Not content to allow the pauper’s rabble to sully the Romney name, David Brooks, that ever-expanding and balding bag of Burkean bollocks demands that we take a moment to consider the real Mitt (short for Gaius Julius Mittensus Caesar) Romney:
“Is Romney a spoiled, cosseted character? Has he been corrupted by ease and luxury?”
And like so many individuals who pose questions to themselves so that they may answer to their own satisfaction, David Brooks assures that no, Mittensus is not, in fact, a Simpsons-esque caricature of a Gilded Age gazillionaire.
At this point, based solely on Brooks’s reputation, I’m sure you’ve forgotten your previous impression of Romney as a moneyed twat and are now picturing him as the descendant of a hardscrabble pioneer, eking a living from the land and demonstrating with his every action that hard work strengthens the soul. Congratulations, David Brooks might say, because now you’re seeing the real Mittensus:
“All his life, Romney has been a worker and a grinder. He earned two degrees at Harvard simultaneously (in law and business). He built a business. He’s persevered year after year, amid defeat after defeat, to build a political career.”
Where some might take a hint and fuck off, Mittensus perseveres against all odds or common sense. But you’re probably also asking yourself “how did Mittensus come to be such a noble specimen of a hominid?” Cue the standard Brooksian appeal to a conservative philosopher, thus demonstrating his advanced learning and familiarity with a great books curriculum:
“Where did this persistence come from? It’s plausible to think that it came from his family history. The philosopher Michael Oakeshott once observed that it takes several generations to make a career. Interests, habits and lore accrue in families and shape those born into them.”
Not content to reference but one author, Brooks delights in relaying to us the highlights of his “Monarchist’s Monday” book-club selection “The Real Romney,” which details the Romney family history, and probably has no pictures. According to “The Real Romney,” Mittensus’s great-great grandfather Miles struggled against heathen mobs in Nauvoo, Illinois, and was eventually forced west to Salt Lake City after those damn mobs burned his temple down. Thus, it would seem that at least one Romney was capable of taking a hint.
Brooks follows with even more Romney history in an attempt to pin an American metanarrative badge squarely on Mittensus’s noble chest, and in a sly attempt at winning an AIPAC endorsement for our favorite Mormon campaigner, compares the Mormon struggle to the historical struggle of Jewish people:
“It is a story of relentless effort, of recovery and of being despised (in their eyes) because of their own success. Romney himself experienced none of this hardship, of course, but Jews who didn’t live through the Exodus are still shaped by it.”
I invite you to read that last sentence one more time, just to savor it.
Ultimately, one should not be surprised by Brooks’s spirited defense of Mittensus. After all, Mittensus is rich, comes from a moneyed family, and went to Harvard—he’s prime material for Brooks’s “Burkean Beefcakes” calendar. But if Brooks’s argument is still a fly in your ointment, a monkey in your wrench, a pain in your ass, fear not, for consistency is not, ironically, one of Brooks’s strong suits.