OK, I promised I would tell my Mitt Romney story. It was a very brief, but telling, interaction. This meeting of the minds occurred when I was working as a valet in Boston and Romney had just been elected governor of Massachusetts.
Working as a valet, there are two jobs: front man and runner. The front man stays by the entrance to the restaurant, greeting people as they pull up, taking money, and passing off the cars to the runners to go and park. This night in particular was one of my first nights working as front man, which is much better than being a runner as there is no running involved. As soon as I arrived, the manager took me aside and told me the Governor would be coming in tonight. Although I was not a big Romney fan, it was definitely exciting, like being told there was going to be a parade or something. As a general rule of thumb, it is more exciting to see famous people than non-famous people.
The restaurant was on a one way street, right on the corner. It was extremely busy that evening and I actually got lost in the hustle and hubbub of the night and had almost forgotten about Romney’s arrival. Suddenly, a black SUV came flying the wrong way down the one way street and screeched to a halt right in the middle of the valet zone. Dashing Mitt Romney jumped out of the driver’s seat and his wife popped out of the passenger side. They both came charging towards me, heading towards the front door of the restaurant at high speed.
I approached Romney, “Hello, valet parking sir?”
He flashed me that classic Romney grin which I can only describe as shit eating, and said, “No, I don’t think so,” in a half-amused tone of voice that implied: “Are you dumb? I’m the GOVERNOR! Why would I have to pay YOU to park there?”
And, FLASH, he was gone, inside to sit down to some fine dining, leaving me with my ass in the breeze and a SUV parked backwards in my valet zone. His statie/bodyguard came up to me and in a very nice way assured me that he’d get that SUV out of my zone as soon as possible, which he did (this was by far the nicest interaction I have ever had with a Massachusetts state trooper).
The thing that surprised me the most about this interaction was the contrast between Romney and every other politician I have ever met in Boston. Your prototypical Boston politician is a schmoozer and glad-hander. For anyone who isn’t from Boston, just watch this priceless footage of Billy Bulger’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast from 1987 and you’ll understand:
Guys like Ray Flynn or Tip O’Neill would have slapped me on the back, called me a good kid, palmed me at least a fin, and hopefully offered me a patronage job at the MBTA. Romney acted more like Frank McCourt, ex-owner of the Dodgers, who also ran by me like I was a minor annoyance in his major world.
So, when I see clips of Mitt Romney describing how he likes “being able to fire people,” I am not surprised in the slightest. Romney has no ability to relate to working people, because he was extremely successful in the first fifty-five years of his life without doing so. When Romney was a kid, he father was CEO of one of the biggest companies in America. Common people are just numbers to him. I don’t begrudge him that (actually, that’s a lie, I thought he was a dick for the way he treated me), but Americans don’t like that in a politician. It’s why cold clinical (but intelligent) stiffs like Al Gore and John Kerry lost to that swaggering (but dumb) Texan George W. Bush: he seemed like a regular guy and they didn’t.
Although there are many reasons I don’t think Romney will beat Obama, that is the main one: the douche factor. Romney comes off like an elitist prick who could not care less about the majority of Americans. I am sure he is not alone among politicians for feeling that way, but he is the only one who really lets it show.