Now Romney knows why you cry


Mitt Rombot is programmed to relate to you. So why are you a dick? Speaking at Myrtle Beach during his I, Too, Am a Normal User campaign, Rombot estimated his income tax rate at “probably closer to 15% than anything.” Examples of anything include 38%, 25%, 14% and 16%, so we’re talking 15%. As Reuters ace Sam Young notes, that ballpark figure suggests “that one of the wealthiest people to ever run for U.S. president pays a much lower rate than most Americans.”  Don’t worry, though: President Rombot would never implement policies to reinforce the staggering wealth discrepancies that have defined his entire operations log. This failsafe switch prevents that.

I got a great deal on it, too—found it in the mail-order catalog of the Seld-M-Fail Switch Company. I’ll just connect it to Rombot’s empathy center, and he’ll be ready to explain why instability in the lower middle class threatens—oh no! What’s happening? Why isn’t his limbic system shutting down? For the love of God, someone please shut down Rombot’s limbic system.

It’s too late. Rombot has described the $360,000 he made from speaking engagements last year—which number is seven times the median household income of the United States—as “not very much.” Like his $10,000 bet with Rick Perry, such output is open to troubling interpretations. Matthew Iglesias takes it as proof that Rombot is out of touch with ordinary people, which seems like a potentially valid criticism of America’s maybe richest Mormon. If he thinks the price of a fairly rad house is not much annual income, how much importance would he place on, say, a tax cut that saved middle-income Americans $10,000 a year?

Of course, there’s an ironically less cynical reading of Rombot’s indicators: he’s lying. He knows damn well that three hundred grand is a ton of money, particularly for addressing Sarasota Toastmasters or whoever his speaking audiences are, and he called it “not very much” before he realized that Reuters guys would fetch up the actual number.

If that’s it, then Rombot is bugged in his primary feature. A leveraged buyout expert who hopes to command the United States military should be a tactician. When somebody asks him how much income tax he paid last year, he should think, okay, probably they will check this one. Even if he will never know what we mean by “want,” his user interface should be better.

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  1. Imagine going into a speech where you know you have to address your income, and you also know you can’t let voters have the impression that you’re a rich fat cat. Do you act surprised, “yeah, I made a 1%er income, holy fuck, that’s a lot of money!”? Probably not.

    Romney can’t act like he’s amazingly rich, he has to downplay it. It might not even be possible to talk about that kind of money without sounding condescending. Trying to relate to bottom 80%ers will only create distance. “Now, I understand that’s the kind of sum that would buy the kind of house most people live in. I’ve been very blessed (Mormon) or maybe it’s my shrewd business skills (Bain Capital).” Trying to explain how big his income is is a soundbite minefield.

    Especially if his additional point is that he gave it mostly away, he can’t go “I gave that enormous pile away, can you believe that? I’m such a good guy.”

    The only realistic option is to make the earnings sound as small as possible so the subject will go away by the end of the week. “I made {large figure}, it wasn’t a big deal, and I gave it away anyway.” Given that in all communication people are mostly listening to your emotional disposition than thinking critically about the words in your sentences, I think the quote sounds pretty understandable, especially after trying to consider alternatives.

    Eddie Izzard explains:

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