What they're saying: Let Mitt be Mitt

National Review thinks women will fall for Romney's inner plutocrat

Published August 22, 2012 9:45PM (EDT)

Even National Review's editors, who politely asked Rep. Todd Akin to bow out of his race, probably wish they'd picked a different week for a cover story channeling the Republican Party’s misogynistic id. In the piece, Kevin D. Williamson argues that Mitt Romney should act more like a rich guy since Americans like rich guys and, get this, a number of Americans are women:

From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote. You can insert your own Mormon polygamy joke here, but the ladies do tend to flock to successful executives and entrepreneurs.

The paragraph continues, no ellipses necessary:

Saleh al-Rajhi, billionaire banker, left behind 61 children when he cashed out last year. We don’t do harems here, of course, but Romney is exactly the kind of guy who in another time and place would have the option of maintaining one. He’s a boss.

Forget that Romney belongs to a party that takes every opportunity to assert autonomy over women's bodies -- even Ann Coulter says Republicans oppose the issues many women care about -- Williamson thinks women will melt like popsicles if they focus on just how alpha a male Romney is. What’s the evidence of his indomitable manhood? Romney had boys.

Five sons, zero daughters. Romney has 18 grandchildren, and they exceed a 2:1 ratio of grandsons to granddaughters (13:5). When they go to church at their summer-vacation home, the Romney clan makes up a third of the congregation. He is basically a tribal chieftain.

Real men – save Ronald Reagan, the GOP’s exception to every rule – beget more men. Williamson continues:

Professor Obama? Two daughters. May as well give the guy a cardigan. And fallopian tubes.

After that Williamson retreats from the daring gambit of playground humor and insulting women’s intelligence to the more familiar GOP territory of idolizing the wealthy:

 [Romney] should not be ashamed of being loaded; instead, he should have some fun with it. He will discover something that the Obama campaign has not quite figured out yet: Americans do not hate rich people. Americans love rich people. Americans will sit on their couches and watch billionaire Donald Trump fire people on television — for fun.

The Republican Party does have policy objectives, but its case to the electorate isn’t about better governance or any concern of ordinary people. Instead it is an appeal to the visceral and not inconsiderable thrill of being a jerk toward anyone less privileged than you are. Republican policies aren’t going to help you become more privileged yourself but there will always be richer, better looking jerks to vicariously cheer for.

Williamson says something similar in his piece:

Elections are not about public policy. They aren’t even about the economy. Elections are tribal, and tribes are — Occupy types, cover your delicate ears — ruthlessly hierarchical. Somebody has to be the top dog.

By Alex Halperin

Alex Halperin is news editor at Salon. You can follow him on Twitter @alexhalperin.

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2012 Elections Media Mitt Romney Republican Party What They're Saying