TART

A few details of Romney’s domestic agenda really need ironing out

Special to The Globe and Mail

Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, stands in front of a large image of her and her husband earlier in their lives as she addresses delegates during the second session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. (SHANNON STAPLETON/REUTERS)

It has been more than a week since the Republican convention ended, a week I believe I’ve put to good use. In an effort to understand the concerns of America’s struggling families, I’ve been trying to re-enact one aspect of the early years of Mitt and Ann Romney’s marriage.

During her speech at the convention, as if to counter accusations that she and Mitt have never faced the kinds of hardship many Americans families face, Ms. Romney described their lives as students: Their dining-room table was an ironing board in the kitchen, she said, upon which they consumed “pasta and tuna fish.”

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And so for the past week I’ve been serving my family all their meals on the ironing board.

As a result, I have a few questions I wish I could put to Ms. Romney: First of all, did they sit directly across from one another, on the long sides? In our household, we’ve found this to be impossible, but maybe the Romneys had only the tiniest of plates and were very careful never to lean forward at the same time. In which case they certainly deserve support from the teeny-tiny-plated and elegantly postured community.

Or did they sit, as we here tried this past Tuesday, offset along the table, in which case didn’t they hurt their necks? Or were they not talking to each other?

Or if they sat at the very ends of the table, some distance apart, who got the end with the point? Because there’s no way I’d vote for a man who made his wife take the end with the point.

In order to be dined upon comfortably, a dining-room table should be around 36 inches wide. Maybe the Romneys had a fantastically wide ironing board, which would have made it nearly impossible to do Mitt’s shirts properly – but perhaps, in order to make ends meet, Mrs. Romney took in laundry and did the shirts of giants with three-foot-wide shoulders.

Perhaps when Ms. Romney yelled, “I love you, women!” (so anxious are they for women’s votes that the GOP convention felt like three days of that uncomfortable moment when a man yawns, stretches and slowly puts his arm around you in a movie theatre), in her heart she was giving a special shout-out to whatever fellow laundresses of the garments of storybook monsters were in the crowd. Perhaps they will vote for Mitt, I don’t know.

The only thing I know for certain after my family’s experiment with Romney-style ironing-board dining is that our clothes smell like fish and our tuna tastes like starch.

And for the love of God, Ann, please tell me how doing this saved you any money, because I cannot remember a time in my life when I couldn’t scrounge up a table but owned an ironing board. I’ve concluded that we’d be better off picnicking on the floor.

I plan on coupling that knowledge with what I learned at the rest of the Republican convention, which is that there’s no problem that cannot be solved by opening a small business.

Unemployed? Open a small business. Underpaid? Open a small business.

Can’t afford another baby? Open a small business. Have an autistic child? Open a small business.

In a convention markedly devoid of specifics, at least there was that. I came away so hopeful: If my car won’t start, I’ll open a small business. I‘m sure a dab of small business will arrest a run appearing in my tights. Overwhip that cream? Just add a splash of small business. Syria needs more small businesses.

And every successful person at that convention could give you the reason for their success – it was born of a small business. Even though that small business may have been started three generations ago, and might have been an oil well.

I have no objection to big business, but small business was put forward at the convention the same way people always show you the baby version of any ugly-ass species of animal they want you to love.

Never mind the fact that most people aren’t in the financial position to open a small business. Or aren’t suited to run their own businesses. Or that half of all small businesses fail in their first five years.

So, based on my accumulated Republican-convention wisdom, I’m going to open my own small business, a small consultancy firm.

For a fee, I’ll come to your house and tell you which surfaces to eat off, sort of like this: “Table? Yes. Counter? Sure. Baby? No. Dog? Not unless it’s very lazy. And even if circumstances force you to live out the Walker Evans photo that apparently was the early years of the Romney marriage, do not eat off the ironing board.”

Follow on Twitter: @TabathaSouthey

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