Posted Thursday, March 29, 2012, at 5:28 PM
The latest Andy Kaczynski blast against Mitt Romney is this video from a 2004 Republican Governor's Association meet. The joke: Romney's mocking Kerry's giant house, but Romney himself is in the news for a Kublai Khan-esque renovation of his own house!
I think some of the original meaning is lost here. The joke wasn't just that Kerry had a massive house. Romney's wealth wasn't exactly a secret. It had helped win the governor's mansion for him. No, when you heard this joke you were supposed to remember how Kerry earned his Beacon Hill mansion, the home he'd famously mortgaged to save himself in Iowa. He married Theresa Heinz, who was loaded. "The house is jointly owned by Mr. Kerry and his wife," explained William F. Buckley in a column around the time that Romney made this joke. " If he divorced her, one assumes, she would keep the house, to say nothing of her fortune."
That's the point. Romney made his money. Kerry married a wealthy widow. It was the sort of political hit you only made if you had a knack for subtlety.