonism is the most communitarian religion this side of the Amish. And Mitt clearly knows this. Either he doesn’t really even believe in his Mormonism. Or, more likely, he just generally doesn’t give a fuck.

          • Malaclypse

            which is why Willard’s willingness to mouth the quasi-Randroid propertarian individualist rhetoric of today’s GOP is particularly bizarre.

            I’ll argue against this. While the social structure is all-encompassing, it reinforces the idea of individual (male) achievement. Prosperity -> leadership roles in church. Church leadership -> highest exaltation in afterlife. Desire for exaltation -> conformity to church teachings. Conformity -> Weberian asceticism. (Asceticism plus relentless insecurity) -> Weber’s “Protestant Ethic” thesis on steroids, as it were.

            • Incontinentia Buttocks

              Well, I certainly wouldn’t argue with you about Mormonism, Mal! As you present it, LDS’s individualism is largely limited to male heads of households…but so’s the GOP’s if you look at all closely.

              • Malaclypse

                LDS’s individualism is largely limited to male heads of households

                Women can’t even enter the Celestial Kingdom unless their husband calls their Secret Name to pull them through.

          • Lee

            I’d argue that Ultra-Orthodox Judaism is more communitarian than Mormonism but less so than the Amish if only because they create entire neighborhoods and live in apartment complexes. They do not send their kids to non-Ultra Orthodox institutions and engage with the outside world less than the Mormons.

  • Logistics

    Real or not, this expression of Mitt can actually get a lot of votes. It’s critical that the frame of this story remain “Mitt screwed up”; Americans will vote for an a$$ hole but they won’t vote for an incompetent loser. If the frames is successfully moved to “Mitt can now come clean and speak the truth about the losers holding us back,” the 99% of people who don’t see themselves as losers but are looking to blame someone for their lot might just come out to vote for the next Republican daddy a$$hole.

  • R. Porrofatto

    When the government generates a huge surplus by raiding the Social Security Trust Fund (which ballooned through enormous payroll tax increases initiated by St. Ronald Reagan), George W. Bush said “It’s your money” and proceeded to “give it back” mostly to the people who didn’t contribute to it in the first place.

    But people living on Social Security and disability, receiving income from contributions they made which really is their money, are moochers.

    According to the IRS, in 2009 six of the top 400 with an average income of $202 million paid no federal income tax at all (and the rest had a tax rate around 16%). So there are six more people in that 47%, and we can probably add one more: Mitt Romney. But I guess we’ll have to see those other tax returns to find out. Hahaha.

  • Anonymous

    In a recent poll, 64 percent of Americans said corporate misconduct helped bring about the current economic crisis.

    And 81 percent of respondents said the government has not done enough to stop corporate wrongdoing.

    Wish we had a candidate pledging to address this issue, even if we all cynically knew it was just meaningless campaign rhetoric. But then it doesn’t seem as though it’s actually going to be necessary.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.

      That’s from Paul Ryan’s RNC speech. Be careful what you wish for!

      (Though it’s another sign that, while neither major party is anywhere near adopting actual populist attitudes toward corporate power, leading Republicans feel a lot more comfortable with populist rhetoric–however hypocritically deployed–than leading Democrats do.)

      • jeer9

        Serves me right for not watching either of the conventions, though even by Ryan’s standards that’s quite a whopper of insincerity.

        (That was me above. For some reason our new updated school computer program returns to blank and won’t retain my pseudonym.)

  • Joe

    I would love to hear Colbert talk about what he really thinks about this stuff sometime.

    Guy is great. After this satire, he has some guest on (like the head of Harvard talking about Civil War dead) and advance knowledge that way.

    Of course, kudos too on his writers.

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