Congratulations, Ann Romney! You have just joined the ranks of Romneys Who Speak Awkwardly About Money.
The interview was going well. Ann Romney has a powerful narrative, and Neil Cavuto was listening compassionately. She has struggled against breast cancer and multiple sclerosis, and it has taught her compassion and lent her a warm, generally relatable presence on the campaign trail.
But the trouble with nine-plus minutes of interview is that you can generate twelve seconds of sound bite, and then no one cares about the Lessons of Compassion because they are too busy repeating your excerpted statement that “I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing.”
Yes, quite interesting.
Whether or not Ann Romney considers herself wealthy, most of America does. Twitter erupted in mockery. Of course Ann doesn’t consider herself wealthy! Her household staff doesn’t wear livery! How could she be wealthy? Wealthy? Have you heard of a fellow named Sheldon Adelson? Wealthy? She hasn’t bought new boat shoes in over a month! Wealthy? With just three sets of monogrammed oyster spoons? Wealthy? Without a single Picasso?
Americans don’t mind rich people. We would love to be rich ourselves. What we mind is when people insist that they know Just What It’s Like To Be Us because once, they had to wait six minutes for the chauffeur to find them.
Context is everything. Unfortunately, in context, the remark is not that much better. Ann had just spoken at length about having “horses in every port.”
I’m sympathetic to the bawling that “really, you comb through an interview about Ann’s struggle with multiple sclerosis in order to find the one ten-second clip that paints her in a bad light? Shame!”
But the interview consisted of Cavuto’s repeatedly asking whether it was a problem for voters that the Romneys were too perfect.That seems almost to be begging for trouble. It turns out that the Romneys are not off-puttingly perfect. It’s the occasional fits of astounding tone-deafness, mostly around money, that are off-putting.