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Some have begun to detect a literary current in Mitt Romney’s seemingly mindless ramblings—a stream-of-consciousness that reflects, perhaps, the romantic wistfulness of the middle-aged man facing his own mortality. Or maybe that’s just me, being a middle-aged man and everything; my co-blogger Jack, for his part, tends to think of Romney’s gaffes as perfect near-haikus:
Profound, no? But I don’t think taking them on their own gives Romney enough credit for his Harvard education—I believe each of his gaffes is actually a subtle allusion to either great literature or our popular culture. To wit:
The Love Song of W. Mitt Romney
“Ha, ha. We’re in the stretch, aren’t we? Look at those clouds. It’s beautiful. Look at those things.”
Stopping by Mitt On a Snowy Evening
“I love being in Michigan. Everything seems right here…the trees are the right height. The grass is the right color for this time of year, kind of a brownish-greenish sort of thing. It just feels right.”
“When you have a fire in an aircraft there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no— and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem.”
The Great Romney
“Property up there is, I’m sure, very expensive. And we got to her driveway—it was at least a mile long, up and up, it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, how in the world?’ And then we came to the home, and it was like San Simeon, you know, the Hearst castle. It was this beautiful home with gardens, manicured gardens, and a pool and a topiary and so forth.”
He had come a long way to this topiary and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city—in Ohio, or Virginia, or Florida—where the dark math of the electoral college rolled on into the election night. Romney believed in the green bills, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. The White House eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will race more money, win over more of the 47 percent . . . and one fine morning—
So we idle on, Cadillacs stuck in a car elevator, borne ceaselessly back down to the roundabout.
“We have been very transparent to what’s legally required of us. But the more we release, the more we get attacked, the more we get questioned, the more we get pushed. And so, we have done what’s legally required. And there’s going to be no more tax returns given.”—Ann Romney
More from Kevin Baker:
Political Asylum — November 9, 2012, 3:59 pm
A dispassionate president disavows the liberal idea.
Political Asylum — November 8, 2012, 6:03 pm
Can the G.O.P. genuinely change its attitude toward minorities and women?
Political Asylum — November 5, 2012, 9:42 pm
An election-eve elegy for the country???s former guardians of sanity
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature