I was in the barbershop the other day when an important, life-affirming lesson was demonstrated, right before my eyes. Two men were arguing the finer points of some delicate issue–maybe it was about sports, maybe it was about politics, whatever, it was something whose answer could be discerned rather quickly and definitively.
One man challenged the other: “I’ll bet you $100,” he said. “Charlie (the barber) will hold the money,” he continued as he removed a wad of bills from his pocket, quickly counting out $100 worth. The other man demurred. He never took out any money, and tried to save face by loudly changing the subject.
That’s sort of how it is in most barbershops. Despite the decreased value of U.S. currency, $100 is a defining amount, which still measures most people’s true confidence in this, that, or the other…their most strongly held beliefs. That’s kind of how it is for most of us–the 99 percent of the population.
On the other hand, I’ve long felt that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney–the vulture capitalist who is among the top 1 percent of the richest 1 percent–is out of touch with the realities that most Americans face. He attended college, earning two degrees from Harvard University, without ever having to work a single day. His expenses were paid by the interest from his trust fund. He did not even have to draw down on his principal. He was able to make it on the interest.
As an example, in one of the endless Republican presidential candidates debates that was held last December, Gov. Romney challenged sitting Texas Gov. Rick Perry to bet $10,000 when the two men disagreed about a finer point over healthcare policy. As the British would say, that’s pretty “cheeky.”
When the conversation turns to sports, Romney is quick to remind listeners that he’s pals with the owners of a couple of sports teams. Most of the rest of us feel we can boast if we can say we saw an athlete, here or there.
And speaking of our neighbors overseas, to show that he was patriotic and “jes’ plain folks” like the rest of us, Romney told an audience in February that his wife Ann drives “a couple of Cadillacs”–emphasis on American made there.
Which brings us to the candidate’s wife, who’s known as “Miss Ann,” to the hired help, or just “Ann” to fellow members of the Junior League, or to other women members of this or that fancy country club.
Miss Ann–who’s probably never been inside a supermarket except for a staged photo opportunity–Miss Ann became a celebrity on the campaign trail when Democratic Party strategist Hilary Rosen criticized the Republican doyenne for having “never actually worked a day in her life,” when her husband tried to establish her as an authority on how ordinary women think and feel, in response to criticisms that the Republican Party has been waging “war on women.”
Mrs. Romney was on her feet with glee, declaring that she “made a choice to stay home and raise five boys.” She insisted–and it’s true–that rearing children really is work. Democrats were chagrined. Rosen apologized; the White House gave Rosen the Shirley-Sherrod-thrown-under-the-bus-treatment, hoping all the time that the incident would just blow over. And it did, for a while.
But a leopard cannot change its spots. The Romneys are who the Romneys are. They are super-wealthy Brahmans, who endowed those five sons with a little bundle–$100 million tax free–and their profligate personal wealth has come back to haunt them already. When the happy couple appeared on a morning television interview, Miss Ann was wearing a garish silk tee shirt by designer Reed Krakoff whose “most abiding aesthetic interest is the use of design to convey privilege.”
The shirt with an ugly image of a yellow falcon was bought off the shelf in some fancy boutique for a mere $990. That’s right. She spent $990 for one ugly tee-shirt. And she wore it on national TV.
I’ll bet you $100 that the wives (or concubines) of all Mitt Romney’s team owner pals, and other vulture capitalist friends, all recognized Miss Ann Romney’s ugly $1,000 tee-shirt right away, which is why she wore it…so “certain people” would notice it, and think her clever for having worn it. Those people are not women who rear children without the help of maids and nannies and cooks, but rather are women just like her, who have never worked a day for pay in their lives, and who don’t have a clue about how the rest of us feel about anything.