Political Animal


April 28, 2012 11:55 AM Romney advises broke, about-to-be-unemployed college students: “just borrow money from your parents!”

By Kathleen Geier

Back in 2008, I used to argue that Sarah Palin didn’t really exist — that she was actually an incredibly elaborate Tina Fey performance art project, an Andy-Kaufman style hoax. Because, seriously — Palin was so staggeringly vapid that it stretched credibility that she could be for real. It almost seemed more likely that she might be an over-the-top parody of a certain kind of blissfully idiotic, all-American wingnut, than that she was an actual person.

I often have similar thoughts about Mitt Romney. A surpassingly perfect villain for our times, he appears to come straight from central casting as the slick, shifty-eyed C.E.O. who’s fixing to downsize your ass — and implement his evil scheme for world domination while he’s at it. The G.O.P could not have run a more astonishing incarnation of the self-parodying cluelessness of the 1 percenters if they tried. For all practical purposes, it’s as if the the top-hat-and-tails-wearing Monopoly guy was their candidate.

Think I’m exaggerating? The Mittster’s latest Richie Rich moment from the campaign trail has him regaling an audience of economically anxious college students with some swell advice on how to succeed in business: just be like his “friend” sandwich shop entrepreneur Jimmy John, and get your parents to bankroll the costs of a start-up! Hey, that sounds easy — why didn’t I think of that?! Here’s Mittens:

This kind of divisiveness, this attack of success, is very different than what we’ve seen in our country’s history. We’ve always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.

Among other things, I love the way Romney frequently drops the names of his fellow plutocrat friends, in what appears to be a disastrously misconceived attempt to impress his audience with his (nonexistent) street cred. The man seems to lack the most rudimentary empathy gene — it’s that pathological. I eagerly wait the scene in the movie he rips off his human mask and reveals the terrifying cyborg alien that dwells underneath.

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • Max Bramel on April 28, 2012 1:00 PM:

    Ah, Kathleen, I do so enjoy your weekend posts for us!

  • desertflower on April 28, 2012 1:14 PM:

    Let's not forget this!

    Yes, indeed. JUST the kinds of folks that Mitt thinks are wonderful.

  • RSA on April 28, 2012 1:15 PM:

    I like your posts, too, Kathleen.

    I eagerly wait the scene in the movie he rips off his human mask and reveals the terrifying cyborg alien that dwells underneath.

    Or you could just put on the right kind of sunglasses.

  • c u n d gulag on April 28, 2012 1:17 PM:

    Right now, Conservative IT experts are desperately trying to download an "Empathy" program into the MITT2.012 cyborg.

    But sadly, no Conservatives they know have any empathy they can cut-and-paste into him.
    You can't download what ain't there in the first place.

    Btw - this is right in line with MRS MITT2.012, who told people how poor they were while MR MITT2.012 was finishing school, and how he had to sell some stocks his father had given him to make ends meet. Yes - STOCKS!

    Now, why didn't I think to borrow money from my parents, or sell some stocks my Dad had given me?

    Like a dumbass, I worked 15-30 hours a week a Sears, waited and bussed tables, bar-tended, taught two classes in a Maximum Security Prison, and was a bouncer at clubs and bars, to work my way towards getting my BA - which is why it took me 5 years.

    Oh, wait!
    I just remembered, Mitt and Ann, why I didn't borrow some money from my parents, or sold any stocks they'd given me.

    It had a little to do with the fact that THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY MONEY TO BORROW, OR STOCKS TO SELL!!!

    I think instead of trying to find some empathy to download, they should just disable his speech mechanism until after the election.

    Tell people he's got laryngitis, or something.

    That's got to be preferable to showing everyone every time he talks to them, that he's got 'foot-in-mouth' disease.

  • Roddy McCorley on April 28, 2012 1:24 PM:

    Not a cyborg - an avatar. Mitt Romney is an avatar of money. He is money made flesh and given human form.

  • SteveT on April 28, 2012 1:30 PM:

    I can't wait for Willard to tell an audience that black kids who want to go to college should work harder to get a basketball scholarship -- because, after all, it's in their blood.

    It speaks volumes about this country that this clueless, soulless . . . individual is polling above 30 percent.

  • Sister Artemis on April 28, 2012 1:55 PM:

    I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the guy who casually tossed out a $10,000 bet, and thinks of his $375k speaking fees as not all that much money, would honestly believe that most people's parents have a spare $20k laying around to invest in start-up that's likely to fail.

    Let's see. Last time I (sadly, at 50+ years old) had to borrow money from my mom, I needed around $1,000, and she generously scraped together $700 for me. Undoubtedly, it took a lot more out of my mom's life to come up with a small loan for me than it would take the Mittster to finance the entire luxurious lives of his children. And I don't really mind that he has that ability; like most of us tuning in on Romney's wealth-gaffes, we'd just like the guy to put the lives of real people into his perspective, particularly as he's looking to govern us.

