Priorities USA Action, the super PAC run by former Obama advisers, is up with a new ad explaining to voters that Mitt Romney is an extremely rich guy, who does richie rich things like hold up pieces of legal tender while surrounded by his richie rich friends. In short, the ad seems like little more than an attempt to get everyone to look at that now-famous photo from the founding of Bain Capital, in which Romney and his fellow Bainians demonstrate that their new company is all about job creation. There is one thing about this ad that may have Republicans crying foul, which is the fact that midway through they doctor the photo to put the current Mitt Romney's head on the much younger Mitt Romney from the photo. Take a look:
Is this unethical? Maybe, but it's essentially a misdemeanor. It would be seriously deceptive to put Romney's head on somebody else's body to make a point about Romney, but in this case it's Romney's head on his own body (and speaking as someone who's older than he used to be, I wouldn't mind if someone put my current head on the body I had 20 years ago). Obviously, the Priorities USA people want to make sure people know it's Romney in the photo. But let's be honest: What they really want is to make sure people associate today's Romney with everything the photo shows and symbolizes, from the vulturine grins to the sharp suits to the general sense that just off camera there might be a laid-off factory worker whom they've tied to a chair so they can whip him with their Hermes ties after they go over the latest BMW catalog.
In short, it's the image that matters. They'll put a script around it about Romney's income and personal taxes and his tax plan, but mostly they just want that picture to be reproduced as much as possible (and if the Romney campaign complains about the head substitution, all the better, as that would just mean more news stories showing the picture). This reminds us that Romney hasn't really told a persuasive story about how his personal wealth figures into his candidacy. Other rich candidates have; Ross Perot, for instance, argued that he put aside his successful business to help the country out of its terrible deficit problem. It seemed to make sense; there were reasons Perot didn't win, but being too rich wasn't one of them. Romney would like us to think that his success in business is evidence that he's smart, competent, and understands the economy, and these are all things that would make his presidency just as successful as Bain Capital. And maybe they would. But the Obama folks are going to do their best to make sure every time he tries to make that case, they're there to say, "Oh yeah? Just look at this picture."