Thursday, September 27, 2012

Glee—our calorie-free substitute for pleasure

Posted By on 09.27.12 at 12:34 PM

Makes the most complex issues scrumptious.
  • velkr0
  • Makes the most complex issues scrumptious.
A heads-up on Facebook led me to this story, which is supposed to gratifiy me at some level but doesn't.

The story, reported by TMZ.com: before Mitt Romney's son Tagg and his wife had twins through a surrogate last year, they signed an agreement that gave them "the right to abort the fetuses in non-life threatening situations ... and Mitt Romney covered some of the expenses connected with the arrangement."

Wow! Such hypocrisy from the Republicans' pro-life candidate for president! Was it just an oversight, as Tagg Romney's attorney told TMZ, that the pro-choice clause wasn’t removed from the agreement? Might have been. Did Mitt Romney have any idea what the agreement said when he anted up? Who knows?

But you know what? Paragons of pro-life virtue do have a way of getting around their own rhetoric when it's family, don't they?

So lap it up, progressives.

If Romney were riding high in the polls, maybe I'd react more enthusiastically than queasily to TMZ's eye-opener. And maybe, when that Florida video surfaced a few days ago, I'd have bounced up and down with glee and marveled, "If this doesn't open people's eyes nothing will."

But even though what Romney had to say to fat-cat donors was revelatory and important, I couldn't get past the fact he'd said it in the privacy of the home of one of the fat cats. If Romney suffers from an old-fashioned, conservative assumption that there are—must be—times and places when it is safe to speak incautiously—well, so do I. If the details of Romney's son's surrogate agreement are normally none of my business, I'm not so sure the presidential race actually changes that.

What's my reward supposed to be for getting the low-down on Tagg Romney? Nothing more than a flicker of glee—a sharp, ephemeral twinge of empty delight. Glee doesn't even rise to the level of schadenfreude, which at least is satisfaction felt in the genuine misfortune of others, not in some ethical inconsistency we won't let them get away with.

A presidential campaign is the time when all the big issues get raised, every last one of them as a gotcha moment for hooting partisans. Politics seduces us with cheesy pleasures, and that's cheesy as in Cheez Whiz.

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