Awkward family photos: Mitt doing his laundry
Mitt Romney's hurdle in winning the love/respect/admiration/fear of his party can be summed up in one photo.
It was taken by his son, Tagg (doesn't Sarah Palin have a kid with that name?) and put on Twitter this week. It's of Romney and his wife, Ann, presumably in a hotel basement, side-by-side pouring detergent into washing machines. Mitt is of course, wearing a starched button up shirt and jeans, which is what people who never do laundry think people would wear when they do laundry. (Personally, if I have a clean starched shirt and jeans that's an indication I don't need to do laundry yet.) "Nothing like the glamorous life on the road," the intermittent front-runner's son tweeted with the pic.
This photo comes in the same week as Romney's tax return where we learned Romney doesn't actually work. He is in fact, as he's claimed, unemployed. His money ... makes his money. Millions and millions. He pays a tax rate of 13.9 percent - far lower than your average laundromat owner.
Which leads me to ask: Why is Mitt being photographed doing his laundry? Were there no Dukakis tanks available?
Apparently pleased with his Average Joe "real street" cred, Romney happily explained the image to NBC News, "We do our laundry at least once a week, because we'll be on the road for 30 straight days. Who else do you think is going to do our laundry?"
When you are a multi-multi-millionaire, I can think of millions of people who could do your laundry. Isn't Romney taking away jobs by washing his own clothes? First he outsourced American jobs, destroyed companies while the CEO at Bain Capital - now his quirky down-homeness is denying a gig to a professional fluff and folder.
When you don't actually think about the plight of working people, you can assume you're connecting to their "kitchen table" concerns by saying you have to do laundry at least once a week. We all do our laundry that much. Mainly because if you're middle-class (or the former middle-class), you don't have weeks worth of clothes; therefore you wash clothes all the time. It's like saying you pay your bills at least once a month. Or you fill up your car with gas at least once a week. Or you worry about money at least once every other day. For normal people, this goes without saying, but for a candidate trying to appear normal, well, let's just say it doesn't wash.
Speaking of which, does one really, as the GOP-dubbed "vulture capitalist" with holdings in the Cayman Islands and some Swiss bank accounts want to have oneself associated with the word "laundry"? If you're admittedly doing accounting tricks to pay as little U.S. taxes as possible, don't you want to avoid a word synonymous with rich guy malfeasance? "I pay all the taxes that are legally required, not a dollar more," said Romney at the NBC debate on Monday night in Florida.
Right: Millionaire plus laundry equals accidental editorial cartoon.
What's next for this guy? Dressing up as a pirate and walking through foreclosed neighborhoods?
Also, do you really want, as a Mormon candidate, to open up a conversation about separating whites from colors? Gah!
The photo op was like answering a question no one asks: Who does your laundry?
No one cares. A millionaire former-CEO insisting on doing his own cleaning is either lying or not a very good CEO.
A great politician can be all things to all people: an Elite, an Everyman; a Soldier, a General; a Fighter, a Thinker. A bad one can just pander and grovel for everyone's approval. "You like that? Me too."
Hey look guys, I'm doing my super-normal-every-week laundry. As the 3,000th richest man in the country, who else is going to do my laundry, am I right?
I mean, there's being clean cut and then there's just ... oh never mind.
Contact Tina Dupuy, award-winning writer and the managing editor of Crooks and Liars, via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.