Mitt Romney: Talk about income inequality only in “quiet rooms”

F. Scott Fitzgerald opened his short story “Rich Boy” with the following paragraph:

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.

Watching Mitt Romney’s campaign for the Republican nomination proves Fitzgerald’s point. Yesterday Romney was interviewed by Matt Good Morning America. Here’s the video, followed by a transcript.

Matt Lauer: When you said that we already have a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy, I’m curious about the word envy. Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?

Romney: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare. When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 percent versus one percent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent, you have opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.

Lauer: Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?

Romney: I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.

Never in my life have I heard a more naked expression of the conservative philosophy that the rich are better than the rest of us and that they alone should make important decisions. Romney clearly believes that we proles must be protected from the knowledge of how lowly we really are. Romney actually believes that discussions of government tax policies that make the rich richer and the poor poorer should not be discussed in public–such poor taste! These topics must only be talked about in “quiet rooms,” presumably in grand mansions where only the very rich and powerful can hear.

No doubt Romney is expressing a common opinion among those of his class. The good news is that Romney has so little self-awareness that he can’t seem to avoid expressing his elitist opinions in public. Does he think that the proles don’t watch TV? Or does he think we’re too stupid to understand what he’s saying?

13 Comments on “Mitt Romney: Talk about income inequality only in “quiet rooms””

  1. Nailed it, bb. I had just replied to peggysue on your Morning Reads about Romney’s comment on his vision for our military. It just struck me as braggadocio, pompous & what I considered Board room/Country Club speak. But you & Fitzgerald got it correct: it’s the elite, uber-wealthy, landed gentry speak. Guess we need to start curtsying in his honorable presence.

    Just an aside: someone said on TV in the last few days that Romney had to take lessons in how to put on a pair of jeans. Truly, I laughed out loud.

  2. northwestrain says:

    That F.Scott Fitzgerald quote — I’ve been trying to remember that for days — bits and pieces would float to the top of my trivia filled brain and then quickly hide before I could get the computer out for a google search.

    Thanks you!!!!

    There’s another book — the Great Gatsby.

    Mittens is simply devoid of empathy.

  3. quixote says:

    “Does he think that the proles don’t watch TV? Or does he think we’re too stupid to understand what he’s saying? ”

    That would be “b.”

    • northwestrain says:

      His attitude sort of reminds me of men talking at women — ’cause only the guys go to war — or go out and earn a living etc. The wimmin don’t understand where money comes from — only the guys understand technical subjects like that.

      I’m guessing that this is part of his Mormon world view — women need a man to get to heaven and their temple marriage ceremony is symbolic of the man pulling the woman up to heaven. (years ago a Mormon raised woman left her husband and the LDS church and wrote a book detailing all the secret rites of the church). Actually Mitten remarks aren’t that different from other patriarchal males and their attitude toward the masses.

  4. peggysue22 says:

    Very apt quote, BB. Fitzgerald was right and was drawing from the world he saw around him. I picked up a clip from Al Jazeera several months ago, where the reporter was interviewing new Harvard grads. One of the kids on tape expressed pretty much the same thing: We’re the idea people, he said. We’re the ones who make things happen. We make the money. Everybody else needs to get out of the way, so we can do what we were made and trained to do.

    That’s paraphrasing but that was the basic gist. My reaction? You little snot!

    Unlike Romney’s maxim of only speaking about these matters in ‘quiet rooms’, this kid went on tape to expose the attitude of the privileged–Get out of the way. We’re the people that matter.


  5. tle says:

    “Does he think that the proles don’t watch TV? Or does he think we’re too stupid to understand what he’s saying?”

    Or does he perhaps understand that what we think doesn’t matter? Who runs the country — bright, ambitious, intelligent men and women who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps? Or useless second-to-fifth generation inheritors, who never had to work for a damn thing, not grades, nor income, nor respect, nor promotions?

    Why does Mitt Romney need to hide his contempt for the majority of the human race? The vaunted “voters” of our country no longer participate in decision-making of any form. For the most part, they mark their ballots as they are instructed by the media or by their religious leaders, and pretend to themselves that they are making a difference. When the only options you will consider are two spokesmodels put up by the same old group of leeches, you aren’t making a difference.

  6. ralphb says:

    Gingrich as the messenger sucks but the message needs to be heard.

    Gingrich: ‘So-Called Conservatives’ Are Attacking Me Because I Want an Accounting of Wall Street Bailouts

    “Now this rattled a number of so-called conservatives who say to challenge where the money went and to challenge what deals were cut is to be anti-free enterprise. I think just the opposite. I think when you have crony capitalism of politicians taking care of their friends, that’s not free enterprise. That’s just back-door socialism, in which the rich get all the money and the rest of us get left with all the debt. I’m not going to back down or be afraid to say, we the American people have the right to know. And any candidate for president has an obligation to tell us. And I think the idea that the extraordinarily wealthy institutions are gonna somehow bring enough pressure to bear to say, ‘You better shut up,’ tells you just how bad off the system has gotten.

    “No one tells the American people they don’t have the right to learn what has happened in their very own country. And that’s what’s at stake.”