Just what is the deal with Mitt Romney ? He’s become the Republican candidate for president, but even Republicans have to admit there’s something wrong here. His campaign has been troubled with gaffs that are drawing a lot of attention, but that’s not so much the problem as the nominee himself.
It’s not just that he flip-flops. Heck, find a politician who hasn’t changed a policy position during his/her career. It’s the strange way he simply presents the new position as though it were always his position, as though he has no past, no record to contradict him.
He’s very reclusive about his taxes, releasing only two years of returns when other politicians, such as President Obama and Romney’s own father, George, have released a dozen years or more. We’re told that what has been put out is “All you people need to know.”
He has gathered about him contributors and supporters who are the richest people in the country, unapologetically courting their favor with policy ideas and happily accepting millions in donations. He seems to feel no need to play the “common man”, something which has been a major tactic in politics for decades.
But most offputting is his affect, his presentation. He’s been called stiff and out of touch, robotic and cold. But that’s not what I’ve noticed most. The key to Mr. Romney is that all too common look of sadness and confusion that we see on his face. When he’s asked challenging questions or booed at the NAACP convention, the look on his face is of someone who literally doesn’t understand what’s going on–Like an actor who’s playing his part as expected but finds the rest of the cast is on another page. Sometimes I almost feel sorry for him when I see that look and wonder why someone hasn’t taken him aside and explained all this.
It can’t be because he’s stupid. No matter what else you make think of his career, you don’t make millions, become a Republican Governor of Massachusetts and run a successful Olympics by being stupid. The problem isn’t this man’s intelligence. It’s his culture.
You see, we miss the point by seeing Mitt Romney as simply a rich man. A man with money, a lot of money. But that’s an insufficient explanation. Plenty of men have run for president and been rich and successful. But none of them have presented the strange public persona of Mr. Romney. So it isn’t just money.
You see, Mitt Romney isn’t a rich man.
He’s a feudal lord.
If you want to understand Mr. Romney, how he sees the world and why he often seems so bewildered, watch “Game of Thrones” on HBO. It presents the adventures of characters in a mythical feudal world with lords and knights and peasants and wars and battles for succession. This is the world of Mitt Romney.
Mitt’s father made his own fortune, working his way up from the bottom, but Mitt was born to wealth and privilege. He’s the prince who has lived a life of nothing but privilege. His education was the finest that money could buy in schools where he only mixed with his social equals. He has never done without or held a job which required him to mix with his “inferiors”. Even when he did his two-year stint as a Mormon missionary, it was in Paris where he lived in a palace with servants.
I don’t think Mitt is intentionally cruel, any more than Stannis Baratheon on “Game of Thrones”. He simply has experienced the world a certain way; he lives in a certain social milieu surrounded by people who value the things he has been taught to value, behaves according to the ettiquette of the upper-class, doesn’t give any thought to those who serve–because in his world it is their job to serve and his to be served. He follows the rules of his class and expects others to follow the rules of theirs. His is a world where everyone has their given place and expected duties. Some rule, some are ruled.
This is the man who identified waiters at a fund-raiser as “middle-class” because he has no real idea what middle-class is. He just knows it’s the folks somewhere below him. It’s all a big blur. Stannis Baratheon probably wouldn’t be able to identify the difference between a tinker, a tailor or a luthier. They’re all the same: the others who provide him what he needs when he needs it.
This is why Mitt looks so confused and sad so often. He doesn’t understand why the others aren’t playing their part. People aren’t supposed to be questioning him about his off-shore accounts or taxes. They’re supposed to believe what he tells them. They aren’t supposed to make a big deal about his many houses and cars and jets. He’s a lord, he’s supposed to have them, that’s the way things work. He shouldn’t have to be answering all these questions and re-explaining things he’s explained once. He’s the prince and he’s entitled to the Throne because it’s the destiny of one of his class and background.
The idea that a feudal lord is always mean and sadistic and cruel isn’t true. I doubt Mitt is any of those things. When he fired people during Bain Capital operations, he was doing what he was supposed to do, like a lord sending troops into war. It was his job to give the orders, their’s to take the field. Like the feudal lord, he collected the winnings when he won and didn’t worry about the body count afterwards.
Because they weren’t really people. People with whom he can connect are those who share his values, his upbringing, his training in proper behavior, in how to dress and speak. He doesn’t hate the peasants or enjoy seeing them suffer, he doesn’t think about them. Suffering, getting fired, being poor is their lot, their place in the order, as his is to be lord.
He sees himself as entitled. It is the way his world is built.Remember, this is a man whose religion teaches him that ultimately he will become like God (theosis). He Is Entitled.
If you look at Mitt as a character from “Game of Thrones” his behavior, his cluelessness about common matters, his casual way of treating animals and people, his jokes about wealth, cars and $10,000.00 bets make sense. They aren’t gaffs or goofs, but the simple acts of a man from a world very few of us experience or understand. He’s almost a time traveller, a stranger in a strange land. From this point of view, his behavior is perfectly logical.
Don’t assume you know who he is and wonder why he does what he does.
Watch what he does and it will tell you who he is.
Lord Mitt of Romney, heir to the Iron Throne of Westeros.
Oh and where does this leave Obama ? Well, he’s Tyrion isn’t he ? He was born in disadvantage and worked his way up to walk among the Lords and Ladies, speak their language, wear their colors, but never forgetting what it was like to not be one of them. He sees the peasants and workers as people, because he remembers what it was like to be kept outside, to not be accepted, not be entitled. (Like the character of Tyrion, he may have come from simpler roots, but he has chosen to be a Lord, to live that life, to walk in that world. Let’s not forget that.)
His appearance marks him as an outsider in the eyes of the Lords, something for which they’ll never forgive him, for which they’ll never fully trust him. They will always see him as Other, Alien, Cursed, Imp, Demon.