Politico promises “The Draperization of Romney,” but totally dodges the subject

The Politico piece (which ran last month, but Nu Wexler just called my attention to) started out with an intriguing premise:

The Draperizing of Mitt Romney is under way.

He may not drink or cheat, and he lacks the fictional ad-maker’s charisma, but Democrats, despite the potential perils of such a strategy, remain determined to paint Romney as a throwback to the “Mad Men” era — a hopelessly retro figure who, on policy and in his personal life, is living in the past…

But it really sort of fell flat.

I thought it was going to go deeper. For instance, the central conflict regarding Don Draper (at least in the early seasons) is that he’s not who he says he is. Now that would be a pretty meaty thing to throw at the famously mutable Romney. You can easily see Don Draper donning any political mantle required to get his way with a client, or a woman, or anyone — because he just doesn’t care about that stuff. Ditto with Mitt. He just wants to be president; he doesn’t give a rat’s posterior about the stuff that the True Believers in his party get all cranked up about.

But the Politico piece completely dodged the subject, instead citing some tired chestnuts about how the 50s and early 60s were awful because moms stayed home with the kids. (Although I admit I’d rather hear that oldie than more of the tiresome “war on women” meme.)

And then… it goes into this interminable discussion of that stupid flap over what some Democrat said about Ann Romney several weeks ago. It goes on and on. I guess that was fresh when it was written, but what does that have to do with the advertised subject? Not much.

Hello!?!?! This is supposed to be about how Mitt Romney is like Don Draper! Neither of them is a woman! Can we stick to the subject? Don’t make me think you’re going to talk about guy stuff and then not even touch on that area… It’s enough to make a guy want to go off with those idiots who get together in sweat lodges and beat tom-toms and talk about how tough it is to be a guy. Almost. OK, not even close. But don’t bill something as being about guy stuff when it’s going to be yet another rehash of chick stuff.

As for Don… I’m worried about the guy. This week’s episode ended with him putting “Revolver” on the turntable (is it 1966 already?) at the behest of his young wife, who’s trying to clue him in on what the late ’60s will be about. He briefly listens alone (his wife is off taking acting lessons, leaving him behind in more ways than one) in his Hugh Hefner dream pad, and the contrast between him and “Tomorrow Never Knows” could not possibly be more stark.

The early 60s — say, round about 1962, which Gene Sculatti‘s brilliant Catalog of Cool termed “The Last Good Year” — was his time, the time he was created for, and which was created for him. He is going to be so lost going forward.

42 thoughts on “Politico promises “The Draperization of Romney,” but totally dodges the subject

  1. Brad

    Regarding The Last Good Year, from Sculatti’s book (but this part written by Davin Seay):

    “Nineteen sixty-two is gone forever. Goodbye and amen. So why ’62? Why not ’56 or ’68, or why not even ’23? Sixty-two seems, in retrospect, a year when the singular naivete of the spanking new decade was at its guileless height, with only the vaguest, most indistinct hints of the agonies and ecstasies to come marring the fresh-scrubbed, if slightly sallow complexion of the times. On the first day of that year, the Federal Reserve raised the maximum interest on savings accounts to 4 percent while “The Twist” was sweeping the nation. A month later “Duke of Earl” was topping the charts, and John Glenn was orbiting the good, green globe. That spring Wilt Chamberlain set the NBA record by scoring 100 points in a single game and West Side Story won the Oscar for Best Picture. The Seattle World’s Fair opened, followed five weeks later by the deployment of five thousand U.S. troops in Thailand. Dick Van Dyke and The Defenders won Emmys, and Adolph Eichman got his neck stretched. By that summer, the Supreme Court had banned prayer in public school, Algeria went indy, and Marilyn Monroe died of an overdose.”

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    Jesus, Brad! “tiresome ‘war on women’ meme”!?! “Guy stuff” vs.”chick stuff”!?! Are you trying to be funny, facetious or merely offensive, or are you truly that backward?

  3. Brad

    You know how utterly tiresome I find Identity Politics.

    There are actual similarities between Mitt Romney and Don Draper. None of them have anything to do with gender issues. If you’re going to rehash all that, warn me. Don’t make me think you’re going to say anything actually interesting about the candidate’s character.

  4. Brad

    And actually, I was engaged in self-mockery making like I wanted to talk “guy stuff.” What I want is neither guy stuff nor chick stuff. You made me think I was going to learn something interesting about the character of a candidate running for president (or what his opponents want me to think is his character).

    Don’t sell me that and then bait and switch.

  5. `Kathryn Fenner

    Yes, I know how utterly tiresome a white, Anglo-Saxon, upper-middle-class, heterosexual, married Christian guy might find Identity politics.

  6. Brad

    Are you going to tell me you don’t find all that “Iron John” stuff (which is sort of identity obsession for “white, Anglo-Saxon, upper-middle-class, heterosexual, married Christian guys”) ridiculous? Because I do. It’s like a parody of other identity-related stuff…

  7. `Kathryn Fenner

    You don’t have to go all Iron John to be with your peeps–Rotary meeting works fine–or pretty much anything else you do, unless it is a special thing for the Identity people, like Greater Columbia Community Relations–“community” being a code word for “race” in this instance, say.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    I bet at least two-thirds of the commenters on the blog are white, upper-middle class, etc. men.

  9. Brad

    I do like the way I ended that column from August 2008 (which predated, and foreshadowed, the two lengthy columns about Obama and McCain):

    “Maybe I’m a misfit. But the ways in which I’m a misfit helped bring me to support John McCain (fellow Navy brat) and Barack Obama (who, like me, graduated from high school in the hyperdiverse ethnic climate of Hawaii) for their respective nominations. Sen. McCain is the Republican whom the doctrinaire Republicans love to hate. Sen. Obama is the Democrat who was uninterested in continuing the partisan warfare that was so viscerally important to the Clintonistas.
    “Coming full circle, I guess I like these guys because they’re, well, like me. But not so most people would notice.
    “It’s going to be interesting, and for me often distressing, to watch what happens as the media and party structures and political elites who do think in terms of groups that look, think and act alike sweep up these two misfit individuals in the tidal rush toward November. Will either of them have the strength of mind and will to remain the remarkably unique character that he is, or will both succumb to the irresistible force of Identity Politics? I’m rooting fervently for the former, but recent history and all the infrastructure of political expression are on the side of the latter.”

  10. Brad

    I didn’t see this: “I bet at least two-thirds of the commenters on the blog are white, upper-middle class, etc. men.” until after writing the three comments that follow it.

    My answer: And do you think this is a group of people who are “like me” in important ways? Are we in broad agreement on the issues of the day, or do we argue vehemently about practically everything? Think about it.

    The only regular on this blog whose personal background makes him somewhat “like me” is Burl. And yet there is a yawning gap between the two of us on a lot of hot-button issues (including the Kulturkampf stuff). Our similarity is no predictor of likemindedness.

  11. Juan Caruso

    “As I’ve alluded to before, I’ve felt more identification with Barack Obama and his life experiences than I do with your average group of white guys — although there are important differences between us as well. Ditto with John McCain (recall my two columns in 2008 about my identifications with both candidates).” -Brad

    At this writing there are a total of 11 previous comments visible; 8 are yours, Brad, and 3 are KFs. You definitely have one key attribute in common with the two and most high-profile politicians.

    You may take that as a compliment or not. They would.

  12. Brad

    Well, there’s no question I’m long-winded.

    It’s why I started blogging. There was never enough room in the newspaper for all I wanted to say.

  13. Brad

    But here’s the thing… and this is significant…

    I have never, ever been in a room with other people and felt like I was in a room full of people “like me.” I’ve never felt that, even once. Whatever warmth or whatever people gain from that, I’ve never known.

    As a member of the CRC, and a former longtime board member of the Columbia Urban League and the SC Hispanic Leadership Council (bet you didn’t know I was a “Hispanic leader,” did you?), I’ve had quite a bit of experience being one of the only, and sometimes, the only, “white guy” in the room.

    And you know what? It feels just like being at a Rotary meeting.

    As I’ve alluded to before, I’ve felt more identification with Barack Obama and his life experiences than I do with your average group of white guys — although there are important differences between us as well. Ditto with John McCain (recall my two columns in 2008 about my identifications with both candidates — if you don’t follow those last two links).

    I can’t get together with Democrats and Republicans and feel like I’m with my peeps, either. As you know.

    So am I deeply and irreconcilably alienated from society? No. I think that would be a self-indulgence. I just believe I’m different from everybody else because EVERYBODY is different from everybody else. I don’t believe in groups. I don’t believe in identity.

    And I think when people get all comfy with groups of people with whom they identify as being “like them,” they’re fooling themselves.

