What matters are the lessons that Romney himself derives from his financial success. So I want to step back for a moment and try to imagine what was going through Romney’s mind as he pretended to be just like every worker in America who fears being laid off. Part of his motivation was obviously a political effort to defuse the silver-spoon and Bain-Capital-tycoon attacks from the just-completed Meet the Press debate. But my hunch (and I am not trying to be one of those Forever Jung psychoanalysts from the press corps) is that there was also something else behind Romney’s ill-advised remarks. He was probably thinking back to a few moments of nervousness during his early days as a business consultant and his initial worries that Bain Capital, which he helped found, might not prosper. The hero of the autobiographical movie that is running in Mitt Romney’s head is a buccaneer risk-taker who is willing to gamble everything on his vision of business success.
If my theory is true, Romney sincerely believes that he is a self-made man. It would be one thing if he privately acknowledges all the built-in advantages in his life, starting with the family name and the business and political connections that came with it. It would be far different if Romney sees himself as the hero of a modern Horatio Alger story, making his way in the world through sheer pluck. In that case, there would be a temptation to scorn those who have not applied themselves to climbing the ladder of success like he has. So what I worry about is Romney’s compassion–or lack of it. And not whether he was pandering to voters when he claimed he worried about being fired.
This is probably the Romney pander that annoys me the most. Although I think the very idea that venture capitalism is, in any way, about ‘creating jobs’ is right up there near the top.