Monday, August 27, 2012

"Mitt's Cheap. All the Trappings of Wealth... That's all Ann"

I have commented before that I can respect Mitt Romney's reported cheapness, and some of it does appear to be genuine (such as occasionally flying coach), but when you hear a guy chatting up $million dressage horses with Sean Hannity, or has multiple multi-million dollar homes with cars sitting idle at each home, you know that a lot of it is window dressing. Case in point:
Last week, when the campaign stayed at a Marriott Renaissance, he lamented that a cheaper Marriott Courtyard was nearby. He washes his own Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts in hotel rooms. On one recent day, as he dashed to an awaiting car, he grabbed leftover boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and saved a bowl of fruit—not leaving anything for waste.
I find it very difficult to believe that Romney ever begrudged one of his business partners a suite at a top hotel. That is to say, I suspect that this is less about the careful pinching of pennies and is more about "Why do these peons need better than the cheapest room available, especially if I'm willing to bite the bullet." And yes, it's great that Romney is willing to stay at the "cheaper" hotel, himself, but that form of leadership seems only to occur when he's the top dog, not when he's among peers.

The part that most strikes me is Romney's supposedly taking time off from his campaigning and press appearances to wash his own shirts in the sink of his hotel room, presumably hanging them in the bathtub to dry, hauling out the iron and ironing board the next morning, wearing shirts that smell faintly of hotel bar soap or shampoo.... Frankly, if he's not being phony with that claim he's being, as they say, penny wise and pound foolish. It would be an inconsequential expense for him to have his shirts professionally laundered and, if he really thought it was not worth the cost, would be absurd for him not to delegate. It's neither fun nor efficient to try to do your laundry in a hotel room sink and, frankly, Romney's appearance belies the idea that he drip dries his shirts in his motel rooms.

Also, since when is the act of taking extra, sealed boxes of cereal from the hotel's breakfast bar an act of keeping the cereal from going to waste? If that's a form of cheapness, it's the brand that imposes an additional cost on the hotel in order to save a few dollars later in the day when you don't have to pay for a snack. By way of comparison, the guy who stuffs his pockets full of food from a buffet so that he doesn't have to buy another meal that day is demonstrating cheapness, but he only paid for the meal he actually ate at the restaurant.

Let me put it this way: I don't doubt that Romney can in fact be cheap, both at times with himself and more consistently with the people he doesn't deem worthy of largesse, but "I'll bet you $10,000" that this is an attempt by his campaign to oversell a value that "the polls say that voters like" through credulous reporters.

And the idea that every one of Romney's extraordinary indulgences can be written off with, "He likes to keep Ann happy?" Really, the man needs to take some responsibility.

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