Today, Peggy Noonan publishes an interview with Mitt Romney so spongy and cottony that “softball” doesn’t begin to describe it — it’s more like a Nerf ball interview. (“Do you wake up in a good mood, or do you have to work your way into it?”) This is obviously meant to show Romney in the best possible light, and to humanize him — but even so, Romney can’t help himself, and communicates this to Noonan (emphasis added):

Before rallies and town meetings, he always tries to have private, off-the-record meetings with voters. “I sit down with five or six couples or individuals and just go around the table, and I ask them to tell me about their life. And the stories I hear suggest a degree of anxiety which is not reflected in the statistics.” He is struck, he said, by the number of people who are employed but in legitimate fear of being let go. He is struck by the number of people who’ve made investments for their retirement — real estate, 401(k)s — and seen them go down.

Wait — we’ve been dealing with the effects of this financial collapse for four years, and Romney is surprised to learn that people fear losing their jobs? He’s just now figuring that out?

And though the line on Romney is that he’s relentlessly data-driven, he apparently has spent four years overlooking the fact that anxiety about job loss is “reflected in the statistics”:

* February 29, 2009: People Fear Losing Job the Most: Poll
* September 14, 2009: Lots of Fear Remains Over Economy, Job Losses, Poll Finds
* April 23, 2010: One in Five Americans Fear Job Loss in Next 12 Months
* April 24, 2012: Americans Now Fear Job Loss More Than Tanking Credit

And it never occurred to him until now that middle-class people have 401(k)s, and that they’re invested in stocks and bonds, which went down when the economy cratered? No combination of data inputs allowed him to intuit that? He didn’t know until he went among the peasants and they explained it to him?

We know Romney has claimed to understand the fear of job loss as it applies to himself. I guess he had to leave his multiple mansions to learn that these fears, and economic hardship in general, affect the common people.

(X-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)

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