Tuesday Night with Ann and Mitt

Good Evening everyone!

Tonight’s post is dedicated to Ann and Mitt Romney. I have some more background on Ann Romney’s “struggles,” as a follow up to Dakinikat’s earlier post. And, since Mitt Romney will essentially wrap up the Republican presidential nomination tonight, I’ve collected some advice for Mitt Romney from various sources.

As everyone knows by now, Ann Romney is a stay-at-home mom. And she has lots of homes to stay at home in. But Ann is more than a mom. She has a hobby that is very important to her. A very expensive hobby. Her passion is collecting and riding dressage horses.

Now I don’t want to be cruel about Ann’s expensive hobby, because she says it has helped her to deal with her multiple sclerosis; but, let’s face it, very few multiple sclerosis sufferers can afford the Ann Romney cure.

After the notorious Hilary Rosen remark about Ann Romney not working a day in her life, Dave Weigel wrote a piece called The Ann Romney Wars, in which he linked to some articles about Ann’s hobby. I hadn’t heard about it before.

First up, a NYT piece by Jodi Kantor from 2007: The Stay-at-Home Woman Travels Well. Kantor writes about Ann’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis in 1998 and her efforts to treat the disease.

Though she used steroids to combat her initial attack, today Mrs. Romney takes no medicine for her disease, instead relying on alternative therapies such as horseback riding — she calls it “joy therapy”— to keep herself well. But doctors say that only medication, which patients often resist because of unpleasant side effects, slows the long-term progress of the disease.

Ann had ridden horses as a child–like her husband, she comes from a wealthy family.

During her rehabilitation from her initial attack, she took up dressage, going from a novice so weak that she could barely sit in the saddle to a winner of top amateur medals. She sometimes enters professional-level contests, against the advice of her trainer, Jan Ebeling. “She wants to measure herself against the best,” he said.

Dressage is a sport of seven-figure horses and four-figure saddles. The monthly boarding costs are more than most people’s rent. Asked how many dressage horses she owns, Mrs. Romney laughed. “Mitt doesn’t even know the answer to that,” she said. “I’m not going to tell you!”

Ann Romney in 2008

For more detail on Ann’s dressage career, read this article from 2008: Dressage Makes Ann Romney’s Soul Sing. And here’s a more recent article from March, 2012: For Ann Romney, Horses are a Lifeline.

She has competed in amateur rounds of major dressage tournaments. She has funded dressage horses and riders of Olympic caliber. She and her husband, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, have at least part-ownership of four warmbloods (as the kind of horse often used for dressage is known), according to a campaign spokeswoman.

“My horses rejuvenate me like you can’t believe” she told Fox News last week. “They give me balance. They give me energy. I think it’s because I love them so much.”

How nice for her.

Dressage demands agility and finesse — and money….Dressage, whose roots date to ancient Greece, got its name (and its pronunciation, dress-AHGE) from a French term that means “training.” According to the U.S. Dressage Federation, “its purpose is to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability and willingness to work making him calm, supple and attentive to his rider.” Unlike other types of holdings, dressage horses are living investments whose value can tumble with the wrong turn of a hoof.

The Romneys, through a campaign aide, declined to tally how much they spend on dressage, saying, “We are not required to disclose this information.” But some of their animals cost more than $100,000, and the Romneys continue to sink tens of thousands of dollars into year-round training and feeding, plus veterinary bills.

Ann learned how to use horseback riding for healing at a very exclusive clinic

run by an accomplished trainer and German emigre named Jan Ebeling, owner of state-of-the-art stables north of Simi Valley at a ranch known as the Acres. Ebeling and his wife, Amy, hosted Romney often. “I would probably come out once a month to once every six weeks for about a week,” Romney recalled.

The Acres is home to a 40-stall barn, indoor arena, dressage ring and obstacle courses. There are steep and dusty trails on the state-owned acreage nearby. Trusted James Herriot-type veterinarians and farriers and a young German assistant tend to the animals and take them through their paces; other horses, nursing injuries or strains, are pampered in the barn.

On Ann’s birthday, Donald Trump threw a party for her and provided a cake that celebrated her love of horses and dressage.

The cake, created by celebrity chef Buddy Valastro, of the TV show “Cake Boss,” is topped with a sugar-coated Romney riding atop a horse standing in a field of green frosting. Romney is an avid horseback rider and often goes riding to soothe the symptoms of her multiple sclerosis.

These two people really are not like you and me. Is it so cruel to point that out? I really do have a hard time feeling sorry for Ann. She and Mitt desperately need to learn how to deal with the wealth issue. At HuffPo, English professor Mark Cassello offered some free advice:

It is not Romney’s wealth that makes him unable to relate. It is his incapacity to acknowledge the privileged position from which he began. It is admirable that he worked his way up from being an “entry level” consultant to an executive in the Boston Consulting Group. Unfortunately, this achievement will not resonate with the real grinders who build, fuel, and deliver America. For them, being a consultant is as foreign an experience as choosing a car elevator for a new house in La Jolla.

If the question about being too rich to relate is asked again (and it will be), Romney should answer this way: “I understand why people might feel that way about me. Most Americans do not have parents who are governors or corporate executives. I was born in a very fortunate financial situation. But the more important, and more American, story is how my family labored for generations to provide me with the opportunities that have blessed my life. As president, I want to bring opportunity to a new generation of Americans, so they will feel empowered to pursue the dreams they have for their families and for their communities.”

It’s good advice, but somehow, I just can’t imagine Romney having the humility to say something like that.

Charles Pierce, who knows the Romneys better than most journalists, offered some suggestions for Romney on his path to dumping the Tea Partiers and tacking away from the far right agenda he’s been pushing during the primaries. Unfortunately, I can’t quote the whole thing, but here’s a taste:

God, you people are saps. You didn’t see this coming? I pandered and I pandered, and then, every night, I went back to my hotel room, stuck my fingers down my throat, and then had a good laugh. You think that whole “Etch-a-Sketch” thing was a staff blunder? Honkies, please. Could I have signaled more clearly that your audience with me was over? Smedley? Show these lovely people waving their Bibles and their rubber fetuses the door, will you? Lovely to have met you. Really. We must do this again some time. Say, if we’re all really lucky, and I’ve always been luckier than you poor deluded hayshakers, maybe the summer of 2015? It’s a date. We have a lovely parting gift for you.

Me.

Haven’t you goobers caught on yet? I am running for president because I am supposed to be president. That is the essence of my political philosophy. That is the basic tenet of my fundamental ideology. I should be president because I am rich and handsome and my great-granchildren are already financially bulletproof to the point where, if my pals in the financial-services “industry” crash the economy completely, and animal hides become the medium of exchange again, my great-grandchildren will have more pelts than anyone else, and they will rule the world. I should be president because I should be president. And because…

I’m Mitt Romney, bitches, and I’m all you got left.

Now that’s more like it! There’s lots more at the link.