Political Animal


June 16, 2011 12:35 PM Romney jokes about being ‘unemployed’

By Steve Benen

For a guy whose awkward sense of humor keeps raising eyebrows, this incident in Florida this morning probably won’t help Mitt Romney’s reputation.

Mitt Romney sat at the head of the table at a coffee shop [in Tampa] on Thursday, listening to a group of unemployed Floridians explain the challenges of looking for work. When they finished, he weighed in with a predicament of his own.

“I should tell my story,” Mr. Romney said. “I’m also unemployed.”

I don’t want to sound humorless about this, and I’m sure Romney was just trying to be charming. Indeed, comments like these may very well be a deliberate self-deprecating strategy because Romney strutted around New Hampshire on Tuesday as if he’d already won the presidency, and no one likes an overconfident jerk.

But when an extremely wealthy person jokes to people who are actually struggling about being “unemployed,” it rankles. Indeed, Mitt Romney became extremely wealthy in a way that seems relevant to this discussion.

“You see, Romney made a Mittload of cash using what’s known as a leveraged buyout. He’d buy a company with ‘money borrowed against their assets, groomed them to be sold off and in the interim collect huge management fees.’ Once Mitt had control of the company, he’d cut frivolous spending like jobs, workers, employees, and jobs. […]

“Because Mitt Romney knows just how to trim the fat. He rescued businesses like Dade Behring, Stage Stories, American Pad and Paper, and GS Industries, then his company sold them for a profit of $578 million after which all of those firms declared bankruptcy. Which sounds bad, but don’t worry, almost no one worked there anymore.

“Besides, a businessman can’t be weighed down with a bleeding heart. As one former Bain employee put it, ‘It was very clinical…. Like a doctor. When the patient is dead, you just move on to the next patient.’”

Does Mitt Romney really want to joke about being “unemployed”?

To be fair, there’s at least a kernel of truth to it. Mitt Romney hasn’t worked a day in over five years — he can afford to kick back for a half-decade without breaking a sweat — but if memory serves, Romney had a job. During his brief tenure, he struggled with his duties, received poor performance evaluations, and his employers were ultimately relieved to see him quit.

Maybe Romney should mention this at his next diner stop.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Todd for VT House on June 16, 2011 12:45 PM:

    "You know how it is: you play golf so much, you get wicked bored, then you try to enjoy your mansion on the Vineyard, but it's getting so crowded there, and you think, 'damn, I wish I had a job!'"

  • John B. on June 16, 2011 12:47 PM:

    Someone, like Steve, should delve into Romney's past and calculate just how many workers he's fired and how many family members on average he's thrown into the safety nets his party is trying to shred, like unemployment, Medicaid, and WIC.

  • st john on June 16, 2011 12:48 PM:

    Unfortunately, most of the stories about politicians here lack context or follow-up. So, Mitt made a comment to a bunch of unemployed people at a gathering and then what...? Did someone challenge him? Ask how he managed to "survive" on no job and no income, or unemployment? Without context or follow-up, these stories do nothing other than getting us readers to comment on our own suppositions. Either follow-up or don't bother.

  • zeitgeist on June 16, 2011 12:49 PM:

    This. This, on so many levels, this.

    Hopefully the folks in the room - presumably mainly Republicans - now wouldn't give him the time of day. And the R's say Obama doesn't seem to care about the unemployed?

    The hard part is deciding which approach to use. Humor about hardship? Or so rich and out of touch he can take 5 years off work? Or that his "business credentials" include laying off people like you? Or that Mitt is unemployed because he was fired from his last job by voters who didn't like his work?

    So many good attacks, not enough time. This is why Obama will be re-elected, by nearly as large a margin as last time.

  • rikyrah on June 16, 2011 12:49 PM:

    I know you're telling the truth, but this asshole is the core of who Mittens is. He was born between 3rd base and home plate and thinks he actually earned whatever he's gotten in life.

    and yes, it needs to be pointed out in as many political ads as it takes that the way he got rich was by FIRING PEOPLE.

  • c u n d gulag on June 16, 2011 12:59 PM:

    Maybe Romney should have hugged one of the unemployed guys and said, "Well, at least now, between the two of us, we're WORTH MILLIONS!!!"

    What and asshole.

  • susanthe on June 16, 2011 1:00 PM:

    This comes on the heels of Mitt pretending that a waitress grabbed his ass at a diner in Derry, NH. A multimillionaire mocking women whose hourly wage is less than $2.93 an hour.

    His clueless, privileged, arrogance will be an ongoing factor in his campaign.

