Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger has announced his endorsement of Mitt Romney just as Romney's campaign has embraced the slogan of Friday Night Lights character Coach Taylor, "Clear Eyes. Full Hearts." Are the two related? The critical moment for Bissinger was the presidential debate last week, in which Romney looked like he wanted to be president, and President Obama did not. Coincidentally -- maybe? -- Romney's campaign tweeted a photo of Romney touching the slogan the night of the debate, as seen at right. Ann Romney sent supporters a fundraising email Sunday afternoon with the subject line, "Clear Eyes. Full Hearts."
The endorsement of FNL aside, Bissinger's endorsement is peculiar. He is endorsing Romney for telling a cold truth that is actually false, and for Romney's possible lie about his tax plan. ("I think Romney realizes that lowering the marginal rate to 20 percent will not fly if he is to lower the deficit and make the plan work," he writes.) The author's endorsement is meant to carry more weight because he is from a wealthy New York neighborhood where people are super liberal. (As everyone knows, no endorsement matters unless the endorser would naturally hate the endorsee's guts.) But it's the endorsement of Romney's 47 percent line that's the most odd for a guy famous for writing about the class conflicts of high school football in Odessa, Texas. He says:
By instinct I still cling to my Democrat roots. But I admit that as I get older, on the cusp of 58, I am moving more to the center or even tweaking right, or at least not tied to any ideology. Those making more than $250,000 should pay more taxes, and that does include me. But I also am tired of Obama’s constant demonization, of those he spits out as “millionaires and billionaires,” as pariahs. Romney’s comments at a fundraiser were stupid, but 47 percent of Americans do not pay federal income taxes. Yes, a majority are poor and seniors. But millions do not pay such taxes with incomes of more than $50,000, and whether it’s as little as $10, every American should contribute both as a patriotic obligation and skin in the game. This is our country, not our country club.
What the country club line means, I don't know. But the idea that 47 percent of Americans are moochers with no "skin in the game" is so obviously false even Romney said it was "completely wrong" last week. Many of those making more than $50,000 a year and paying no income taxes are troops in Afghanistan getting combat pay. They have skin in the game in Afghanistan, where a percentage of the 47 percent has literally had their skin burned off by IEDs.
But Bissinger gets to a phenomenon we've noticed over the last year, in which rich people whine about getting their feelings hurt by demands they pay higher marginal tax rates even if they actually agree with those demands. It is not enough to be wealthy and influential. Even -- no, especially -- "millionaires and billionaires" and magazine columnists need an unceasing presidential bj to feel secure that the nation is on the right track.