"I'll tell you what. Ten-thousand bucks? Ten-thousand-dollar bet?" -- Mitt Romney
A lot of people are raising a stink about Mitt Romney making $10,000 schoolyard bets while running for president in a nation where the child poverty rate is 19.8%.
They're scoring cheap points by pretending that Mitt Romney doesn't understand the value of a dollar -- like he throws wads of it around just to bully people about nothing.
And they're inciting all kinds of unpleasant class warfare by pointing out that $10,000 is a pathetically small amount of money to Mitt Romney.
But they're missing the point.
It's about honor.
Let's say Rick Perry is lying about Mitt Romney and insulting his character (by hinting that one edition of a book Romney wrote says health insurance is good). If you were a normal man, and another man kept brazenly and systematically lying about you and insulting your character, and you asked him to stop, and he didn't -- you'd probably threaten to punch him in the nose.
I mean, if something really important was at stake. Like leading the free world.
But Mitt's not a man of violence. That's why he sat out Vietnam in France. All Mitt Romney cares about is money. So when you've pushed Mitt Romney so far that he's actually willing to risk money on a bet? That's like running over Mad Max's family, to you and me.
If all you ever thought about in your life was money, and how to get more, telling someone to eat their words or give you some is like Rock Hudson fighting the racist at the end of Giant.
Here's the other thing. Rick Perry is barely a millionaire. So 10 grand would mean a lot to him, if he could count. So telling Perry to put up or shut up was a balls move. And Republicans love balls moves. As Romney campaign spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom explains it:
"It made Perry look weak, because he knew Perry wouldn't take it."
Weak and poor? What kind of Republican is weak and poor? He might as well be gay.
When you really think about it, this brouhaha is a perfect illustration of why it's so hard, in Obama's America, to be a super-rich white businessman.
Let's say Mitt Romney's honor is worth $10,000. I mean, that's what he's willing to risk to defend it. Romney is worth somewhere between $200 million and $250 million. Probably closer to the lower figure, since quite a lot of it was in the Bank of Yokohama, and they're not what they were a year ago. So let's go with $200 mil. Ten thousand dollars is 0.005% of $200,000,000.
So the going Republican primary price for honor is 0.005% of your net worth.
This means honor is yet another area, as if we needed one, where the job creators are carrying the poor on their backs.
According to the Center for Community Economic Development, the median wealth of a single black woman in America is $100.
At Mitt Romney rates, she can defended her honor for less than one one-thousandth of a penny.
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