  • artsmith on April 28, 2012 1:59 PM:

    Borrow money from my parents? You mean the parents I loaned money to (while working full time to go through college) to help them out when my father was unemployed?

  • RepubAnon on April 28, 2012 2:00 PM:

    Hey, college students, worried about jobs? Just follow the example of George W Bush, and have your parents buy you an oil company to run - or maybe a baseball team. Problem solved!

  • exlibra on April 28, 2012 2:16 PM:

    It's a pity that the poor rich boy never had a chance to live the more "normal"/"average" life for even a short period; he might have been better able to understand how the rest of the people (it used to be "the other half", but is now closer to 97%) live.

    The summer of '69, the (Polish) government, in its wisdom, sent all of us "kid elites" (otherwise known as "university students") into various workplaces for the summer, to learn "how the other half lives", and take us down a peg. I landed at a produce factory, in the middle of nowhere, culturally. Hated it, especially the 6AM shift (I'm a night owl; the 10PM shift was just dandy). But the object of the exercise was achieved when I overheard a conversation between two local women. They were discussing their husbands and their usefulness (or not). One, bragging about hers, said: "He cooks dinner for us. Every day, except Sunday. Sunday, we have meat, so I cook that". I nearly stopped breathing in amazement. At my house, we bitched when we couldn't have meat three times a day, 7 days a week! My perspective was thus changed, for life, in a scant minute.

  • ZakAttack on April 28, 2012 2:18 PM:

    Like Montgomery Burns trying to win Miss Congeniality. Only clumsier.

  • Elizabelle on April 28, 2012 2:22 PM:

    I think a lot of students' parents have already started small businesses themselves.

    Because they lost their middle class jobs in the last round of "rightsizing."

  • JackD on April 28, 2012 2:26 PM:

    Mitt's clueless remarks remind me that there is something to be said for gated communities: if the Mitts of the world are in there, the rest of us don't have to be around them.

  • biggerbox on April 28, 2012 3:02 PM:

    I don't think he's a cyborg, but I seriously do suspect he may have Asperger's Syndrome, which is an odd affliction for a politician, who are usually more adept than most at reading nonverbal cues and empathy.

  • Kathryn on April 28, 2012 3:08 PM:

    It's hard to fathom that what Romney said about borrowing money from your parents or starting a business was planned and not another off script moment such as the cookie comments or the severely conservative governor moment but it's too much detail to be that. One has to conclude many on the Romney team are as lame as he and that's reason for celebration.

    TCinLA... Thanks for tip on captcha.

  • R on April 28, 2012 3:38 PM:

    It's pretty clear that Romney & Co. define success strictly in monetary terms (by which metric the Teacher of the Year, Hannah Salwen (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/opinion/24kristof.html), and Mother Theresa are all failures). How odd that he said "attack of success." I guess he meant "attack on success." You know, that "attack" where someone points out the unfair advantages you've had and the people you've stomped on by, say, paying them minimum wage without benefits in a sandwich shop and then fighting any effort to unionize.

    Anyone want to analyze what "attack of success" might mean here? Is it a W-style cognitive limitation, or some sort of Freudian slip?

    Nice to see you again, c u n d gulag.

  • j on April 28, 2012 4:34 PM:

    You have been away far too long, don't do it again please, great to see you here again.

    Did anyone read an article (in the Washington Post I think, well I think pigs will fly - they told the truth that the Republican Party was to blame for politics today and all the gridlock - how about that!!!

  • Jason on April 28, 2012 5:51 PM:

    I borrowed $1,200 from my parents so we could make our mortgage payment a few months ago. Not sure if I'll be able to pay them back this decade. Not sure if they'll be able to retire before 80. Is this what Romney's talking about?

  • j on April 28, 2012 6:09 PM:

    Romney's top adviser came out today and now he wants to claim that the auto bailout was Mitt's idea and that Obama was following Mitt's advice.

    That was the etch a sketch man!

  • Kathryn on April 28, 2012 7:14 PM:

    Yes J, it was all Mitt's idea, think they've floated that one before in a less prominent forum. The Audacity of Lying should be the Romney campaign banner. Of course, there is that pesky oped he wrote entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt". Romney was opposed to the government giving money to General Motors, he wanted private investors to provide the money. NO PRIVATE investors were willing to do do because of the severe Bush recession, which Romney and spokes people conveniently ignore. Mitt Romney is a serverely lying sack of sh-t!

