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Mitt Romney: our King Joffrey?

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“There’s a wild and crazy man inside of there just waiting to come out.” – Mrs. Romney on her husband

I used to watch Mitt Romney and think, “He’ll make a fantastic villain on Dexter.” (Maybe not one to hold our interest for an entire season – he’s no John Lithgow – but definitely a two or three episode arc.) Either that or he could be in American Psycho 3 – yes, there was already a sequel and it starred Mila Kunis – as the new Patrick Bateman: perfectly attired, great hair, then he opens his mouth and it gets weird. Indeed, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign often seems to be less about taking the White House than dropping as many subtle clues as possible he’s actually a serial killer. (I’m almost positive Christian Bale quips, “Corporations are people, my friend” before attacking the hooker with a chainsaw.)

Now I take that back: Mitt Romney is no Patrick Bateman. Mitt Romney is Prince Joffrey. Both born rich and destined for power. Neither with a knack for handling the common man. And each of them with a line that cannot be crossed.

For Game of Thrones‘ Joffrey: You don’t hit the king.

For America’s Mitt: You don’t use blonde highlights.

It’s time to ask ourselves: will Mitt Romney make more sense if we stop thinking of him as a human being… and start thinking of him as character from George R.R. Martin’s Songs of Fire and Ice?

Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones watch the show for reasons lofty (with its numerous major characters, dense plotting, and often quite sophisticated musings on the nature of power, it covers ground that only The Wire previously dared to tread) and less so (you see vaginas frequently). At the beginning of the series, Joffrey is a teenage prince and, like most teenagers both of royal and non-royal blood, he’s an entitled twit. Nevertheless, I thought, “Eh, I’ll give him a chance. After all, this is a show where people evolve in surprising ways and even seemingly monstrous characters are capable of small acts of decency.”

Bad call on my part, y’all. We soon discover Prince Joffrey’s actually been on his best behavior and, once he ascends the throne, reveals himself to have some very strongly held ideas on how a king should conduct himself and tends to express these thoughts through torture and whining. Time and time again on the show, Joffrey makes assertions about how things should be. He expects these standards to be blindly followed, no matter how much suffering they cause.

Turns out Mitt was much the same way when he was Joffrey’s age. While a senior at his private high school, he noticed a younger transfer student (and presumed homosexual) “was walking around the all-boys school with bleached-blond hair that draped over one eye”, which was a “different look than sported by other students.” Seeing this boy, Mitt smiled and said, “It’s nice to see a lonely young man who’s been struggling to fit in here is at last confident enough to express some of his individuality”, then went off to join a Civil Rights march.

Just kidding, it made Mitt cry out, “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” So Mitt got together a group of boys and they ambushed the offender, pinned him down, and then Mitt took a pair of scissors and repeatedly clipped his hair. The young man was, understandably, unnerved. Mitt never got in trouble, though the school was quite strict. (They later expelled the transfer student for the crime of smoking a cigarette; it should be noted the boy stupidly failed to have a father who was the millionaire governor of Michigan at the time, like Mitt’s was.) Many of the other boys were sufficiently traumatized by holding down a defenseless teenager as he begged them to let him go that in the coming weeks and even years they apologized. Mitt himself did not do so but, upon the publication of the story, announced, “I don’t recall the incident but I am seeing the reports and I will not argue with that.”

To recap: during one of the most tumultuous periods of our nation’s history, Mitt decided, “I have just got to do something with those bangs!”, which may be the gayest thing a human being has ever done.

This incident in itself really isn’t a big deal, because teenagers in general are horrific little people and many of them become less intolerable as the years pass. Additionally, it occurred during the 1960s and, if the show Mad Men has taught us anything, it’s that people were stupid back then, with their love of butter and drinking and LSD trips. (Particularly Joan’s cuckolded husband – you’re a doctor and you can’t count to nine months?!?) Even so, it’s hard to read about Mitt’s hairstyling experiment and his complete lack of remorse and not think, “That is so Joffrey, especially the part where he totally fails to learn anything from the experience!”

There’s more. Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton wrote a helpful piece in which he observed the strange phenomenon of Mitt’s forced chuckle during campaign appearances:

“Listen to his laugh. It resembles the flat ‘Ha! Ha! Ha!’ that appears in comic-strip dialogue balloons. But worse – far worse – it is mirthless. Mr. Romney expects us to be amused, although he himself is not amused. Freeze the frame, cover the bottom of his face with your hand, and study his eyes. There’s no pleasure there, no amusement.”

Happily, the Washington Post article notes there has been at least one time when Romney was genuinely full of pleasure and amusement: it occurred when he led a virtually blind teacher into a door. (Get it? It’s funny because the guy couldn’t see the… classic Mitt!)

Mitt Romney has been aggressively seeking the presidency since at least 2006. When his presidential campaign imploded in 2008 – according to the book Game Change, the low point came when he entered a men’s room and discovered fellow candidates John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Huckabee laughing and bonding over how much they disliked Mitt as a person before circle jerking (the book doesn’t explicitly say this, but it’s strongly implied) – he barely skipped a beat, setting his eyes firmly on 2012. Mitt has put out a book, endlessly toured the nation, and spent millions and millions of dollars so we can not only know but like and even love him.

Yet the more we learn, the more distasteful he becomes, as if a mad scientist had watched the 2000 presidential race and mused, “What if I created a man with the entitlement of George W. Bush Jr. and the charm of Al Gore?”

At this point I should note that I in no way mean to suggest Mitt is as monstrous as King Joffrey: to my knowledge Mitt has never been with a prostitute, much less forced one to torture a second. Mitt has also shown himself to be capable of personal growth, as during his campaign appearances he encounters people with all sorts of unflattering hairstyles, yet resists the urge to have staffers pin them down while he shaves them. Finally, he had a much better upbringing than Joffrey, as Mitt is almost certainly not the result of incest.

But it’s worth remembering that before he took the throne, Joffrey was more off-putting than evil and there was, yes, a chance the crown would force him to connect with his better self. (Hell, maybe he still can, though with two episodes left he better do it soon.)

Mitt Romney the former Massachusetts governor and Mitt Romney the current presidential nominee contradict each other on so many issues (notably health care) it’s understandable that many of his harshest critics are fellow Republicans, because the only belief they know for certain that Mitt holds dear is that he should be in the damned White House already.

When Mitt enters it and finally can ignore the whims of us voters for a little bit, what will he reveal himself to be?

I’m not certain, but I’m already giving up my highlights.

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One Response to “Mitt Romney: our King Joffrey?”

  1. Wow, so gratuitously nasty and snide.

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