The question on Bill Maher’s show was “Why do many people not like Mitt Romney?” Maher didn’t mention that Mittens looks soft and un-molded, like a pod creature in Invasion of the Body Snatchers that hasn’t yet assumed full human form. Or that he speaks like a phony, alternately trying to sound stern or folksy, always condescending, often punctuating his remarks with stiff smiles and mechanical chuckles.
Instead, Maher compared Romney to other famous zillionaires — Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney — and noted that the latter three men made tons of money because they produced something tangible that people could buy, whereas Mitt’s wealth grew only in relation to how many jobs and lives he destroyed.
And then, in trying to explain why Mittens is doing well as a presidential candidate, Maher said something interesting:
People who like Mitt Romney like him for the same reason other people like rappers who endlessly rub it in that their life is so much better than ours. They’re in the hot tub at the after party with the bling and the bitches. And yet, no matter how clear Jay-Z makes it that the hot tub is only for the coolest and most beautiful people, somehow at the end of the song that is us.
Exactly. Maher showed photos of hip-hop stars posing with wads of cash in their hands — and one of Kanye West with a pair of benjamins in his mouth — and then a photo of Mittens and his whiter-than-white homies at Bain Capital, striking similar poses with money. His point was that material wealth — more so in our time than ever — is an end in itself, an American cultural imperative far stronger than belief in God or notions of good and evil, or race and class differences.
Look at those photos if you want to know why bankers are allowed to get away with grand theft, or why mediocrities such as PA Gov. Tom Corbett can make it difficult for poor kids and old people to obtain food stamps. It’s partly because many Americans still believe the main goal of life is to be in the hot tub with the bling and the bitches, or some variation on that scenario, and to hell with everyone else.
It’s only when hard times persist that Americans lose their awe of the rich and contempt for the poor. There would have been no New Deal — no dramatically revised social contract — without the pervasive, ongoing poverty caused by the Great Depression. In our time, there will be no new version of the New Deal until living conditions become unbearably bad for the great mass of people who call themselves middle-class.