LIVONIA, Mich. – In a 2010 episode of “30 Rock,” Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) coins a term to describe the act of succeeding marvelously at solving problems: Reaganing. I’ve been wondering what to call a habit of Mitt Romney’s – his occasional, accidental mentions of how wealthy he is. Romney rarely “gaffes,” in the sense that he usually keeps strictly on the message of the day. (This is made easier by his hands-off approach to the press. Example: He has not held an open “availability” for reporters in three weeks.) Romney’s gaffes are almost always related to his economic status. See: Making a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry on a debate stage. Or see the one nugget of news that escaped his Daytona 500 visit.
Asked by the AP reporter if he follows NASCAR, Romney responded, “Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans. But I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.”
The reference to “ardent fans” would have been enough; the reminder that he sups among the super-rich was totally gratuitous. This is what we can now call “Romneying” – unforced references to one’s own economic success.
Is this stuff relevant to his campaign? It’s more relevant than the occasional advance team goof, because it’s elemental, and everyone running against Romney relishes this stuff. Last night, at a rally in Davison, Rick Santorum went off on a riff about how unique his candidacy would be. “I would be the first Republican nominee since, I think, Ronald Reagan,” he said, “who didn’t grow up in a wealthy family.” Romney would be the wealthiest man ever nominated for the presidency; adjusted for inflation, I think he’s only beaten out by Washington and Jefferson.
So spread the word: Accidentally bragging about your place high up in the economic stratosphere is Romneying.