This weekend, Mitt Romney is starting his annual summer vacation on his lakefront compound here — a week of fun and family, though not entirely carefree.Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Still, a “highly orchestrated, highly competitive regimen of sports and games” sounds about as much fun to me as a prolapsed hemorrhoid or standing in line at the DMV, or going to the dentist, where at least you have an outside shot at scoring some painkillers. It might be tolerable if you could stay sauced all week, but, as if to twist the knife a little deeper, the Romney’s don’t drink. You’d be forced to endure a week of good, clean, happy, sober torture. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
The Romneys, 30 in all these days, spend their time away from the stresses of everyday life — like, say, wrapping up the Republican nomination for president — by following a highly orchestrated, highly competitive regimen of sports and games known as the “Romney Olympics.”
The Romney Olympics have long included a mini-triathlon of biking, swimming and running that pits Mitt and his five sons and their wives against one another. But after Mitt once nearly finished last, behind a daughter-in-law who had given birth to her second child a couple of months earlier, the ultra-competitive and self-described unathletic patriarch expanded the games to give himself a better shot.
Now they also compete to see who can hang onto a pole the longest, who can throw a football the farthest and who can hammer the most nails into a board in two minutes — not exactly the kind of events they’ll be giving out gold medals for in London this month.
And you would be forced. The Romney’s yearly gathering is mandatory.
Even as the close-knit clan embraces the childhood pastimes of a bygone era, summers here serve to enforce the bond of the primacy of this family. Trips to Wolfeboro are controlled and mandatory. There is no opting out.
One summer when Romney’s eldest son, Tagg, now 42, was working for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he told his father he wouldn’t make it to Wolfeboro. Baseball, after all, is a summer sport, and he didn’t think he could take a week off in the middle of the season.
“My dad said, ‘No, you will make it,’ ” Tagg recalled in an interview. So he showed up, noting, “I had to beg forgiveness from my bosses at the Dodgers.”
You’d think a 42 year old would have the balls to stand up to his old man, but apparently that second testicle hasn’t dropped yet. Then again, each Romney boy has about 20 million reasons to be subservient to father — more than enough money to finance having every episode of the Lawrence Welk Show re-released on Blu-ray.
So Mitt’s a hyper-competitive control freak who dominates his sons. No surprise there. Those are exactly the kinds of unappetizing personality traits that you need to succeed in business, and Mitt obviously has them in spades. He is, to my mind, a near perfect asshole. He can lay off two-hundred people on Friday and then have potato sack races with his kids on Saturday, a wholesome family man, without the slightest moral conflict.
What do you call a guy who is ruthlessly venal and dishonest in his business and political dealings, but who postures as a decent, honest man around the wife, kids and neighbors? Hmmm.
Don’t these dorks have any spirit? Hasn’t one of them ever had an independent thought, taken a drink, smoked a joint or went to a hooker, anything that would reveal the existence of an individual mind and pulse? Hasn’t one of them ever had a long dark night of the soul when he questioned the tenets of Mormonism? Have they ever read any books that weren’t officially sanctioned by the Church of Latter Day Saints? (Do they even read books?) Are hedge funds, the Romney Olympics and the Book of Mormon adequate nourishment for their souls? If so, they’ve lived sadly limited lives. This is doubly true for Mitt, an eerily narrow man who has no business making decisions that affect the rest of us.