Mitt Romney and His 'Top Hat Capitalism' Problem
Maybe you did this skit at a summer camp. Or maybe you saw Dudley Do-Right play it on the “Rocky and Bullwinkle Fan Club.” The villain tells the damsel, “You must pay the rent.” She wails, “But I can’t pay the rent.” This goes on as the tension mounts before Dudley Do-Right jumps in and says, “I’ll pay the rent,” and the damsel sighs, “My hero!”
“Curses!” says the villain. “Foiled again.”
I bet when Mitt Romney was growing up that he rooted for Snidely Whiplash. Why, he must have wondered, must the landlord be the villain?
Mitt Romney tries desperately to come across as an optimistic guy, but every time he opens his mouth the bitter resentment of wealthy entitlement spills out. He is a Top Hat Capitalist who roots for the landlord who evicts, the banker who forecloses, and the factory owner who closes shop and leaves town.
Back in October, Romney went to Nevada, the state with the highest foreclosure rate, and opposed helping homeowners stay in their homes. “Don’t try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom,” he told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
In November he went to his native Michigan and said he would not have bailed out Chrysler and General Motors. “My view with regards to the bailout was that, whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go,” said Romney.
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, called that “a knife in the back.” Even current Governor Rick Snyder, a Tea Party favorite, was appalled. “It wasn’t just one or two companies at risk, but the entire national supply chain,” Snyder told the Detroit News. “Losing that would have had a devastating impact on the economy.”
Now Winning Our Future, the super PAC supporting Newt Gingrich, has released a documentary called “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” that portrays Romney at Bain Capital as Simon Legree for the corporate raider set. This, says, Romney, is an assault on capitalism itself.
“President Obama wants to put free enterprise on trial,” said Romney in New Hampshire. “In the last few days, we have seen some desperate Republicans join forces with him. This is such a mistake for our Party and for our nation. This country already has a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy. We must offer an alternative vision. I stand ready to lead us down a different path, where we are lifted up by our desire to succeed, not dragged down by a resentment of success.”
This attempt to Occupy South Carolina will surely fail. It’s too early in the story for the bit players to stop the bad guy. Dudley Do-Right makes his entrance later, which means that we have a long summer ahead of us of listening to how much some people must hate America if they want millionaires to pay higher taxes. And by some people, I’m talking about 69% of Americans according to a CNN poll. That no-so silent majority also wants to keep its payroll tax cut. And if you don’t mind, some jobs, though 5% of the country has stopped looking for work, and 20% of the country is either unemployed or underemployed.
Romney is now equating the aspirations of economic survival with his desire not to be picked on. Somehow super rich have become yet another aggrieved class deserving of protection, the Lucre-Americans. These poor little rich people have it so hard, what with all those people who hate America asking them to pay their fair share while working Americans share bus fares.
In New Hampshire, Mitt Romney tried to give a “Morning in America” speech, even lifting the “shining city on the hill” line from Puritan John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon “A Model of Christian Charity.” But his message now equates his record of closing factories and exporting jobs to “the American ideals of economic freedom,” and it comes across as defensive at best, resentful at worst. And if you don’t like it, you’re as un-American and embittered with envy as the President, my friends.
No matter how many times Romney recites the lyrics to “America the Beautiful,” his speeches end up sounding as dour as Jimmy Carter warning the country about a “crisis of confidence.” Romney can flash those white teeth all he wants, but somehow it never looks like that man is really smiling.
© Copyright 2011 Jason Stanford, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.
Jason Stanford is a Democratic political consultant and the co-author of “Adios, Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush.” Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.