The New York Times has once again done what it does best, sliming someone whose politics do not conform to the house code.
In this case, the Times was reporting how Mitt flew coach on a Delta flight to Boston and was supposedly “aloof” with passengers around him. In one case he preferred to read the paper and listen to his iPad rather than engage in a conversation with the person next to him regarding her ideas on health care. In another case he said he was unable to respond to another passenger’s request for a recommendation for a restaurant in Boston.
Commenting on the article, “Kathy” from Connecticut illustrates several of the reactions to be found to that piece (By the the way, there are several comments that support Mitt’s reaction.):
The guy clear doesn’t have many social skills — but why force yourself into situaitons like this. [sic]
Fly first class or rent a plane, Mitt. You’d be better off than trying to “act” like a normal person by sitting in coach — but then being stand-offish.
He tries to “act” like a normal person and has no social skills? This accusation came after the person cited said that he had accepted to be photographed with her, then an hour into the flight listens to her claim that she had read the entire healthcare legislation before he responded politely, “I understand.” then dons his headset.
Well, Mitt really is much more “normal” than such folks realize and does fly coach quite often. This fact is pointed out by some of the people who commented on the article and is illustrated by an experience he had in coach, which was widely reported in the media. Mitt was leaving Vancouver in February of 2010 after attending the Olympic Games on an Air Canada flight to Los Angeles. The article pointed out that Mitt and his wife were seated in the economy section, and as they were taking off, the passenger seated in front of his wife Ann did not return his seat back to its forward position. After Mitt requested compliance, the passenger became violent and took a swing at Mitt and he and his baggage were removed from the flight before takeoff.
It is perhaps normal for people to assume they know the kind of person that Mitt is, but anyone who has known him for any length of time knows that prejudices don’t match reality. Sure, his father had made a lot of money rescuing American Motors and had been the governor of Michigan. My experience being around Mitt 45 years ago, however, never revealed that he thought he was any different from anyone else. And of course, Mitt later made a lot of money himself, which by all accounts was because he worked very hard.
On a more personal level, when flying back from San Diego a couple of years ago, a skycap was helping me check my bag at the curb check-in stand. I saw that he had been reading Ron Paul’s book, The Revolution: A Manifesto. Thinking of the previous election cycle, I asked him if he knew anything about Mitt Romney. He replied that he had helped Mitt and his family a lot with their bags when they fly out of San Diego. He volunteered that Mitt was always a nice guy and never failed to give a generous tip. He also exclaimed in a tone that seemed to reveal a high degree of admiration, “He usually flies JetBlue!” For those who don’t know, this might be called an economy airline.