I watched the new Mitt Romney documentary last night and really, really liked it. It’s no great piece of filmmaking, but it does a lot for me on a lot of levels:
This is the first real glimpse we have behind the scenes, to the “off the record” stuff that goes on between a candidate and his family. you can see it really does matter to them, and you can see how invested they are. you can see what happens on a good day and what happens on a bad day – and how hard these guys take it when things go wrong.
It shows Mitt as a real(er) person. Everyone who watches this movie is going to say, “Where was THIS guy during the campaign?” Maybe people who went to fundraisers and rallies saw it up close, but most people just saw a very wooden, rich, white guy through the TV cameras, whose fate was sealed with the 47% comment because it confirmed everyone’s worse fears about Mitt; that he was totally out of touch with middle-class and poor America.
To continue the previous point – It does actually confirm that Mitt is kind of a stodgy, rich, white guy from the northeast. The way you see him relate to his family is in stark contrast to the way you see him running his campaign. And it’s no wonder people can’t “be themselves” when running for political office at that level – a truly middle class American would be so uncomfortable and out-of-place riding around on a private charter, dressing in 3 different sets of clothes all day long, putting all your energy into pretending to be interested in everything everyone said to you at a rope line or fundraiser. Politics is a rich man’s profession. And let’s not pretend that’s new, either. All of our “founding fathers” were rich, white men – and nothing’s changed since. (Except the “white” part.)
It confirms what I’ve long believed about the Republican party – that it’s a party of old white men who all get in line to run for office. I can’t remember which brother said it, but he basically confirmed that the 2008 defeat was simply Mitt’s preparatory performance – that it was McCain’s turn – and that it would be his “turn” next time. In my mind’s eye I’ve always been able to see Mitt’s call to McCain before conceding the race. McCain would say something like, “Mitt, if you throw your support behind me now, I’ll be there for you with an endorsement in 4 years” — and I can see that same phone call happening between Mitt and Rubio or Ryan at the end of Mitt’s loss as well.
On the more positive side, it shows an awesome Mormon family being totally, normally Mormon. We see a well-functioning family with members being helpful, members keeping him grounded, grandkids being part of Mitt’s life – and Ann keeping it all together. A couple of very sincere, very un-staged family prayers are shown. It actually kind of makes me want to be a Romney in a way – that they have such well adjusted relationships to each other that they can so easily relate to each other and that parents can take so much counsel and rely so much on their grown children. It’s really something to envy.
The “flipping Mormon” segments are HILARIOUS! Such a double entendre for the Mormon crowd… For those who may be reading this who are not Mormon. “Flip” or “flipping” is a somewhat famous euphemism in the Mormon crowd for the real F-bomb. When Mitt was getting hammered in the 2008 primary race for being a flip-flopper, we get to see his reaction to this with his family — who at the time was really worried about the way Mitt was being introduced to America — and their concern that America would only know Mitt as a “flipping Mormon.” Then they said it about 20 times. Funny inside joke.
Finally, I really identified with Mitt with one single thing he did during the movie – picked up trash. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen video of Mitt doing trash duty. There was some footage that got into official campaign stuff – which might have seemed staged or purposeful – but let me say from one Father to another and from one Mormon priesthood holder to another – I can relate to Mitt picking up trash. I feel like I spend most of my time at home milling around the house picking up trash. I was taught from a young age the importance of picking up trash at Church, and spent a lot of teenage years setting up chairs and picking up trash as a young Mormon priesthood holder. In this thing, Mitt is a man after my own heart. When you’re bogged down, trying to figure something out, stressed, tired, or just bored – you can always find some trash to pick up or take out to the curb.
Here’s a fun clip of him on Jimmy Fallon and the link to the Netflix movie: