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The Romneys’ Irony Board

I say, let’s give Clint Eastwood a break. Does it really surprise you that the man tasked with introducing Mitt Romney became so frustrated by this assignment that he resorted to an eleven-minute interview with an empty chair? There is something oddly appropriate about Eastwood’s introduction, because the Republican candidate is an empty suit.

Even Mitt’s own wife, struggling to make her husband seem human, delivered a speech that sounded empty. Until Eastwood’s speech on Thursday, the most indelible image left in my mind by the Republican convention was Mitt and Ann Romney eating dinner on an ironing board.

Perhaps I’ve become too cynical. There really should have been no room for criticism after Ann Romney finished playing her role as the loving wife. There she was onstage basking in the rosy glow of telling us how much she loves her husband, how he makes her laugh–without a single anecdote to share his sense of humor with us. But then she went on to describe how they struggled too in the early years of their marriage. They rented a basement apartment (okay, plausible enough). They put an old door on two sawhorses and used it for a desk (skepticism creeping in here). And they were so poor they used an ironing board as their dining table.


Okay, I know it may seem like nitpicking for me to criticize. After all, Ann Romney loves “you women!” (By the way, kudos here to her speech writers–you women is such an improvement over you people.)

But seriously, with the desk, I thought, oh come on, sawhorses! Everyone knows you put your old door or piece of plywood on two file cabinets. It’s more stable and a more economical use of space. But okay, why nitpick. Maybe they were so poor, they couldn’t afford file cabinets.

But when the Romney speech writers trotted out the ironing board as dinner table line, they blew it. That is a pants-on-fire lie.

My husband and I have been salvaging furniture and re-creating our living room from dumpster stairwell give-aways and yard sales for decades. And yes, an ironing board can be repurposed and used for something besides ironing. But guess what, it works best for things you do–while standing! It makes a terrific countertop for selling baked goods at the farmers’ market. It could also be used for petition signing or voter registration drives.

But the one thing you don’t do with an ironing board is attempt to sit down at it and eat dinner on it. First, it would come up to your chin, so you’d be shoveling food from your plate right into your mouth. Second, you cannot sit across from each other. You’d be sitting side by side and both facing the wall. (Any illustrators or cartoonists are welcome to post their pictures of the Romneys dining at their ironing board.)

On a practical note, anyone who has lived paycheck to paycheck has certainly gone to yard sales and discovered that folding card tables and old formica kitchen tables are usually sold for less than the cost of a new ironing board.

So, a word of advice is in order to the platinum-spoon crowd who writes the Romneys’ speeches. You almost had me, but when a line like this ironing board nonsense slips through and not one person on your staff has the background, the experience of paycheck-to-paycheck living to see how ridiculous it looks and hear how phony it sounds, well, you just gave yourselves away as the platinum-spoon folks that you are.

So when I recall the highlights of the Republican convention, I remember Ann Romney’s empty speech, Eastwood’s eleven-minute interview with an empty chair, and their nomination of an empty suit as their candidate. Do you see a theme emerging here? I do, and it’s not We Built That.

Still, I should try not to be too cynical. After all, Ann Romney loves “you women!” Now, what could be wrong with that?

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Janet Rhodes

Janet Rhodes