Decoding Mitt’s Magical Mystery Tour
As he lurches homeward, what have we learned? Beyond the gaffefest, is there a sharper focus on the man who would be president in this time of dangerous turmoil?
Parsing Mitt Romney’s trip may require a cultural context rather than political, starting with the Beatles’ 1967 LP and TV film, “Magical Mystery Tour,” which was also greeted as “a disaster” by British critics.
Like Romney, the Fab Four were emblematic of their times, with mindset and lyrics not easily decoded. Their soothing songs had embedded messages (LSD in “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”) of a psychedelic worldview that infuriated insensitive onlookers.
Just so now with the GOP contender. Below all his apparently aimless babbling is a vision. In contrast to those cheeky outsiders, Romney is the embodiment of today’s country-club insider. How else to explain his implicitly equating Palestinians’ economic woes vs. Israelis with the culture gap between Americans and Mexicans?
Romney’s essence may be glimpsed by going back even more to the 1920s and Sinclair Lewis’ Nobel Prize portrait of “Babbitt,” the prototypically narrow-minded American businessman with a booster mentality who “considers it God’s purpose that man should work, increase his income, and enjoy modern improvements.”
With such a challenger and the President’s defensive status (Babbitt vs. the embattled), little wonder that the campaign, according to David Brooks echoing Peggy Noonan, is “incredibly consequential and incredibly boring all at the same time,” reaching “intellectual stagnation” of political debate.