  14. Brad

    I wrote a column on the subject of people supposedly hanging with people “like themselves” back in 08. Here it is.

    But I think I may have explained it better just now, in the comment above.

  15. `Kathryn Fenner

    Brad–you are usually the majority demographic, so it would not be a welcome relief to be with similar people. For minorities, I am told it can be quite that. You just don’t get it, because you are apparently not a very empathetic person. I know plenty of persons in your demographic who do, thank goodness!

    and I guess I shouldn’t waste any more time trying to convince you, since you have told us that once you make up your mind on something, that’s pretty much that. Nice.

  16. Brad

    That’s not quite true. But after 58 years of life that have shown me the opposite, you’re not going to persuade me that I belong to a large group of people who are “like me,” with whom I can be all comfy. No such group exists.

    It might be nice to find one sometime. Maybe it would release all sorts of endorphins — maybe I’d even get a shot of oxytocin — and then I’d see what I’ve been missing, and become a huge advocate of demographic identification. Until then, I won’t believe in it.

  17. Brad

    By the way, y’all — the thing I just referenced about oxytocin was pretty interesting. The headline of the piece was, “The Trust Molecule.”

    And I had just thought it was something women had flowing in their veins during labor, and when nursing…

  18. Brad

    Apparently, researchers have developed a nasal spray that will shoot oxytocin straight into your brain, and make you instantly into an empathetic person.

    So there’s hope. Although I don’t think it’s commercially available yet.

  19. susanincola

    Brad, I find this interesting — you don’t feel like people are that different based on things like race and gender, because you’ve had enough experience with people of different groups to realize that, well, they’re just not that different. But for people that have not had that experience, other “groups” get classified as “other” and so are seen as that different, and are responded to as such. At which point, identity as defined here does matter, and it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  20. Brad

    Yep. Of course, occasionally we’ll get instances in which the different ways different demographic groups respond to the same stimulus is truly shocking. The uniformly divergent ways blacks and whites responded to the OJ verdict really blew my mind, deeply challenging my belief that people are just people…

    I wrote a column about it at the time, but didn’t run it. I ran across it years later, and wished that I had. It was interesting…

  21. `Kathryn Fenner

    How about the Catholic Church? It’s the one major minority aspect about you, and judging from what I read here, it’s a big deal to you. You note with favor when someone is Catholic; you espouse the party line. I would assume you feel pretty good at Mass?

  22. `Kathryn Fenner

    and stereotypes exist for a reason–generalities, too. Every member of a group may not display the characteristic, but enough do for the stereotype to gain traction. I mean, how many lame jokes do we hear at Rotary based on some stereotype?

    There is an African-American culture–not every African-American is steeped in it–for example, POTUS, perhaps. Certainly I have friends who are A-A but so outside the A-A norm as to be more “white” than me. However, Tyler Perry, for one, has made a mint exploiting the in-group jokes of A-A culture.

    At Emory Law School, 75% of my class was from the NYC area, and most all of those were Jewish. It was before Seinfeld, so I really missed a lot of their references. I remember discussing a seminal tort case involving a woman who had scales fall on her on the Long Island Railway. I raised my hand and asked what exactly that meant for “scales” to fall on someone. My professor replied, “Well, you’ve been on the Long Island Railway!” “Well, no sir, actually I haven’t.”
    I also didn’t understand when my contracts professor asked at the first class how many of us would be celebrating the holidays. It was September. Seemed odd–but about 3/4 of the class raised their hands. The coffee bar only served matzoh instead of bagels certain times….an education for me, and I was an adult.

  23. Brad

    The Catholic thing is me being ironic. Like when I brag that “we” have taken over the Supreme Court. I LOVE that ive joined an oft-despised minority, and I play it to the hilt. Its my opportunity to play the Identity game. How’m I doing? Yes, we’ve all chosen to worship in the same way. But if we’re a coherent demographic group, we’re the most wildly diverse one in the universe. Much more so than Rotary.

    As for those other differences you cite, I consider cultural stuff like that to be superficial.

    But the OJ thing was profound. It showed a deep COGNITIVE divide, and that shook me up.

  24. `Kathryn Fenner

    Well, guess what–it happens a lot in other circumstances, too. You just don’t notice them.

