On Wednesday afternoon, my own radio station was going on a bit too long about how well peaches go with duck, so I flipped over to the show hosted by former Gov. John Rowland, where a caller was saying (I paraphrase): "Breathes there a man with soul so dead who never to himself has said, Ann Romney, you are one fabulous person."
"They started with nothing!" the caller exclaimed to the gov, who did not disagree.
The previous night, indeed, La Romney had told the world of the couple's hungry years when their dining table was a fold-down ironing board and their desk was a door on sawhorses. They were ragged and funny. They killed a drifter and went through his pockets.
This particular brand of posturing has caused trouble in the past. In a 1994 Boston Globe interview, Ann Romney described the Harvard days as a time when they had to sell some of Mitt's stock — as if this were one of the few moments of American hardscrabble existence to elude the pen of John Steinbeck. Mitt and Ann came from extremely wealthy families. Many Americans buy lotto tickets in the hopes of having that kind of nothing.
It has become popular in politics to have started with nothing, although physicists and mathematicians will tell you it probably isn't possible to do that.
Linda McMahon speaks with pride about how she and her husband started with nothing and ran it right down to negative $1 million. The McMahons are so garishly rich that, just to take the curse off it, they have taken to bragging about their bankruptcy, which is an odd thing to bring up when you're courting the trust of voters. In a typical bankruptcy, the people who did business with you wind up losing.
One reason for their bankruptcy appears to have been the less than successful promotion of a 1974 jump by Evel Knievel in a jet-powered sled over the Snake River Canyon. When I say it was less than successful, I mean both that they didn't sell enough tickets and that Evel did not, strictly speaking, reach the other side.
How could you not want this family voting on Supreme Court confirmations?
Anyway, the point is not: did you start with nothing? Lots of people started with nothing. Vito Corleone. Tony Montana. That doesn't make them good citizens.
The question is: do you remember nothing? Are you still sympathetic to the chumps living way down the ladder from you? The bozos who barely have two nickels to rub together and have gone into debt in the hopes that promoting a fight between Muhammad Ali and Japanese wrestler Antonio Inoki [another actual disastrous bankruptcy-exacerbating McMahon project] will provide that one big score?
Reporters who have tackled the McMahon bankruptcy saga have found impossible to nail down all the details. It turns out a lot of people remember nothing. But Hearst reporter Brian Lockhart did obtain a wonderful quote in 2010 from a campaign spokesman about the McMahons: "They took risks that were not atypical to most entrepreneurs."
Actually, most entrepreneurs worry about whether Route 44 would support a new chicken wings joint, as opposed what will happen if Muhammad Ali gets head butted in the groin in Tokyo. (This also happened. There's absolutely no point in fictionalizing anything about the McMahons.)
This helps explain why McMahon skipped the Tampa convention last week. The Connecticut delegation consists of 21 men and seven women, all of them white. (Connecticut Republicans currently lag slightly behind bonobos in creating a hierarchy in which the female is a full participant.) The delegates were, unfortunately, not picked because of their familiarity with nothing or even with hardship of any kind. They were mostly picked based on how much money they had plowed into the campaign.
They are out of step with the Dickensian past in which the candidates placed doors on sawhorses and hunted to put meat on the table.
"Good night, Mama." "Good night, Grampa." "Goodnight, John-Boy." "Good night, Stephanie." "Did anyone remember to check the bowline on the Sexy Bitch?" "Good night, Daddy." "Good night, Tagg." "Good night, Mary-Ellen." "Is that the car elevator I hear? Dang it!"