About 20 years ago, I often said, “You can say anything about Clarence Thomas. No matter how vile, false, or even racist, you can say it about Thomas, and get away with it. The culture permits it. It’s open season on Clarence Thomas.”
Many years later, I said something similar about Sarah Palin. And I can almost say something similar about Mitt Romney. What I have heard since Election Day is astonishing. Romney has been turned into something he has never been.
The Left has been atrocious, because, why wouldn’t it be? It’s my fellow conservatives I’m talking about. Instant revision and reviling is natural after a loss, I suppose. But the number done on Romney has been galling, to me.
I propose to make a few notes . . .
A few weeks ago, I settled down to read a column by Iain Martin, the excellent British journalist. I did not get past the second paragraph. Because in that paragraph he wrote that the likely explanation for the American election result was that “the Republicans had blundered by choosing as their candidate a plutocratic chap called Mitt Romney who, having been born into great privilege and luxury, seemed to be out of touch with the concerns of most voters.”
Romney is not plutocratic, he is democratic — a democratic thinker and politician through and through. A democratic spirit. His proposals were designed to help millions of others enjoy some of the success that he and his family have enjoyed.
Romney is classically, almost stereotypically, American — at least as we used to conceive Americanness. The reference to him as “plutocratic” is not just lazy but moronic. I would expect it from my fellow Americans — the rot, the idiocy, set in here long ago. I have higher standards for the Brits.
As for Romney’s being “out of touch with the concerns of most voters,” I can tell you that he was in touch with my concerns. And those of many others, I gather: He got between 47 and 48 percent on Election Day.
But that is not most voters, to be sure . . .
A footnote: A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a new book that, in the initial pages, described Ron Radosh as “an anti-communist ideologue.” I could not go on with the book. Maybe I missed something and should have persevered. Maybe I would have been rewarded. But my thinking was, anyone who could describe Ron as “an anti-communist ideologue” is either too ignorant or too dishonest to be worth the time.
Over and over again — day after day — my fellow conservatives have been saying that Romney scanted the “middle class.” He paid too little attention to the “middle class.” He offered nothing to the “middle class.”
It has been maybe the chief refrain on the right since Election Day.
First, “middle class” is such a bogus term — meaningless, obnoxious, cheap. It is a term of Marxists and demagogues and that whole Bidenesque world. My fellow conservatives are using it constantly. I expect them next to refer to the “petite bourgeoisie.” That is hardly a less respectable term than “middle class.”
Second, Romney talked about the “middle class” until he was blue in the face. I know, because I regularly knocked him for it.
After one blessed debate during the Republican primaries, a conservative pundit said, “Romney didn’t even mention the word ‘middle class’!” This was supposed to have been a terrible failure — practically a crime against humanity. Romney was talking to Americans as Americans, not as classes. I praised him for it.
But he did not often make that mistake again — the “mistake” of not saying “middle class.”
Do you remember this moment during the primaries? Romney said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. There’s a safety net there, and if it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich — they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the heart of America, the 95 percent of Americans who are right now struggling.”
I guess he meant the “middle class.” In this instance, he called them “the heart of America,” or “the 95 percent.” Anyway, conservatives went absolutely nuts. They wet their pants. “Romney said he doesn’t care about the poor! Eek, eek!” He had committed a terrible gaffe, according to the media at large. Romney was always being accused of committing “gaffes” when he said perfectly sensible things — such as the above.
So, what did Romney offer the “middle class”? I’ll tell you what: He offered to avert financial collapse. To do something about the debt and the deficit. To reform entitlements. To reform the tax code. To foster the conditions in which economic growth occurs. To help put people back to work. To save the frickin’ country.
That’s not program enough for the “middle class”? What does he have to do, enter each of their homes and bake them muffins? Swab their floors? (Actually, knowing him and his neighborliness, he would do that.)
Saving the country — that should have been enough. And if it wasn’t good enough for the “middle class,” then the “middle class” is an ass.