“I’m out of work too!”
That was Mitt Romney’s reply to a distraught woman on one of his early primary junkets. Unable to find a job, she’d blurted out her dilemma. He flashed a smile, said, “I’m out of work too!”
Romney hadn’t yet released his 20 million dollar income for the prior year but being a wealthy business man is his basic pitch. The woman was plainly poor. Was his cold-blooded reply simply a desperate desire to be all things to all voters?
One thing it had nothing to do with is being a Mormon. I spent two summers, 1958 and ‘59 teaching at Utah State University, Logan, Utah, in Cache Valley, an hour and a half drive from Salt Lake City, warmly welcomed by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, LDS. With a wife and two infants, it was nice to see tots in restaurants, theaters, and meetings. It is still the most family-friendly place I’ve ever been, When you had to leave kids at home, there were always young baby sitters, who, by community consensus, would not accept more than 25 cents an hour (the NYC rate was then $1 to $1.50 an hour). We went to brunches in back yard gardens, barbeques in lush picnic grounds. I met a USU professor of religion who smoked, making him a “Jack Mormon,” meaning he’d lapsed from strict observance, yet was accepted and respected. There was world and national news on the radio and in the Salt Lake City Times and Logan Herald Journal. I came away with admiration and respect for deeply humane hard-working people. Mitt Romney’s religion has nothing to do with his cold-blooded insularity.
Is it wealth or position? His father, head of American Motors, later Governor of Michigan, surely presented him with opportunities to expand his horizons, like sons of the Rockefellers, Fords, Kennedys. Yet Mitt Romney is able to stash the family dog on a car roof for a 12-hour drive, say, “I like to fire people,” and brush off a suffering woman with, “I’m out of work too.”
Some people are born color blind, some tone deaf. Mitt Romney lacks empathy, the capacity to recognize feelings experienced by others. He tries to make up for it with intelligence, by working hard, and smiling a lot. As Massachusetts governor, he enacted a popular and successful health plan, now coldly repudiated to ingratiate himself with extremists and portray himself as a “serious conservative.” But one must seriously worry about a leader with a diminished capacity for empathy, especially in a world where war must never be more than a desperate last resort. With so little feeling for other people’s feelings, Mitt Romney in a position of power, would be a clear and present danger.