Political pundits are twittering about the Fox News mole who’s sending gossip to Gawker. The mole’s first dispatch: Mitt Romney chatting “off camera” with Hannity about his and his wife’s horses.
Most of the commentators are talking about how this points to the candidate’s elitism and wealth. Dressage (pronounced “dressahj” like in French) is indeed an elite equestrian sport, in which the riders dress up in top hats and tail coats, and the horses do all manner of unnatural gymnastics like pirouetting and skipping sideways.
More interesting to me than the elitism/wealth discussion on political blogs, however, was how Romney talks about his horses – the language he uses, and what this might tell us about his relationship to animals just generally.
Hannity: What kind of horses have you got?
Romney: She has Austrian Warmbloods. It’s a dressage horse, it’s a horse for the sport that she’s in. Me, I have a Missouri Foxtrotter, so mine is like a Quarterhorse, but a much better gait. It moves very fast and doesn’t tire. And it’s easy to ride, meaning it’s not boom-boom-boom. It’s just smoother.
Hannity: … Smoother?
Romney: Very smooth.
He might as well be talking about cars or household appliances. The horses are always referred to as “it”, and Romney describes his horse in terms of speed and smooth ride. No mention of any relationship to “it” – that he might care about the horse, or that he loves spending time with her, or any of her fun quirks as a living being. Just that “it” is fast and smooth.
This all just adds to the narrative that began when we first heard about him putting the family dog, Seamus, on the roof of the car for the 12-hour drive to Canada.