This week Mitt Romney will have successfully done two things. First, he deflected the backlash of a controversy he had launched against Obama, as well as attributing the recent Islamic upheaval in the Middle East to his [Obama’s] so-called weakness.
Secondly, he destroyed, finely minced, atomized and incinerated the rare positive effects detectable after “operation seduction” at the Republican convention at the end of August. If he counted on capitalizing on his version of “compassionate conservatism,” his little offensive against the “47 percent of victims” (politically incurable and therefore electorally negligible) in the population, revealed by a video of one of his appearances at a fundraising gala, depicts him more as a cynical, condescending, fat cat. And the Democratic campaign will take full advantage of the one subject — Romney’s employment and business ethics — which must necessarily be the Republican leitmotif until November.
In Mitt’s defense, one must plead the necessity of this type of fundraising exercise: The video dates not from yesterday, but from May 17, a point at which Romney, the presumed Republican nominee, still needed to win the approval of his party’s hardliners and, what was even more difficult, the regional sponsors, the redneck small-town conservatives. It took place, in this case, in Boca Raton, Florida, in the $4.5 million home of the ineffable Marc Leder, billionaire CEO of the firm Sun Capital Partners (and renowned party animal). As always with this type of event, the relatively prosperous public SME directors, who pay $50,000 a plate for the right to speak with the candidate behind closed doors, want their money’s worth.
Their check is supposed to unlock an evening behind the scenes of the campaign, the exclusive privilege without the presence of the press or the so-called confidences of a man on show. They will not be presented with the waffle thrown at the majority of people, but instead the rough connivance reserved for true friends, suddenly set up as equals to the presidential candidate’s closest counselors. Those invited find they have something to liven up their own dinners in town over the months following, with the look of over-informed conspirators. “Darling, you remember what Mitt mentioned to us…”
This is perhaps why the press is never admitted to these profitable confabulations of the “happy few.” Because the candidates sometimes say anything to charm the audience, or more often, accompany banalities with pretend “straight talk” and a shrug of the shoulders — impossible to broadcast on television.
Obama was also caught unawares when a hidden camera at a similar Democratic fundraising dinner showed him in the process of analyzing the electoral faults of ordinary folks in a period of economic crisis: In such uncertain times, “it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion…” That was in… April 2008, and the Republicans are still talking about it on the campaign trail.
About this publication
Circulation: 437,800 (2006)
Owner: Socpresse (80% owned by Dassault)
L'Express, France's first weekly news magazine, was modelled on the American magazine Time. Its first editor was Francoise Giroud, who had earlier edited Elle and went on to become France's first Minister of Women's Affairs in 1974 and Minister of Culture in 1976. The magazine has a right-of-centre orientation.