Skip to main content

James Poniewozik in TIME (unfortunately, behind a firewall) analyses the infamous Romney 47% video from a rather unique perspective: that of the hardworking staff catering the event. He argues that the video itself creates a near-perfect tableau of the yawning chasm that exists between the 1% and the 99% in 21st Century America.

...the most fascinating thing about the Romney video is how it's literally framed. We're watching him from what looks like the polished surface of a serving table, the hidden camera surrounded by gleaming barware, a decanter of wine and a candle, tucked away behind the objects of service. We can hear him loud and clear, but we can see only the tiny blur of his head and the backs of his supping $50,000-a-plate guests.

We see and hear everything, in other words, from the furtive vantage point of the help.

With telling strokes, Poniewozik fleshes out his tableau:

As Romney bemoans the culture of dependency in the background, servers in the foreground rustle up ice cubes. As guests ask about the stock market's prospects and why Romney doesn't more aggressively assert pride in his success, white-gloved waiters refill drinks. As donors loudly applaud a secondhand Marco Rubio story about aspiring to wealth through hard work, a waitress quietly asks for clean martini glasses.
The author concedes that all politicians at some point in their career are forced to schmooze behind closed doors with their wealthy donors, but for a man like Mr. Romney, whose sole human and moral value seems to be that of a bag with a dollar sign on it, getting caught doing so is doubly damaging.
And if you are Mitt Romney, with Mitt Romney's biography, résumé and bankroll, there are certain things you don't want to be filmed saying in a dining room full of toffs in a Boca Raton, Fla., mansion that looks like a location from Eyes Wide Shut (and whose owner reportedly threw a tabloid-notorious sex party at an estate in the Hamptons). The visual and class ironies couldn't have been better laid out by the set designer for The Remains of the Day. As guests and candidates discuss the intractability of the dependent classes, cutlery clinks, stemware tinkles, a cork pops. You half expect someone to hoist a champagne flute, adjust his monocle and declare, "A toast, gentlemen! To industry!"
In other words, if you saw it in a movie, you might think it overdone.

Poniewozik concedes that he doesn't know how anyone on that catering staff feels about Romney or the Ayn Randian philosophy he was espousing. Perhaps, he admits, one or two of them even envision themselves someday sitting at that table while others wait on them.

But when Romney talks about the "entitled" 47% whom he could never persuade to "take personal responsibility and care for their lives," I'm thinking, So does a cater-waiter in south Florida, maybe with kids, earn enough to owe income tax after deductions? When a guest asks, "How are you going to do it, two months before the elections, convince everybody, You've got to take care of yourself?" I'm looking at the server grabbing barware and thinking, You think she's got a health-insurance package? Does it not feel the least bit awkward up there? Because it sure does back here with the wine glasses.
Like a scene from a modern-day Downton Abbey or the TV show Revenge, this video provides the perfect illustration of class division in our nation today.

3:05 PM PT: Thanks everyone for the recommendations and the compliments.  Much appreciated.

Several of those commenting did a far better job than I at really crystallizing the uneasy relationship that has existed between the elite and the "help" down through the ages - and how this incident brilliantly captures that relationship.  Some of the comments are diary-worthy in and of themselves in fact!

Originally posted to Rolandz on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 09:26 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Barriers and Bridges.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

