Conversations for Quiet Rooms: Romney’s Distance From America

Governor Romney has given us a hint about how he thinks of middling America, “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.”  [DB] [WaPo] and more at [Crooks & Liars]

What is it that should be discussed in quiet rooms?  Among “those things” not discussed in polite society gatherings are horrific injuries and traffic accidents, bodily functions, graphic description of surgeries, other people’s religions, and other people’s salaries.  The time honored list includes books (but not too controversial), theater (but not too controversial), art (but not too controversial), motion pictures (but not too controversial) and family (but not too controversial).  Generally speaking that which might be considered embarrassing or unpleasant is off limits in polite circles.

Would Governor Romney relegate conversations about income inequality trends and the decimation of the American middle class to “quiet rooms?”

“We” as Victoria Regina might have said, “Do not discuss the middling classes and their problems.”  Fox hunting is an acceptable topic of polite conversation, labor conditions in steel mills are not.  Fine art is acceptable, declining real income for tradesmen is not.  Business success is an acceptable topic, just don’t bring up the fact that when Bain Capital Management invested $30 million in Dade International they demanded $100 million in management fees, for a net investment of -$70 million. [C&L]

This is awkward, on one hand we have a Republican presidential candidate trying ever so hard to exude his sympathy for middle America, and on the other indicating that raising the subject of income inequality trends and the economic woes of the ‘lesser’ classes is boorish, and argumentative.  And, Heaven Knows, we can’t have polite conversations when someone is being argumentative.

How many times might the Romney household have discussed whether to purchase school clothing at a thrift store because the younger ones will grow out of clothing before they wear it out, and some savings might be had in the process?  How many times might the Romneys engaged in a polite conversation about the merits of searching the Wednesday grocery ads for coupons?  How often might they converse about selling the second car?  These, and other topics, are common fare among households wherein topics like private school tuition and gasoline prices and vehicle mileage HAVE to be discussed.

However, Governor Romney’s suggestion that we refrain from public discussion of  topics such as  social mobility, or economic distress, or outright economic decline, indicates a social distance from the middle America he wants so badly to govern.   Or, as Queen Victoria said, “The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.”   [Quotes]

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