Mitt Romney has taken lots of abuse for being an out-of-touch rich guy whose struggles to connect to regular folks often produce comical results. But the stories coming out of Romney's one-day fundraising marathon in the Hamptons (three separate events at the no doubt spectacular vacation homes of Ronald Perelman, Clifford Sobel, and David Koch) on Saturday actually make Romney look good.
Because the thing about Mitt is this: He's trying. He may be terrible at it, but he's making an effort to connect with ordinary people. He talks to them almost every day. Yes, the encounters are awkward and superficial, but he wants to be one of the fellas, and he understands that this is something he could be a lot better at. Whereas the people who came to these fundraisers are actually as pretentious, condescending, and elitist as Democrats would like people to believe Mitt Romney is.
Let's stipulate that among the attendees at these events were some folks who are thoughtful and modest, treat their servants respectfully, and believe that all human beings have value. But it wasn't hard for the reporters outside to find others who were walking caricatures of nouveau riche vulgarity. There's the woman who stuck her head out of her Range Rover as she sat in a line of other luxury cars waiting to be checked through and yelled, "Is there a V.I.P. entrance? We are V.I.P." Then there's this:
A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. "I don't think the common person is getting it," she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. "Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.
"We've got the message," she added. "But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies -- everybody who's got the right to vote -- they don't understand what's going on. I just think if you're lower income -- one, you're not as educated, two, they don't understand how it works, they don't understand how the systems work, they don't understand the impact."
I wouldn't be surprised if at some point this woman buttonholed Romney and shared with him her insight about the importance of connecting with babysitters and nails ladies. That's a big part of what you buy when you give a big fat donation—the right to personally deliver to the candidate your brilliant strategic insight. Every rich person thinks that their money proves how much they understand about politics, and it's the candidate's job to nod his head, look fascinated, and pretend that his perspective has been profoundly altered by the pearl of wisdom the rich person has just given him.
The fact that these really are Mitt Romney's people, the ones for whom he will be working hard once he gets in office, doesn't mean he doesn't think plenty of them are idiots, because plenty of them are. And if he's smart, he'll make sure his advance team knows that never again should they allow reporters anywhere near his donors on the way into an event.