SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
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”
Flor Arely Sánchez had been in bed with a fever and pains throughout her body for three days when a July thunderstorm broke over the mountainside. She got nervous when bolts of light flashed in the sky. Lightning strikes the San Julián region of western El Salvador several times a year, and her neighbors fear storms more than they fear the march of diseases — first dengue, then chikungunya, now Zika. Flor worried about a lot of things, since she was pregnant.
Late in the afternoon, when the pains had somewhat eased, Flor thought she might go to a dammed-up bit of the river near her house to bathe. She is thirty-five and has lived in the same place all her life, where wrinkled hills are planted with corn, beans, and fruit trees. She took a towel and soap and walked out into the rain. Halfway to the river, the pains returned and overcame her. The next thing Flor remembers, she was in a room she didn’t recognize, unable to move. As she soon discovered, she was in a hospital, her ankle cuffed to the bed, and she was being investigated for abortion.
Average duration of a Japanese prime minister’s tenure since August 1993, in months:
Brain shrinkage has no effect on cognition.
An Indianapolis fertility doctor was accused of using his own sperm to artificially inseminate patients, and a Delaware man pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing his former psychiatrist.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”