On this July 4, Independence Day, we celebrated that grand experiment in human progress and evolutionary biology known as self-government. In other words, we engaged in our yearly ritual of driving up to our cottage in New Hampshire -- after deciding against the beach house in San Diego - and posing for the pictures of eager reporters just after mounting our jet ski and slicing our way through the bubbling wake of Lake Winnipesaukee.
OK, you got me, I'm not talking about me. I'm talking about Mitt Romney. So here's a question -- is Mitt Romney insane?
I mean, what is it about Massachusetts politicians who run for president? Ever since President John F Kennedy (and his brothers), who connected with the common man like peanut butter and chocolate, we've had a series of guys run for chief executive from the Bay State who couldn't steal candy from a baby. Until Mitt, they were all Democrats -- Michael Dukakis, Paul Tsongas and John Kerry -- and would form the most aloof rock band one could ever create. Let's face it, there must have been times Bob Dole looked at these guys and thought: "Damn, they're boring."
But Romney has clearly decided he is going to turn it up to 11. In fact, I'm somewhat convinced at this point that Romney is actually a creation of Jon Stewart's The Daily Showjust for the gags. It isn't like the jet ski pose is the first I'm-richer-than-you thing that ole Mitt has done. I mean, who says stuff like this?
"I like being able to fire people" ... "I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners" ...
"I bet you $10,000" ... "I am actually the stodgiest parts of the DNA that dripped off George Clooney in a Devito/Schwarzenegger, Twins-like experiment."
OK, one of those might not be true.
But here is some truth - who climbs onto a jet ski for a photoshoot when they're being attacked in TV ads for outsourcing jobs and pilloried in the press for the fact that Bermuda, Grand Cayman and Luxembourg are not just vacation sites for them, but also for their money? Was a tank not available? And don't you just get the feeling that if it came with a tax write-off, Romney would have probably already outsourced his IRA to a safety-deposit box on Uranus?
I know, as F Scott Fitgerald wrote, that "the rich are different than you and me" - I have observed Thurston Howell III on old episodes of Gilligan's Island just like the next guy - but what possesses someone who knows they're going to run for president to hire their very own lobbyist for their third house on a private beach in Southern California, to pressure town officials to change zoning rules so they can add 8,000 square feet and a car elevator to this monument to the carried-interest tax loophole? Wouldn't you also think twice before sending your money off to more exotic locales than a foreign service officer, if you knew you'd have to win the votes of people in a future election whose hereditary fortunes were slightly less than that of, say, the spawn of Bill Gates or Baron von Richthofen?
"I'm thankful for Mitt Romney. For the laughs he provides and the daily reminders of what his America would look like for 99 per cent of Americans."
The only thing I don't understand is what also stopped Romney from resisting changing his name to Bilderberger? Clown move.
Americans are a fair people. Tea-Party adolescents may stomp their feet and flail around about how Democrats or "libruls" are committing "class war" and are "envious" of people such as Romney, but those are just talking points. Most people, in poll after poll, believe in capitalism and its rewards, but also don't think that those who got rich off of, and were protected by, our public investments in roads, bridges, universities, military, police, courts, safe food, clean water, etc and so forth have no obligation back to the country that created the atmosphere in which they were allowed to flourish.
Romney is simply a caricature of everything that is wrong with the United States economically at this moment in our history, and again and again he proves he hasn't the slightest clue of any of it. Self-awareness, thy name is most certainly not Mitt.
I'm not complaining, however. In fact, I'm thankful for Mitt Romney. For the laughs he provides and the daily reminders of what his America would look like for 99 per cent of Americans (hint: no dressage horses for you, but worse jobs prospects and a bigger tax bill than Mitt, his cronies, his lawyers, his accountants...).
I hope he keeps riding his jet skis for the klieg lights, packing his family pets on the car roof - and maybe even come up with a few new tricks. For example, we haven't yet seen him play polo by riding on the backs of homeless people. Or add a giant mechanical mouth to each of his houses so they can eat all the poorer houses in the neighborhood. Just think of the possibilities.
But he's going to need some serious material to keep topping himself.
In fact, I've gotta go write some of this stuff down so I can send it to off to his image people, stat.
Follow him on Twitter: @CliffSchecter
This column first appeared at Al Jazeera English
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