Recently I had a dream that one of my publications was big enough and safe enough that I could get an interview with Mitt Romney. The thought of someone having enough access and gravitas to actually ask a hard question is indeed “just a dream”, but the following interview gets pretty close.
Derek Johnstone is an Urban Outfitter-attired 30-something hipster from Seattle, and he’s the associate editor of “Like, Whatever” Magazine… the quotation marks are part of the title, meant apparently to be ironic.
Johnstone was brought in to consult the campaign on how to win over the independent vote, and what follows is their exchange.
Mitt Romney – [sarcastically] Boy, you really dressed up for this meeting, didn’t you?
Derek Johnstone – See, that’s the problem. Just like telling the people in single-use ponchos they “really sprung for the big bucks.” You failed the first test independents care about, you’re a condescending a**hole.
Romney – Look, I don’t appreciate that kind of language.
Johnstone – And you failed the second test. You’re a fuddy-duddy. Like when you called the cops on those people smoking pot on the beach.
Romney – I don’t have to deal with this guy.
Johnstone – And you failed another test. You can’t disengage just because it’s not convenient.
Romney – Are we finished here?
Johnstone – Why are you running for president?
Romney – This meeting is over.
Johnstone – Wrong. Fail. Try again. Why are you running for president?
Romney – Because I have a vision that will lead this country forward–
Johnstone–Really? Because that’s not how you’re running your campaign. You’re running like you’re entitled to be president and you’re just waiting for the huddled masses to come around and realize it.
Romney – My experience–
Johnstone – Which experience? As governor, CEO or just your individual success story, because we’re not allowed to talk about any of those. You’ve got the [Salt Lake City] Olympics but you gaffed that up, not to mention that we can’t talk about it either. You just shut us down and say we’re supposed to focus on the economy.
Romney – But the economy is in serious trouble.
Johnstone – Right, and nothing you have proposed will fix that. You’ve already convinced the base, but just wishing hard enough isn’t going to convince independents that the policies that put America in trouble in the first place are somehow magically going to pull us back out of them.
Romney – But [independents] don’t know what my policies are.
Johnstone – Right, because you haven’t actually stood up for anything except the Ryan plan, which is at best a disaster and at worst a looting of the treasury to benefit the super-rich.
Romney – We need to take action, and fast, if we’re going to take back America.
Johnstone – Take it back from whom, exactly? Take it back to where? Most of us are better off now than we were when Bush left office.
Romney – We need to take it back to balanced budgets, for one thing.
Johnstone – How are you going to do that?
Romney – Well I’ll meet with top policy advisers and come up with–
Johnstone –You won’t tell us your policies? It’s kind of a big deal. It’s kind of the whole deal. You won’t tell us your policies, you won’t release your tax returns, you won’t let us talk about Bain or your time in Massachusetes. What’s left that we’re actually aloud to talk about, what you say on the campaign trail?
Romney – The media has been very unfair to me out there.
Johnstone – Grow up. They’ve been easy on you to make it look like a closer race because that sells newspapers. They haven’t called you out as a liar for your constant flip-flops and outright fabrications.
Romney – Are you calling me a liar?
Johnstone – No, I’m saying the sky is green. Get real. You lie constantly. Let me show you by asking you a favor. I’m coming into some money soon from an inheritance, tax-free, mind you. What should I invest it in?
Romney – Blue chip stocks are always a safe bet. Maybe an Index Mutual Fund.
Johnstone – So you admit that all my pennies from heaven shouldn’t be used to create jobs. The whole deal where you call rich people “job creators” is a lie and everybody knows it. Me having extra cash I don’t need and dumping it in Coca-Cola or Home Depot is good for me and my money, but it won’t create a single job.
Romney – I think we’re finished here.
Johnstone – If you can’t have a frank discussion with one independent, how can you ever expect to win the votes from any of us?