Sep 21, 2012

Romney in Wonderland

I’m gonna let you guys in on a little secret. I suck at math.

For years I was told this would be a hindrance for me in life. Now, I realize it means I could run for office on the GOP ticket.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually got a pretty decent score on my math SAT, thanks to my mom and dad, who shelled out big bucks on my behalf for a math-centric SAT preparation class. For six excruciating weeks, I sat through lecture after lecture on formula and strategy, and subsequently managed to raise my abysmal math SAT to a number even higher than the score I received the English language section of the test! Given my tendency to fail at all things mathematical, my achievement was a huge surprise and real a testament to the power pricey prep courses—or, as the Romney campaign would put it, I BUILT IT!

That’s right, on paper I looked like my strengths lay mainly in the field of mathematics. On paper, you’d never have known that, junior year, I was averaging a D+ during the first marking period of Algebra II. I was crushed, my stellar GPA was doomed…until my kindhearted instructor, Mr. E (who also, incidentally, also taught the SAT class) took pity on me and moved me into a remedial section (read: Dumb Math 101), where I managed to maintain an A average until I graduated. I then went on to a top-notch university knowing nothing of calculus, and with an SAT score high enough to satisfy any requirement for me to have to learn it in the future (thanks again to mom, dad, and Mr. E’s awesome prep class). Yep. I. BUILT. IT.

And yet, even my math is better than Mitt Romney’s.

All that aside, I’m not going to go into the mathematical inaccuracies of Romney’s remarks on the recently released tape from his Florida fundraiser, particularly those about the 47% of Americans who are, according to him, both deadbeats and Obama supporters. For one, why would you listen to me, a self-admitted math loser? And besides, the Internet is full of maps, graphs, and charts that articulate the dumbassedness of his accusation far better than I ever could. What I’m mainly concerned with is an exploration of this magical world in which Romney lives, a world where math does not matter, where fact-checkers are the enemy.

Even if he honestly believes in the sentiments he expressed, why would a man running for office in an era when nearly every phone has a record button, voice those sentiments in a public setting? Indeed, Romney has long struggled to combat the out-of-touch, rich-kid persona he’s been accused of having for years. And so I wonder, how could he have acted so stupidly unless he, in fact, is living in some sort of alternate reality most of us cannot comprehend, let alone experience first-hand. I can’t help but imagine that the world in which Mitt Romney dwells is not unlike the world Eddie Murphy explored when he went undercover as a white man back in the eighties:

Or maybe it’s like the world Boots Riley enters when he slips into the realm of Fat Cats and Bigga Fish (at 2:50):

As I watched the video of Romney, I got flashbacks to a time back in my teen years when my very sweet, very WASPy friend Alice invited me to have dinner with her at her family's country club, a club which she informed me, as we waited for the African American waiter to bring our Diet Cokes, did not allow blacks or Jews as members. I’m not sure whether she told me this as a precaution of some sort, or rather, if she did so in an awkward attempt to make me feel special--as though I, the Jewess, were not only chosen by God, but by bigots as well. And while I have never been a practicing Jew, I’m not sure I ever felt so Jewish as I did that day overlooking the golf course, eating chicken with a plum reduction that was served to me by a black man, whose color, like my Jewishness, was decidedly palpable in the warm summer air.

And so, when I watch that video of Romney, I’m taken back to a place where I am again a half-invited voyeur of unapologetic disdain, where I appear as a guest conditionally welcome in an enclave overwhelmingly confident in its entitlement and exclusivity. I’m transported to a land where residents are so comfortable with the rules of their game, that they will frequently let outsiders in, but if only to remind them later that they are guests, employees, anything but equal players on an even field. For those of us who cannot afford $50,000 a plate for dinner, that tape offers a glimpse into Romney’s world, a place where we are frequently topic for discussion, but never allowed to partake in the discussion itself.

Finally, I’d ask you to try to imagine Romney, or any candidate for that matter, making these kinds of remarks in regard to another candidate’s voters. Take John Kerry, for example. Remember back in 2004 when the Bush campaign painted the Democrats as liberal elitists, out of touch with the average American? That year we heard little about freeloading Democratic voters. In fact, judging from the accusations of the 2004 GOP, one would assume that the 48% of Americans who voted for John Kerry were not the parasitic “victims” Romney paints Obama’s electorate to be, but rather wealthy, educated “elitists” who were out of touch with the daily lives and concerns of the average American. In other words, they were Romneys.

When a guy like John Kerry runs for office, we are 47% Harvard graduates. When a guy like Obama runs, we magically morph into 47% welfare queens.

Seem impossible? Not if you've fallen down the rabbit hole, into the Wonderful World of Romney.

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