  25. bud

    The Romney high school bullying incident needs to be discussed. It was a very disgusting incident. Even though he was just a teenager at the time it shows his lack of empathy and moral shortcomings as a human being. Hopefully he’s past that now. But given the dog-on-roof incident and all his tin-ear comments on the stump I’m not so sure. I really don’t believe Romney cares at all about anyone other than his rich buddys.

  26. Silence

    @ ‘Kathryn – Oy Gevalt!
    What exactly does it mean for scales to fall on someone on the Long Island Railway? I haven’t ridden on it.

    I’ll take my matzoh with a shmear.

  27. Brad

    Scout, I like your question about INTPs…

    But I have no idea what the answer is. I’ve never been in a group of INTPs. Or been aware of it. The only time I was in a group of people subjected to Myers-Briggs testing (editors in The State’s newsroom), I was the only INTP in the group.

    I actually SUSPECT, but don’t know, that INTPs are probably the least likely type to get a lot of mutually-supporting warm-and-fuzzy feelings going. First, we’re introverted, which doesn’t mean we’re shy in M-B terms; it means we get our approval from ourselves — we don’t look to others to tell us we’re right and build our confidence.

    Then, we’re intuitive. We don’t need the evidence of our senses, but extrapolate from between the lines of the information available. That’s probably a wash.

    Then we’re thinkers rather than feelers. We may care about how our group feels, but in the end, we’re going to go with our rational conclusions, even if it hurts the feelings of all the other INTPs. They, if anyone, will understand. (The problem on so many issues is that non-Ts don’t understand our apparent lack of empathy. They think we’re mean.)

    As for P — being perceivers rather than judgers — well, a group could have an impact on our attitude, in that the group could present new evidence to us that could change our minds. And a group of INTPs would know just what sort of evidence to present, rather than the mushy stuff that, say, Fs might present as evidence. (Sorry to sound dismissive. Ss no doubt look upon our N reasoning as mushy, as well — even though it isn’t.)

    So basically, we’re imagining how Spock would react to being in a room full of other half-Vulcans, half-humans, rather than in a crew that includes the likes of Kirk and Bones.

    And I’m not sure what that would be like, captain. The evidence is insufficient, although I’ve given you the best intuitive response I can muster in the few minutes I devoted to it.

  28. Silence

    @bud – the timing of the WaPo’s Romney bullying article is suspect. Why didn’t this come out during a previous campaign? Why didn’t it come out during the primary?

    I hope that I am never called to account for the horrible things that I did in high school.

  29. Brad

    Speaking of matzoh — for you kosher newspaper readers out there… did any of you see the Matzoh edition of The New York Times this Passover just past? You should check it out.

    Personally, I like to make a little sandwich with the Matzoh, with both horseradish and charoset. But keep the wine glass handy! The horseradish burns…

  30. Brad

    And no, I really shouldn’t be eating either matzoh or charoset, on account of my allergies. But a little bit won’t hurt. It only comes around once a year…

  31. bud

    Then, we’re intuitive. We don’t need the evidence of our senses, but extrapolate from between the lines of the information available. That’s probably a wash.

    Then we’re thinkers rather than feelers.

    How can a “thinker” be “intuitive”. Seems like a contradiction to me.

  32. Brad

    Like I said… Ss think Ns can’t possibly be thinking straight. Because they don’t see intuitive reasoning as reasoning. They can’t.

    And while we don’t see things the way they do, we can at least intuit the way they look at it. And from their perspective, it would have to look really bad for us.

    It’s a real barrier to communication.

  33. Silence

    Brad – that NYT is pretty funny. I like horseradish (the bitter herb) but I can’t stand charoset. I just put the horseradish on top and it eat like toast. Good horseradish will clean out your sinuses and make your eyes water.
    Sweet, sweet (and I do mean sweet) Manischewitz. Yummy for your tummy, make sure you get four glasses of it.

  34. Brad

    Absolutely. I do not approve of the “four-sip” dodge. Four full glasses are SOP.

    Of course, I want there to be substantial food there for me to eat.

    We had a “seder” at St. Peter’s this year, led by the rabbi from Tree of Life, and unfortunately I was allergic to all the food except for some salad. And some potatoes.

    I’ve been to a couple of real Seders at Moss Blachman’s house, and both times Samuel Tenenbaum brought his brisket of which he is justly proud. That forms a nice, solid foundation for the four glasses of wine, especially if you go back for seconds.

    As for these clueless shiksas like Kathryn… whaddya gonna do? 😉


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