Interlude—A bollixed professor calls bullroar: We’re always happy to hear from Professor Mead in one of the dream visitations such figures are allowed after they have returned to the heavens following a period of “advanced study” here on the earth.
Early this morning, we received such a visit. The great anthropologist posed an ironic question:
“Is Ann Romney running for president?”
At issue was the latest front-page profile of Romney—Ann Romney, that is—by the New York Times. In recent weeks, the fatuous paper has offered three sprawling reports on the wife of the candidate, along with that other absurd front-pager.
As of 5 o'clock this morning, this coverage had Mead confused:
Sunday, May 27: "In Rarefied Sport, a View of the Romneys' World"This latest profile was the one which had Mead briefly confused. “I briefly wondered if I had been clear about which Romney was running,” she said.
In this 2300-word report, the Times explored Ann Romney’s love of dressage. This “news report” graced the front page of the Sunday newspaper.
Thursday, June 7: "The Candidate Next Door"
On the front page of the Home section, the Times presented a sprawling report about the way some of the Romneys’ neighbors in La Jolla with Mitt Romney’s views. (La Jolla is foreign for “the jewel,” the alert Michael Barbaro said.)
Thursday, June 14: "Writing Her Own Dress Code"
On the front page of the Styles section, the Times offered this detailed assessment of Ann Romney’s wardrobe, outfits and clothes. (“Wearing breezy wrap dresses, form-fitting sheaths or mismatched prints that cautiously flirt with runway trends, Mrs. Romney, a seemingly traditional candidate’s helpmeet, nonetheless turns her back now and then on the nondescript cardigans and milk-carton suits that are the standard camouflage of women on the stump,” the fatuous Ruth La Ferla informed us.)
Saturday, June 16: "At Romney’s Side, a Determined Running Mate"
On the front page of this morning’s paper, the Times takes its latest extended look at Ann Romney. Mitt Romney? He can go hang!
In her earthly life, Mead had trained herself to see the logic in a wide range of cultural patterns. But even she, with all her training, couldn’t tease out the logic in this.
The Times has gone on and on—and on and on—about Ann Romney’s hobbies, blouses and temperament. But to date, what follows is the "newspaper’s" fullest attempt to explain the way Mitt Romney conducted himself during his tenure at Bain Capital. In this deeply-buried account, a frankly puzzled Julie Creswell just couldn’t seem to figure certain things out:
CRESWELL (5/24/12): In the case of GST Steel, a manufacturer based in Kansas City, Mo., that Bain bought in 1993, the company, according to a Reuters article this year, issued new debt that was used to pay tens of millions of dollars in dividends to its buyout owners. That sent GST's debt levels and interest payments soaring, which eventually pushed it into bankruptcy.Apparently, someone “underfunded” GST’s pensions. But who exactly did this thing Creswell couldn’t bring herself to tell. And by the way, this bowdlerized account of some very bad conduct didn’t adorn the Times front page. Those are paragraphs 24 and 25 of a 26-paragraph report, a report which appeared inside the newspaper. You had to read all the way to the end to get even that scrubbed account.
When the bankruptcy was announced, the company also said that it was shutting down a mill, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs, and that it would not provide workers with severance pay, health insurance and other benefits. The company's underfunded pension was eventually bailed out by the federal government. But not explored in the campaign ad is that GST was a company already well in decline in an industry under pressure from cheap global product before Bain acquired it and pumped money into it. It was one of many steel manufacturers that filed for bankruptcy during the period.
"Even the Tchambuli didn't bury their dead this deeply," the famous anthropologist quipped.
Appearing to us in a dream visitation, Professor Mead rolled her eyes at this emerging cultural pattern. “I’ve defended a lot of unusual practices,” she ruefully said. “On this one, I’ve got to yell bullroar!”
The irony was striking. In her second Folkways album (FW05536), Professor Mead had actively celebrated “Voices of Women in American History.” But even she had never dreamed that she would see women come this far! She never dreamed she would see a woman used as a beard by the Times while her successor liberals in the the great liberal world burbled, slumbered and snored.