Imagine if Thurston Howell III and C. Montgomery Burns were real people. Then imagine they were attending a fundraiser for Mitt Romney in the Hamptons. Then imagine they spoke to reporters about why, exactly, they want to see President Obama defeated.
It turns out, you don’t actually have to imagine any of this, because yesterday, it actually happened. The multi-millionaire Republican – dodging questions about his controversial shell corporation in Bermuda, hidden cash in the Caymans, and inexplicable Swiss bank account – thought it’d be a good idea to spend the day in the Hamptons, attending several posh fundraisers with the hyper-elite, including an event at David Koch’s home.
I couldn’t make up stuff like this if I tried.
A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.
“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies – everybody who’s got the right to vote – they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income – one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”
I’m not sure which of those sentences is the most ridiculous. Let’s call it a tie.
The L.A. Times report quoted another wealthy Romney donor saying, “It’s not helping the economy to pit the people who are the engine of the economy against the people who rely on that engine.” Apparently, asking the rich to pay the same tax rate they paid in the Clinton era is making wealthy people feel put upon. (Matt Yglesias also highlighted “the absurd level of self-regard among the winners in the modern American meritocracy.”)
The New York Times report quoted Ted Conklin, the owner of the American Hotel in Sag Habor, speaking from inside his gold-colored Mercedes, whined that the president “is a socialist.” At his wife’s urging, Conklin then boasted that a Hollywood executive was staying on his 75-foot yacht because his hotel was fully booked.
I don’t generally get nauseous reading the news. There are exceptions.
It’s one thing to know Romney, worth a quarter of a billion dollars, is a hopelessly out-of-touch elitist, who enjoys the support of other hopelessly out-of-touch elitists. But the larger political context almost reads like a Dickens novel on acid – the “nails ladies” are uneducated, so they’re inclined to vote for the president, despite his tendencies to hurt rich people’s feelings.
Keep in mind, under Obama, these hyper-wealthy Romney donors are doing great. Their stock portfolios are strong; they still have plenty of servants and “nails ladies”; and their tax burdens haven’t increased at all. Despite the brutal recession that began in late 2007, the folks who showed up to shower riches onto Romney have fared extremely well in recent years.
But they’re not happy. There’s a Democratic president who’s too busy championing the interests of the middle class to think about their feelings, so it’s time to elect Mr. Car Elevator, who may not appeal to the riff raff, but who “understands how it works.”
What does “it” refer to? I haven’t the foggiest idea, but I’m sure if I was allowed into one of these donor’s country clubs, someone would try to explain it to me.