skybluewater, Sharoney, GainesT1958, Thumb, Julia Grey, Mimikatz, jo fish, CJB, Bailey, Bill in Portland Maine, filkertom, MadRuth, grollen, ogre, Gooserock, flatiron, NYmom, cici414, tommurphy, alicia, Shockwave, Minnesota Deb, Vaughan19, donna in evanston, Wintermute, chuco35, tacet, SanJoseLady, OLinda, Stein, eeff, Mnemosyne, kenlac, Pompatus, xynz, LeftHandedMan, blksista, Matilda, MarkInSanFran, exNYinTX, Caneel, hubcap, Creosote, Theodoric of York Medieval Liberal, kissfan, RubDMC, eyeswideopen, rasbobbo, NoisyGong, missLotus, 88kathy, Babsnc, TracieLynn, sponson, cyberKosFan, BlackSheep1, magnetics, annrose, boadicea, Dont Just Stand There, JJG Miami Shores, roses, Dhavo, mauricehall, Ignacio Magaloni, retLT, larryrant, bwren, fumie, thea lake, Siusaidh, splashy, Cedwyn, CocoaLove, dksbook, aitchdee, wader, revsue, Quege, Lilyvt, hopesprings, psnyder, hangingchad, annan, emmasnacker, TexDem, Farugia, Miss Jones, pat bunny, wordene, exiledfromTN, Damnit Janet, yet another liberal, QuoVadis, Steven Payne, Catte Nappe, rlharry, lcrp, Green Tea, 313to212, Brian82, Sophie Amrain, Diana in NoVa, zett, zerelda, Sembtex, Curt Matlock, lonespark, KayCeSF, Vicky, tomjones, Pola Halloween, Sybil Liberty, bibble, thereisnospoon, My Philosophy, Gowrie Gal, davidkc, gradinski chai, maybeeso in michigan, bloomer 101, historys mysteries, Bluesee, pacplate, 3goldens, Tinfoil Hat, Ckntfld, ichibon, LarisaW, SherwoodB, stlawrence, Chinton, sc kitty, PBen, Alice Venturi, BCO gal, dewtx, drewfromct, stagemom, YucatanMan, eru, scribe69, majcmb1, mergenow, aaraujo, ladybug53, Kayakbiker, blue jersey mom, markdd, PinHole, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, spunhard, Lisa Lockwood, turdraker, Cory Bantic, Beezzley, peacestpete, Land of Enchantment, kathny, Oye Sancho, xaxnar, Jim R, begone, reddbierd, Doug Goodenough, martini, snazzzybird, BachFan, detroitmechworks, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Kingsmeg, cybersaur, Themistoclea, hungrycoyote, HoundDog, Yellow Canary, seefleur, mskitty, deha, NNadir, arlene, global citizen, wild hair, 4Freedom, jerseyjo, SadieSue, paul2port, JVolvo, middleagedhousewife, justiceputnam, BlueMississippi, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, BB10, Stripe, blueoregon, kurt, SD Goat, Compostings, Bernie68, ms badger, AllanTBG, sea note, Nulwee, DBunn, gtaylor, One Pissed Off Liberal, old wobbly, Sapere aude, threesmommy, goheelsgodems, Cronesense, drmah, camlbacker, moodyinsavannah, Dartagnan, gloriana, puakev, jds1978, FishOutofWater, jeanette0605, noofsh, terabytes, deepeco, joedemocrat, newpioneer, rantsposition, jayden, GMFORD, cyncynical, mamafooce, jhop7, OIL GUY, pioneer111, Wreck Smurfy, uciguy30, KathyinSC, madgranny, sheiladeedee, Azubia, TomP, Empower Ink, gizmo59, rmonroe, JDWolverton, rogerdaddy, JayC, mayrose, Amor Y Risa, mconvente, HappyinNM, wayoutinthestix, OleHippieChick, Youffraita, Involuntary Exile, elwior, filby, treesrock, lineatus, infojunkie, Akonitum, mikeconwell, tofumagoo, Cassandra Waites, RandomNonviolence, smartdemmg, Jeff Y, SottoVoce, glendaw271, makettle, sagansong, Guadalupe59, Mayfly, sydneyluv, GrannyOPhilly, shortgirl, squarewheel, fayea, JBL55, oldliberal, 207wickedgood, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, maggiejean, Bule Betawi, multilee, bluemoonfever, rubyclaire, Kansas Born, litoralis, lilsky, CanyonWren, pvlb, susanWAstate, dfe, mkor7, Hopeful Monster, aunt blabby, elziax, zizi, MKSinSA, aj2k, johnosahon, Denise Oliver Velez, kevinpdx, Keith Pickering, Mom in Maine, dalfireplug, PoliticalJunkessa, astral66, spicecakes69, Essephreak, davespicer, Nannyberry, porchdog1961, Larsstephens, Words In Action, BlueOak, Railfan, bronxcharlie, smileycreek, coppercelt, marabout40, Laurilei, T Maysle, NJpeach, estreya, gramofsam1, politik, cindiloohoo, voracious, catwho, on board 47, Melissa J, freeport beach PA, mjbleo, JoanMar, gulfgal98, pixxer, ItsSimpleSimon, kacemo, Anne933, Puddytat, apip0115, sharonsz, Texnance, Betty Pinson, DaveinBremerton, eclecta, Loose Fur, petesmom, ZedMont, wwjjd, dwayne, AdManAnt, Quantumlogic, Pakalolo, Onomastic, Jane Lew, praying manatheist, redlum jak, Byblis, yellow cosmic seed, kerflooey, MidwestTreeHugger, Sal Bovoso, Mico0109, msazdem, grannyboots, sostos, AuroraDawn, La Gitane, iowacaucus, asterkitty, OhioNatureMom, kevin k, wsbuffalo, KelleyRN2, it really is that important, Hohenzollern, zukesgirl64, sethtriggs, IllanoyGal, thomask, Santa Susanna Kid, slooterdam, LSmith, poliwrangler, VTCC73, Caddis Fly, Marihilda, SoCalSal, SteelerGrrl, thejoshuablog, DRo, Mentatmark, CoyoteMarti, Auriandra, ParkRanger, PrometheusUnbound, ArtemisBSG, BlueDragon, AnnetteK, livingthedream, Only Needs a Beat, stormicats, OldDragon, anodnhajo, sow hat, We Won, IndieGuy, Jakkalbessie, dance you monster, oldcrow, just want to comment, S F Hippie, a2nite, Deep Texan, AreDeutz, 2thanks, congenitalefty, CA ridebalanced, Horace Boothroyd III, kat herder, BusyinCA, MartyM, parakeet, ricklewsive, brae70, james321, avsp, arizonablue, dotdash2u, George3, Marjmar, Robynhood too, Sue B, Prospect Park, DamselleFly, ebailey, blue water boy, Eric Twocents, JayRaye, dennis1958, dear occupant, mtnlvr1946, parsonsbeach, Bugsydarlin, howabout, Constantly Amazed, rosarugosa, northerntier, helpImdrowning, FourthOfJulyAsburyPark, nice marmot, Diamond Mind, blue91, Heather in Midtown, pragmaticidealist, sparkysgal, OregonWetDog, IMKILROY, Kendra Marr Chaikind, DressageDonkey, progressivist

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site