Romney's 'firing' riff is more revealing than it seems
Mitt Romney's opponents are taking unfair advantage of his maladroit remark that he likes "being able to fire people who provide services to me." Romney, of course, was talking not about dismissing or downsizing employees but canceling a contract with a private health insurer. So the shots at him are cheap, though irresistible.
But Romney's use of this particular F-word is revealing in a different way. Breaking or not renewing a contract is part of the capitalist system, but why use the word "fire"? In its ordinary meaning, it refers to a boss sacking an underling, a hierarchical transaction. What if Romney had referred to a divorce as a husband "firing" his wife? Why couch the insurer-insured relationship as one of hire-and-fire? Perhaps because you're a boss temperamentally and historically.
Yes, but wasn't Romney speaking metaphorically? Sure, but our choice of metaphors tells a lot about us. What Romney's choice told us is that he sees the world in terms of bosses and employees.
-- Michael McGough
Photo: Mitt Romney campaigns at Exeter High School in Exeter, N.H., Jan. 8. Credit: Charles Dharapak / AP Photo