Back in the dark days of 2004, John Powers wrote an excellent book about the curious psychology of the American right called “Sore Winners.” His argument, in a nutshell, was that Republicans today are simply never happy. No matter whether they have billions of dollars, control of the government, or, at worst, a cushy wingnut welfare gig with lifetime tenure, the poor things are still pissed off. Somewhere, someone doesn’t think they’re the bees knees and fails to kiss their asses in Macy’s window, and they are in a perennial temper tantrum about it.
Bush was the perfect example of this, especially after 9/11: although he did happen to be the worst President in American history, anyone with the temerity to even gently cast aspersions on the stupidity, incompetence, cravenness, and and overconfidence that richly earned him that title was immediately branded a traitorous America-hater and was ruthlessly hounded out of the public discourse. Yet, to the right, Bush was the victim. Sure, he was the President, albeit barely, and he had gotten pretty much everything he wanted politically, creating just the disaster the America-haters predicted, but all that, and a “Mission Accomplished” Barbie of himself, to boot, still wasn’t enough. He still felt a quite pathological need to punish the doubters, and he repeatedly did so (through surrogates, natch…) with unseemly relish.
Fast forward to today, when Mitt Romney is deservedly being ridiculed for his airy dismissal of the worthless, mooching 47% of America who will always vote “Democrat” because, well, they’re miserable freeloaders. Naturally, he was surrounded by delusional, parasitic rich people, each of whom, for reasons only their psychologists could explain, think they’re somehow under siege and are nervously circling the Bentleys. The obscenely (in more ways than one, it turns out….) wealthy hedge fund manager who was his host surely nodded in agreement even though everyone knows that his tax rate is lower than that of a teacher. Frankly, it’s hard to square the neoliberal notion that wealth is the due reward for intelligence and hard work when the very Americans with the most of it are this feeble-minded.
These people are deserving of pity, but for the exact opposite of the reason they so feverishly imagine. They live in an an upside down world and are utterly divorced from reality; I wouldn’t trust them to cut their own food. No, Thurston, no one is about to take all your money and give it to darkies. The 3% tax rate increase currently proposed amounts to less than your weekly hooker budget, but leaving that aside, you self-entitled whiners are just loathsome to behold. The revoltingly porcine Australian heiress who laments the piggishness of people who refuse to work for $2 per day. The Scott Walker-loving Wisconsin billionairess who cries herself to sleep each night because the very existence of unions hurts her tender feelings. Jamie Dimon, Sheldon Adelson, the Kochs…. ’nuff said.
What makes these tortured souls worthy of universal disgust is that they have so much and yet what bothers them is that anyone else has anything at all. They wake up each morning, with all their billions, in a bad mood. But rather than doing the sensible thing, like buying another mansion, fur, or the Hope Diamond, they have decided to buy the government, so they can screw over the little people instead. In many ways, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are the embodiment of this sore winner mentality: both were born into wealth, both have taken full advantage of government money for themselves when they could, and both plan to make others suffer for their own personal gain, all the while painting themselves as victims.
Given that the Romney campaign was already imploding, this gaffe probably won’t be decisive; in fact, a lot of Fox-addled mouth breathers previously uncomfortable with Romney will now be enthused enough to fire up their Hoverounds in November, something CNN (!) commentator Erick Erickson has already predicted. But it will help cement in the minds of normal Americans what they’ve always thought of Romney and the party of which he is a too common product: the rich are in fact different, and in the worst possible way.