  • Brenna on June 16, 2011 1:02 PM:

    I don't remember Mitt being so vacuous the last few elections he's run in. He just seems devoid of empathy, or something. Doesn't connect. I guess I wasn't paying attention. Could be a real problem if he becomes the nominee.

  • st john on June 16, 2011 1:14 PM:

    So, we have speculation all over the place and bashing Mittens, but nothing about the actual event after his statement. Apparently Republicans and his followers have no problem with his crass insensitivity.

    I just read the report from the link on this blog, and nothing...People just joked with him and laid back. No anger, no outrage. Just nothing.
    No wonder they're unemployed. Oops! there I go blaming the unemployed for their plight. Does that make me a Republican?

  • James at home on June 16, 2011 1:17 PM:

    The democrats will have to do to Romney, what the republicans did to John Kerry...

    Just lie.

  • KurtRex1453 on June 16, 2011 1:34 PM:

    MItt Romney, spokeman for The Plutocracy, is a jerk.

  • Jim7 on June 16, 2011 1:37 PM:

    Mitt's dad fought off a hostile takeover at AMC. Mitt's grandfather went broke 3 or 4 times. Mitt obviously doesn't care.

  • 2Manchu on June 16, 2011 1:37 PM:

    If I remember correctly, back in'08 Romney said that his sons campaigning in Iowa was the equivalent of them serviving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

  • MsJoanne on June 16, 2011 1:38 PM:

    On Twitter? Check out #UnemployedLikeMitt

  • mellowjohn on June 16, 2011 1:55 PM:

    i'd like to start a discussion among my special educator colleagues: is it possible that mittens could become our first asperger's president?

  • Chabuka on June 16, 2011 2:20 PM:

    Romney there's a difference between being unemployed with NO income...and being unemployed with a very nice income, millions in dividend checks,..(that you pay only 15% in taxes on) a** hat...!! You can B.S the tourists...but we LIVE (it) here

  • Gregory on June 16, 2011 2:32 PM:

    no one likes an overconfident jerk

    Are you kidding? Judging from their history over the last, oh, couple of decades, I'd say that Republicans love them.

  • bumpercrop on June 16, 2011 2:38 PM:

    Such a tool, jerk, try hard, douche bag, etc.....

  • navamske on June 16, 2011 3:04 PM:

    "Indeed, comments like these may very well be a deliberate self-deprecating strategy because Romney strutted around New Hampshire on Tuesday as if he’d already won the presidency, and no one likes an overconfident jerk."

    Just ask Senator Joe Miller (R.-AK).

  • pebble on June 16, 2011 4:52 PM:

    Mitt's joking "rankles"? No, it infuriates and disgusts. As the spouse of a long-term unemployed person, I can attest to the anguish of the problem he finds so easy to laugh about. What an absolutely clueless, unsympathetic little man. He doesn't care about the workers he's talking to, he's just using them for a photo op to advance his own ego-driven ambition. Someone this callous is absolutely unfit for office.

  • Frank Zappa on June 16, 2011 6:13 PM:

    Hey, Elder Romney that's not very Christian-like 'er a... Mormonosity-like if, I do say so myself.

  • zeitgeist on June 16, 2011 8:23 PM:

    indeed, Frank Zappa. to paraphrase Parker, Stone and Lopez from "Book of Mormon," hasa diga Romney.

  • Joe on June 16, 2011 8:45 PM:

    We need a candidate who is willing to expose the FEDs money-printing scam.

  • Kuji on June 16, 2011 9:34 PM:

    Leave Mitt alone. I heard he will trade Class A GE stock for food.

  • Gregory zurbay on June 17, 2011 12:11 PM:

    Well, what the fuck, Mitt tries to identify with the unemployed, and THEY ACCEPT IT?

    I seem to remember that business men could be respected because they created something of value that was of benefit to everyone. Republicans have re-defined business man and now even someone who steals your investment in life is worthy of praise and respect. Bullshit.

    How does this happen? Are all these dolts so anti liberal that they would much rather be poor in the presence of a wealthy scion of rape and pillage business than support the people who have established every social benefit available to them?

    Here we have someone who truly is a BUSINESS man, in that nothing but money matters to him. This is something to celebrate? What is the societal damage? How many laid off? How many dead after having no health care? How many homes lost? How many kids never made it to college? What is the toll in drink and drugs? What would Jesus Do? I think he would have taken Mitt to task.... But don't hold your breath.... The far right has the fix in, even where Jesus is concerned.

    You might fault Obama for not solving the republicans' damage resulting from lax regulation of mortgage companies and banks, but he didn't fire anyone.

    Contrast that with Mitt's legacy - of which he is so proud - he worked damn hard to eliminate those jobs and put that left over cash in his pocket - wow what sacrifice!