What could Romney's handlers be thinking when they hyped his connection with Donald Trump -- fundraising with Trump, offering supporters the possibility of a meal with Trump, relishing Trump's attention and endorsement?
Trump signifies everything Romney presumably doesn't want people to associate with himself -- conspicuous wealth, arrogance, hubris, and a distinct preference for money over all other human values.
Trump, like Romney, represents almost everything that's wrong with the American economy today -- an unprecedented amount of wealth and power at the very top, widespread insecurity and declining real wages for everyone else, and a form of casino capitalism that places huge bets with other peoples' money and depends on everyone else to bail it out when the bets turn sour.
But wait a minute. Perhaps Romney's handlers are smarter than they seem. Maybe Mitt has decided to let it all hang out. Rather than try to hide what's obvious to everyone, the new strategy is to make Romney's liabilities into assets by flaunting them. Be even bigger and bolder. Money rules!
In fact, they're mulling an even bigger and bolder move. They recall how Bill Clinton's choice of Al Gore as running mate in 1992 -- someone very much like Clinton -- accentuated Clinton's youthful energy, the new generation he represented, and the new start Clinton wanted to give America.
So they figure Mitt's choice of Trump as running mate will allow Mitt to celebrate his boundless capacity to make money, the "I've got mine and the hell with you" financiers and CEOs he represents, and the social Darwinism that he and the regressive right are convinced will be good for America.
The new bumper-sticker: ROMNEY-TRUMP IN 2012. YOU'RE FIRED!
ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.
Follow Robert Reich on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RBReich