Many years ago, my friend Marcus delightedly brought over his latest purchase, along with the usual two six-packs: an early twentieth century etiquette book. As we got drunker, he kept finding ever more hilarious admonitions in its yellowed pages, reading them out loud in his thick German accent. “Don’t ever discuss personal topics in front of children or servants,” he recited, giggling and gesturing with his finger on his lips toward my friend Judy’s boyfriend, who was going through a rough spot in his career and was then cleaning Marcus’ and my apartments each week.
Poor Mitt Romney evidently spent too much time with the Book of Mormon and not enough with Amy Vanderbilt, and somehow missed this important lesson.
Last night we finally got to meet the guy who thought to tape Mitt Romney’s comments at a $50,000 a plate dinner in Boca Raton, Florida, a video which is widely considered to be the final nail in the coffin of Romney/Ryan’s much-hyped but risibly ephemeral Fall “momentum.” His remarkable interview on MSNBC’s “Ed Show” made clear that what drove him to release what he caught was really just a natural reaction to the Class Warfare that is clobbering us all. As offensive as the “47 percent” portion was, it wasn’t what moved Scott Prouty, the lowly bartender, to action.
Being part of a nation of servants, tactfully shielded from what their Betters are saying, was. The catering company Prouty worked for had sent him to similar events; he fondly recalled Bill Clinton deigning to take time out of his soon-to-be-plutocrat day to stroll back into the kitchen and praise the service and the food, and even pose for pictures with, gasp, the help. He therefore brought his camera, but things turned out a bit differently at this Republican event.
In Prouty’s account, Romney waltzed in late and demanded that things start yesterday, grabbing his Blanche DuBois lemon Coke from Prouty without so much as a thank you, and left in a torrid rush afterward. But in between, he said some things that pissed off Prouty (and most Americans) to a degree that made him the laughingstock we know today, rather than the ruler he and his lovely wife Ann thought he was entitled to be back then.
Taking the increasingly rare position that people who can’t pay $50,000 to meet a politician might also deserve to know what’s going on, Prouty casually set his phone on that bar and hit “record.” The laughable easiness of the act, immortalized in an SNL skit mocking it, revealed a bitter truth: the plutocrats who so openly desire to rule our lives are actually blithering idiots, who, incidentally, never read old etiquette books, and are thus too clueless to know when to STFU.
And why would they? They are allowed to say the most preposterous things and espouse the most destructive policies each and every day, and still be treated with absurdly unwarranted reverence in the Village Media. But sadly for them, even in the blissfully cossetted world they inhabit, there still are watchdogs, mainly because these people can’t survive for five minutes without someone waiting on them. Someone with no health insurance. Someone making minimum wage. Someone sick of letting rich assholes get away with screwing them over and treating them like shit.
It wasn’t a biased media, too many darker Americans voting, or misguided messaging that defeated Romney. It was, in the end, the Servant Problem. And it also was the greatest thing ever.
Prouty has reportedly agreed to talk about an alliance with the United Steelworkers Union, to continue working for the priorities of working Americans to make these contemptible, and worse, dumb, 1%ers accountable to the rest of us, and unfortunately he will probably need its legal muscle to defend himself at this moment.
Had Romney only spent an evening with a drunken German once in a while, rather than going to bed at 9:30 after a soft drink, things might have turned out differently. For the worse.