Democratic Convention 2012

NYT Asks: Will Mitt Romney's Muffin-Eating Habits Alienate Immigrants? Or Just Remind Us of Seinfeld?

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Via Hot Air comes a link to one of the saddest political commentaries in recent memory: a broadside against GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Seinfeldian preference for eating just muffin tops rather than the "stumps."

As Stan Lee used to say in his Soapbox column in Marvel Comics, read on, Macduff!:

SOME supporters of Mitt Romney, in an effort to make him seem more human (or at least humanoid), have been disseminating a story, first told by a biographer, about how their candidate has a charmingly eccentric habit: he eats only the tops of muffins. His theory is that during the baking process, the butter sinks to the bottom. This story conveys so many things: our guy is an everyday Joe — he eats muffins, not crumpets. And look, even his breakfast is an opportunity to make disciplined decisions — just think how he'll do with the budget.

The author of the New York Times piece is Marie Myung-Ok Lee, who teaches creative writing at Columbia. Her father, she notes, was a staunch Republican whose experiences during the Korean War transformed him into a waste-nothing kind of guy. Indeed, Lee writes,

Despite being a physician, he happily ate foods tipping into rancidity. He drank sour milk. He reheated coffee. He once bought some Sheba Tender Terrine with Turkey and Chicken dinners, impressed by their cheapness, and would not be dissuaded from finishing his supply when we informed him with horror that it was cat food…. 

The big finish:

I can only imagine what he would have had to say about a presidential candidate so heedless he eats only the top off a muffin. No matter how loyal a Republican, my father would likely have declared Mr. Romney a very silly, profligate man — not the kind of man to be trusted with his precious tax money. Perhaps his vote would have gone to a Democrat for the first time ever. Politico has declared the Asian-American vote "key for both parties."  Will muffin-top-gate cause other immigrant parents to join their Democratic-leaning children?

Read the whole thing here. Weep for your country on your own time.

Let's ignore Lee's (and the Times') uncritical acceptance the notion that the Asian-American vote will swing the election (or that there's a group mentality shared by Pacific Islanders, Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, and others included in what the government calls Asian Americans). The Politico story linked in Lee's piece notes that a wide majority of Asian Americas voted for Obama in 2008 and he's expected to win a majority this time around. But a Mittens spokesman tells Politico "we're going to show the Asian community that we care," so, you know, things will be different this time.

If this is what is passing for insightful, or even funny, political commentary, we have once again entered a world in which politics imitates situation comedy.

Write it down, kids: If comedy = tragedy + time, then politics = Seinfeld + time. Back in the 1990s, that great excresence of late-capitalism built a whole episode around the preference for muffin tops. Indeed, the show even built in a class-warfare angle, with a homeless advocate angrily protesting the donation of uneaten "muffin stumps" to the down and out.

Watch the whole thing here, redacted to just the plot about the muffin tops.