By JONATHAN WOLFMAN
It may be, as the common media voice now has it, that Mitt Romney’s London Olympic stumble is about a man who just doesn’t like politics enough to be nimble enough not to trip continually over his tongue.
I don’t see that.
This candidate’s taking his Brit hosts to task in the run-up to The Games is not about a lack of agility. It’s about a consuming arrogance. It’s about his assumption that because he has it, he has a clear call to tell others how short of the mark they fall and about what’s owed him, and in every area, those of great consequence and those less so.
Of our closest ally’s efforts, the man says London’s difficulties with security guards and threats of border staff strikes [are] obviously… not something which is encouraging. It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out.
On April 17 in western Pennsylvania at a campaign-created backyard-ordinary-couple-picnic, all Romney had to do is say that the food was fine and that he appreciated his host’s efforts. In fact, mistaking a family-owned bakery’s cookies for chain-brand, mass produced ones, he scolded the couple:
“I’m not sure about these cookies. Did you make those cookies? You didn’t, did you? No. No. They came from the local 7-Eleven, or wherever.”
He refused to sample one.
His arrogance outed itself, too, in his contented smile when his wife, Ann, at his side, said – and she will say it again – “It’s our turn.”
This is not about his wealth or about the wealthy. The man’s father was a wealthy man of no apparent arrogance.
Nothing about these statements are out-of-character or merely flat-footed.
“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”
“I’m not concerned about the very poor.”
“I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back.” [...on the American auto industry, despite having written a New York Times op-ed in 2008 titled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt," in which he said if GM, Ford and Chrysler got a government bailout "you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye".]
“I’ll tell you what, 10-thousand bucks? $10,000 bet?” [attempting to make a wager with Rick Perry during a Republican presidential debate to settle a disagreement about health care]
“I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” [speaking to unemployed people in Florida.]
While not necessarily arrogant in themselves, these statements could be made only by a man who does not care if he appears as arrogant-of-character as these statements’ sloppiness and Daisy/Gatsby carelessness make him seem to be:
“I’m not familiar precisely with what I said, but I’ll stand by what I said, whatever it was.”
“I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.”
The arrogance will no doubt roll out in dozens of additional, unforced and unexpected contexts, great and small. It’s who the man is.
Let’s not allow Daisy Buchanan, her arrogance, to occupy the Oval Office.
Jonathan Wolfman blogs at http://open.salon.com/blog/jlw1.
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