Brow Beat

The Going Rate for Mitt Romney’s Soul Is Apparently a $215.57 Meal at Jean-Georges

Lloyd, Tuesday night’s guest bartender at Jean-Georges.

Warner Bros.

On March 3, 2016, Republican Party elder Mitt Romney gave a speech about Donald Trump in which he listed the then-candidate’s defining actions as “bullying,” “greed,” “showing off,” “misogyny,” and “absurd third-grade theatrics,” called him a “con man,” a “fake,” a “phony,” and a “fraud” who was “playing the members of the American public for suckers,” and, worst of all, said that when it came to foreign policy, Trump was “very, very not smart.” As recently as October, here’s how Romney felt about the Republican nominee:

On Tuesday night, Romney described President-elect Trump’s picks to lead the government—a parade of horribles that include Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Jeff Sessions, who Slate’s Jamelle Bouie correctly described as a “a white nationalist provocateur; an anti-Muslim conspiracy-monger; and an apologist for a regressive, anti-black politics,” respectively—as “solid, effective, capable people.” Romney went on to say that he had “increasing hope that President-elect Trump is the very man who can lead us to [a] better future.”

The very man! So what changed? In a word, frog legs. Romney dined Tuesday with the president-elect and his incoming chief of staff/ancient hobgoblin Reince Priebus at Jean-Georges, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s flagship, three-Michelin-star restaurant at the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York. Was Romney—reportedly being considered as secretary of State, despite opposition from Trump insiders—aware he was dining with His Satanic Majesty himself? Judge for yourself!

Twitter was, naturally, delighted with Romney’s pained expression and Trump’s even-more-demonic-than-usual grin:

It’s completely understandable that Mitt Romney, that corporate looter and Cruella De Vil manqué, would sell his soul for money, or power, or proximity to money and power. But for a man with a car elevator and a dancing horse, who could have imagined the cost would be so very, very low? Here’s what they ate:

They’re being a little modest with the “chocolate cake” dessert, perhaps to appeal to Trump’s base—the chocolate cake at Jean-Georges comes with a hibiscus sorbet, and seems to be offered only as part of a dessert tasting that also includes such down-home favorites as olive oil powder and macadamia nut milk, crystalized rose, and the all-but-inescapable passionfruit gelée. But besides exposing what seems to be a dessert white lie, the dishes mean we can reconstruct the bill. It seems that Romney ordered the $138 Price Fixe menu, which allows a choice of three dishes, and paid a $15 upcharge for choosing the lamb chops. (Trump and Priebus were less price-conscious, paying an extra $25 for the prime sirloin.) So, assuming the restaurant allowed the President-elect’s party to substitute in the garlic soup at no extra charge, his meal cost $138, plus $15 for the lamb, plus $12 for dessert, plus $14.64 tax (at 8.875%) plus a 20% tip—though if anyone’s a bad tipper, it’s Trump—of $35.93. This means the total cash price for Mitt Romney’s credibility, dignity, and immortal soul was approximately $215.57—at a restaurant where the signature tasting menu costs $218. Plus, maybe, the office of Secretary of State.

A budget price like this is frankly insulting to the rest of the country, and none of us should stand for it. For less than $250, you could afford to buy Mitt Romney. I could afford to buy Mitt Romney, and I’m a culture blogger. We’re Americans—at a bare minimum, we should be able to count on the upper classes to provide entertaining Trimalchian excesses as they strangle us to death, not settle for three sorry courses and a wine glass full of tap water. Once you decide to live deliciously, as Romney obviously has, this kind of frugality isn’t just bad business, it’s rude. So make Donald pay for the caviar, Mitt, even if you don’t like it—it’s all gonna smell like sulfur and taste like ashes in your mouth anyway.