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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Quiet Rooms—formerly known as the Back Rooms

Posted By on 01.12.12 at 03:00 PM

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Mitt Romney has fleshed out his thinking on the "class warfare" by which President Obama is—in Romney's view—dividing the country. We have the Tribune's Eric Zorn to thank for bringing Romney's views to our attention.

On his blog, Zorn has posted a transcript of Romney's conversation Wednesday with Today show host Matt Lauer. "I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare," said Romney. Lauer was puzzled. He asked, "Do you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious?" And Romney said there's a time and a place for questions such as these, and that place isn't the campaign trail. "You know," said Romney, "I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like."

Quiet rooms. Where policy gets made and emotions aren't allowed to run high.

But where to find a good quiet room? Government is so damned noisy.

As Romney fleshes out his idea, he might want to boast about his access to Washington's unrivaled authority on the quiet room. This would be former vice president Dick Cheney. While the George W. Bush administration was under way, Cheney hammered out the nation's energy policy as head of an Energy Task Force that held meetings with top executives and lobbyists of the oil, coal, gas, electricity, and nuclear power industries. They met in rooms so quiet that it took lawsuits to tease out any information at all about who was in them.

It was decorum's finest hour. If Romney intends to emulate Cheney's example he needs to say so.

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