  • Texas Aggie on April 28, 2012 7:25 PM:

    Jokes and snark aside, I think maybe biggerbox may be onto something. It's a thought that occurred to me as well some time ago, and maybe it ought to be looked into. I don't think that someone who lacks the neuronal wiring necessary to appreciate the position other people are in should be in any position of authority, not even in the military.

    The other possibility that occurs to me is that he is a high functioning psychopath. That is another category that absolutely lacks any ability for empathy. And it is something that also needs to be looked into.

  • Doug on April 28, 2012 7:37 PM:

    FDR had Eleanor, who liked to start off her mornings in DC with an hour of horseback riding, when sho could manage it. Mitt has Anne, who ALSO likes to ride and has made something of a career of doing so.
    However Eleanor, after her morning ride, would visit soup kitchens in DC, take Franklin's place at events, make speeches and meet people, many of them NOT in politics. She'd get out of DC for some of those events, see what was happening in the country and give reports to Franklin on her return.
    Anne goes to horse shows and herself competes in dressage. I have no doubt she, too, goes back and reports to Mitt what's happening in THEIR country.
    Notice the difference...

  • schtick on April 28, 2012 8:46 PM:

    I think what Mittsy was saying when he made the comment about kids borrowing money from their parents for college, is that only kids with parents that CAN float them big loans should go to college.

  • Zorro on April 28, 2012 11:26 PM:

    What you say is true... and, yet, I fully expect to see him elected President this November, and not in a close election, either.


  • smartalek on April 29, 2012 12:21 AM:

    Zorro, it might (or not; you might be a closet Publican, or a heighten-the-contradictions cynic -- not that there's anything wrong with that) please you to know that both InTrade and the Iowa Electronic Markets, the futures markets that claim (ymmv) historically accurate predictive ability w/r/t all kinds of real-world outcomes (but especially political ones) are now showing the probability of an Obama win at abt 60%.
    I haven't been following Iowa too long, but InTrade's been steadily saying 60% for quite a while.
    That's also consistent w/ a post I saw recently (thought it was here, but mebbe it was one of the other blogs I follow regularly) saying that the heavy hitters among the Publicans have essentially all but given up hope on Mitt's taking the Presidency, barring another catastrophic economic or terrorist event -- both of which they're all but explicitly praying for, tho (obvsly) not-for-attribution.

    btw -- any1 have a clue just what we're sposedta do when the captcha text is upside-frickin-down? Cuz I can now attest that what doesn't work is copying it as tho it were right-side-up.

  • Equal Opportunity Cynic on April 29, 2012 1:20 AM:

    smartalek: It doesn't matter what you put in the half of the CAPTCHA with the scanned book excerpt. Just focus on getting the warped synthetic one with the black shape in the background correct, and type whatever you feel like for the other one.

  • James M on April 29, 2012 1:34 AM:

    Great posts everyone (And welcome back cundgulag. I have to admit) it also took me months to figure out what your name meant!LOL).

    As the poster above, I just can't see how Mr. Romney could become president, barring some disaster. Most of the liberal pundits are being cautious and predicting a close election, but I think there is real chance of a blow-out (10 pt. + win for BO).

    - Women
    - Pretty much all minority groups
    - students
    - Mr. Romney apparent complete lack of genuine personality

    However, don't tell anyone outside the list this! We have to act like it is dire straits right up to election day to avoid complacency.

  • Jesse Fell on April 29, 2012 5:12 AM:

    Henceforward, shall we say of the cerebrally torpid that they are "think as Mitt"?

  • bob h on April 29, 2012 6:06 AM:

    Mitt has Harvard degrees, but he couldn't go before any top tier university crowd without the risk of ridicule. So he goes to Otterbein?

  • Martina on April 29, 2012 1:01 PM:

    Mitt Romney is relentlessly wooden and phony. I didn't think any major national politician could be as wooden as Michael Dukakis or as "flexible" as John Kerry, yet here we are presented with a guy who has the worst attributes of both Dukakis and Kerry.

  • exlibra on April 29, 2012 1:03 PM:

    So he goes to Otterbein? -- bob h, @6:06 AM

    It's my considered opinion that he went there because its name suggested to him that there might be great rewards there. It almost sounds like Other Bain, doesn't it?

  • rick on April 29, 2012 7:46 PM:

    Poster boy for the Dilbert Principle. "Leadership is nature's way of removing morons from the productive flow"

  • roshan on April 29, 2012 10:28 PM:

    Didn't Mitt give his son (tag, chad or whatEverTheHellTheirNameIs) about 100 million (evaded taxes on it by making it a gift or something)? That's enough money not just to start a business but to effectively retire at 30!

  • Sean Scallon on April 30, 2012 7:15 AM:

    "borrow money if you have to from your parents,"

    More than likely spoken from personal experience.