Rich white people have two hobbies: controlling the government and tweeting about Mad Men. Which explains why, in less than 48 hours, Republican presidential candidate and walking quantum theory Mitt Romney has suddenly found himself the unwitting subject of two separate Mad Men-related Twitter arguments. On Sunday’s Mad Men, Romney’s father got a shout out when Henry Francis was overheard yelling into a telephone, “Romney is a clown and I don’t want him standing next to him!” This was a reference to Mitt’s father, Governor George S. Romney, a Lee Marvin lookalike who infamously cratered his 1968 presidential run when he offhandedly commented that he’d been “brainwashed”* about Vietnam.
The eldest of Mitt Romney’s five sons did not take kindly to that throwaway dig: “Seriously, lib media mocking my dead grandpa?” tweeted Tagg Romney, and if you think that “Tagg” is a funny name, you should keep in mind that it’s short for “Taggart,” a moniker that could be the first or last name of a film noir hero. (Actually, “Taggart T. Taggart” would be a pretty sweet name for a detective.) It seems curious for Romney the younger to get upset, since people have been making fun of dead Kennedy grandpas for decades. But a closer examination of the tweet indicates that he was responding to a Politico story about the reference, so perhaps he didn’t fully grasp the emotional context of the line — that context being the presence of a fat-suited January Jones. (Politico writer Alex Burns has since tweeted that the Romney dig — again, a throwaway line voiced by a secondary character in a TV show watched by roughly 1/100th of the American population — “may mark the exact moment liberal confidence became hubris.” So I guess Fat Betty just handed Mitt Romney the presidency.)
But that wasn’t the end of Mitt’s Mad Men maelstrom. Former Obama consigliere David Axelrod told Charlie Rose on Tuesday’s This Morning: “I think [Mitt Romney] must watch Mad Men and think it’s the evening news. He’s just in a time warp.” At that point, Romney lieutenant Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted: “@davidaxelrod says Romney living in #MadMen ‘time warp.’ You mean, when unemployment was lower, and the economy was expanding?”
Axelrod hit back exactly 26 minutes later with this rejoinder: “No, when Russia was our greatest foe, bosses could dictate on women’s health & Etch-a-Sketch was a toy, not a political strategy.” (That’s a reference to Fehrnstrom’s collar-grabbing comment a couple weeks ago which compared Romney’s political philosophy to the children’s toy that was popular in doctor’s offices before five-year-olds started using smartphones.) Fehrnstrom pointedly ignored Axelrod’s response in his next tweet: “Actually, the toy that comes to mind on Obama and the economy is the Rubik’s cube. He’s got it all twisted around.”
I’d like to say that Axelrod won that debate, but in the never-ending schoolyard slap fight that is the American political process, there are no winners. Only clowns.
Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich
*Tom Swifty: “The military brainwashed me about Vietnam!” George said absentmindedly.