So Mittens is on his way to Israel — may be there by now, actually — and is looking forward to meeting with his BFF Bibi Netanyahu. It’s an odd one-way friendship, however, as Bibi says he barely knows Mittens. See also Kevin Drum — Bibi might not be inclined to go out of his way to make Mitten’s visit a success.
All sorts of odd little anecdotes about Mittens have been surfacing lately, including the one in which he offered a barista the remainder of his cocoa instead of a tip.
Then there was the time he went to China to look presidential and stumbled over basic geopolitical questions. And finally, the offensive charm offensive in London, in which he insulted the Brits and dissed his wife’s Olympic horse.
And I’m saying this level of cluelessness is not about having an off day. It speaks to basic levels of character and socialization that might have been corrected if caught before Mitt was eight years old or so. But not now.
Really, it clarifies the dog-on-the-roof episode. Mittens appears to be incapable of empathy with other human beings, never mind the poor dog.
Jonathan Chait notes that Mittens seems to be at his worst “when Romney is trying to ingratiate himself with somebody, yet canâ€™t help but point out that their standards of excellence donâ€™t rise to his own. Sucking up to people is just a completely unnatural act for him.”
Fred Kaplan goes further, explaining,
The American capitalists-turned-statesmen of an earlier generationâ€”Douglas Dillon, Averell Harriman, Robert Lovett, John McCloy, Dean Acheson, Paul Nitzeâ€”took risks, built institutions, helped rebuild postwar Europe, befriended their foreign counterparts: in short, they cultivated an internationalist sensibility at their core. Whatever you think of their politics or Cold War policies generally (and there is much to criticize), financiers formed an American political elite in that era because finance (through the Marshall Plan, the World Bank, the IMF, and so forth) was so often the vehicle of American expansionism.
By contrast, private-equity firms, such as Bain Capital, where Romney made his fortune, tend to view their client companies as cash cows, susceptible to cookie-cutter formulas from which the firmsâ€™ partners reap lavish fees, almost regardless of the outcome. Their ends and means breed an insularity, a sense of entitlement, a disposition to view all the worldâ€™s entities through a single prism and to appraise them along a single scale.
I’ve had to deal with big-shot executives who were close to being idiot savants; outside of the narrow world of whatever they did to make money, they actually were rather stupid. But because they were alpha male types and powerful enough to be insulated from being called out for mistakes, they had no inkling of their own limitations. They thought they were brilliant at everything. You could put them in a room with, say, Stephen Hawking, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, and these big-shot executives would dominate the conversation, because (they think) no one else but them actually understands the world. But in truth, they don’t understand much of anything.
The more I see of Romney, the more he seems to be of the same type.