I had planned to skip over the revelations about Mitt Romney's career as a high school bully
. Initially, this struck me as one of those non-story stories, like Elizabeth Warren's pseudo-Indian-ness, or Barack Obama's boyhood experience as a canine connoisseur, or the inconsequential crap said about Sarah Palin back in 2008.
I just didn't care.
But now that this narrative has been rattling around my head for a day, I can't help concluding that this is not a non-story; it actually means
something. And what it means is this: Mitt Romney is every sneering, arrogant, self-absorbed rich kid you ever wanted to wallop during your school days.
It makes perfect sense that this guy made money at a place like Bain. Bain never practiced capitalism: It practiced anticapitalism. Romney never made anything except money. He found a way to profit from strip-mining companies. That was his whole act. It never occurred to him to use his money to benefit humanity, either through charity or by creating a new company that made a product he cared about. Near as I can tell, the only worthwhile thing this guy ever did was organizing the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics -- and he probably took on that job only to further his political ambitions.
Hell, even H.L. Hunt -- who detested charity -- used his millions to fund the John Birch Society. The man had beliefs. Odious beliefs, but beliefs.
We can't say that about Mitt Romney. A lot of politicians are empty suits, but Romney doesn't even have lining. The guy is running for president for no reason beyond a psychopathic solipsism
And everyone knows it. Even Republicans know it.
Julius and Augustus Caesar were egomaniacal creeps, but they also had ambitions and ideals that reached beyond the great Cult of I. By contrast, the Julio-Claudian Caesars who followed were, for the most part, unbridled sociopaths -- just that simple, just that dull. Power for the sake of power. "Down you go; up I go. I will slaughter your brother and sleep with your sister just to prove I can do such things."
Mitt Romney reminds me of the later Caesars. I never would have voted for his father George, but he was not a narcissist. He administered HUD with zeal, if not wisdom. (Interestingly, he had to deal with a scandal involving mortgage-backed securities). He genuinely cared about volunteerism. He disliked the president (his boss) because he knew that Richard Nixon didn't believe in anything other than Richard Nixon.
Mitt Romney is Richard Nixon without Nixon's endearing insecurities. If Nixon had had the misfortune to be born handsome, he might have been Mitt.
Is Obama any better? Let's face it: He too is a grade-A narcissist. Maybe that's a necessary condition for anyone who seeks the gig. Still, he too has shown endearing insecurities, mostly about his racial identity. A lot of conservatives bash him for the sturm-und-drang
of his twenties -- all of that "Who am I?" stuff. To me, that period of questioning is the only part of the man's life story that I like
. It's human. Back then, he was concerned about matters that went well beyond the tired business of Getting Ahead. Young Obama is gone, probably forever. I'd like to think that we might catch a glimpse of him during a second term, but I'm too realistic to bet on the possibility.
Even Dubya -- yes, Dubya
-- has his endearing insecurities. The rivalry with Jeb. The irritation with being in his Dad's shadow. The substance abuse. The segue into fundamentalism. (All fundies are insecure.) And despite his sneering and condescending personality, George W. did have those occasional moments when he came that
close to confessing that he knew full well he was not up to the job. All of these things came together to create a man who, though impossible to like or admire, is still recognizably human.
There is no Mitt. There's nothing there.
If he does have a "there," he showed it back in school. The man was and is an arrogant, thuggish brat lacking any deeply-felt ambition beyond Power for the sake of Power. The Mitt Romney of that time is the Mitt Romney of our time. That's who he is