JONATHAN CHAIT AUGUST 6, 2010
Scott Brown won a Senate seat and made himself a conservative star with the massively-successful ploy of driving around in an old car, to show that he was not as rich as he actually was. The stunt was so successful that Mitt Romney has decided to... drive around in an old car:
A pickup-driving image helped put Scott Brown in the U.S. Senate, so is Mitt Romney hoping it will drive him to the White House?
The 2008 Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor drove a beat-up pickup to a New Hampshire fundraiser Thursday night. He's also driven it to other political events as he weighs another run in 2012.
Spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom (FERN'-strum) says Romney has owned the Chevy since 2002 and uses it for errands around his New Hampshire lakeside vacation home.
This move violates a basic cultural principle. It's pretty well known that when a grabby ploy works, the next guy who follows it up has to raise the bar. NBC created a hit show, "Diff'rent Strokes," about a white family adopting a tiny, cute black kid. So ABC followed that up with "Webster," which was about a white family adopting an even tinier and cuter black kid. That's how you do it. He does stunt X, you do X+1.
If Romney wants to grab attention with a proletarian-mobile, he needs to one-up Brown. Maybe drive around a tractor. Or a Beverly Hillbillies-style jalopy, with all his possessions and family members hanging out:
Doing the exact same move as Scott Brown is just weak.