Poor Mitt Romney.
House Speaker John Boehner recently observed, “The American people probably aren’t going to fall in love with Mitt Romney.” Trying to remove his foot from his mouth afterward, he insisted that this remark was his way of pointing out that the election was a referendum on the current president. But never mind that.
We might have gotten over the curious incident of the dog on the car-top. Those awkward remarks about the heights of Michigan trees and even the high school hazing incident — they might fade gently into the past.
But there’s one thing standing between Mitt Romney and the voter at every turn. It’s Mitt Romney’s Money. It’s the wrinkled green elephant in the room.
Whenever we are sitting down with Mitt, getting to know him, Mitt Romney’s Money comes barrelling in. It’s always there, tapping its leather-soled foot.
If you want a real persecuted minority, look no further than the Excessively Rich. There are fewer and fewer of them every year. And you never see them anywhere. They are forced to barricade themselves behind luxurious boxwood fences, miles away from civilization, and to travel everywhere in inconveniently large dark cars with tinted windows. Everywhere you turn, they are being maligned, by “The Great Gatsby” to whatever it is that Joe Biden just said.
And in the thick of it is Mitt Romney’s Money.
We might like Mitt, but Mitt Romney’s Money is tiresome. It hides in difficult-to-reach places. The only time we secure money in difficult-to-reach places is when we drop change between the cushions of the couch. His money has been to nicer places than ours has. Overseas!
We like people to make money. It shows that they are worth something. We like people to reap the fruits of their honest labor. But once their money attains a certain size, it takes on a life of its own. Ben Stein’s Money had its own TV show for a while.
And whenever we are sitting down, cozying up to Mitt, murmuring, “John Boehner said we might not fall for you, but that just shows what John Boehner knows,” Mitt Romney’s Money comes in and starts coughing pointedly and clearing its throat at us.
“Just pretend it’s not here,” Mitt says, pathetically. “Focus on me.”
But you can’t. Mitt Romney’s Money has sat down next to you on the couch and wants to show you pictures of its trip to Switzerland and the Cayman Islands.
“Do we have to do this now?” Mitt asks, trying not to get frustrated.
Mitt Romney’s Money whistles for its Olympic dressage horse. It mounts and begins cantering around, flinging lobster forks everywhere and using “summer” as a verb.
“Please,” Mitt murmurs. “Not in front of the voters.”
Paul Krugman shows up and starts yelling at Mitt Romney’s Money, which once said something rude to him at a dinner party, or something. Chaos reigns.
“Please,” Mitt yells at his Money. “Stop it. Stop doing this! Every single time! You’re impossible!”
It sulks away, several portraits of Benjamin Franklin falling listlessly from its limp shoulders.
“Wait,” Mitt says, “Come back. I didn’t mean to yell.”
After all, his ability to earn money is a selling point. He’s a businessman! He’s a wealth creator! True enough. He’d prefer if Mitt Romney’s Money strolled onstage, waved politely and withdrew to whence it came. But people keep asking it questions and tugging it to the center of the stage and taking its picture in unflattering lights and trying to profile it in Vanity Fair.
Enough is enough. Money might be speech, but sometimes you just want it to stop talking. It certainly doesn’t buy love. And it keeps ruining the mood.