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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:
Appreciation — June 26, 2014, 8:00 am
From Johnny Cash to “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”
New York Revisited — June 19, 2014, 8:00 am
And how it foretold the 2008 financial crisis
Estimated percentage of U.S. gasoline consumption that occurs during traffic jams:
In India, 1.8 million female children were estimated to have died between 1985 and 2005 as an indirect result of domestic violence against their mothers; the boys of abused mothers were not at increased risk of death.
Vanilla latte and lemon pound cake continued to be the best-selling items at the Starbucks at CIA headquarters, where baristas do not write customers’ names on their cups.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”