Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), left, Roger Sterling (John Slattery),… (Frank Ockenfels / AMC )
Many worlds collided Sunday night on the second episode of this season’s long-anticipated “Mad Men”: Don Draper and the Rolling Stones. Fat, depressed Betty and Don's mod new wife, Megan.
And a sideways swipe at George Romney, a onetime presidential candidate, that had many wondering if series creator Matthew Weiner was implying something about his son, Mitt, front-runner in the current Republican presidential campaign.
In the episode, Betty’s new husband, Henry Francis, a Republican political operative working for New York City Mayor John Lindsay, tells someone on the phone, “Well, tell Jim his honor’s not going to Michigan. Romney’s a clown, and I don’t want him standing next to him.”
Was it a gratuitous knock? A setup for a future plot point? A comment on current events?
And was Romney, then the moderate Republican governor of Michigan, really considered a “clown” by fellow Republicans? (An AMC spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.)
The “Mad Men” episode takes place in the summer of 1966, less than two years after Romney, a proponent of civil rights, had high-profile disagreements on that and other issues with the GOP’s conservative 1964 presidential nominee, Barry Goldwater. In a much-publicized event, Romney walked out of the 1964 GOP convention in San Francisco in protest of Goldwater’s famous statement that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Romney’s departure was observed from a balcony, according to news reports, by his 16-year-old son, Mitt. Afterward, George Romney said he would “accept” but not “endorse” Goldwater.
More than a year later, in September 1967, Romney made a widely mocked comment about having experienced a “brainwashing” by American generals when he toured Vietnam in 1965. That remark has often been cited as a gaffe that helped sink his own presidential aspirations in 1968, and also as a reason that his son, Mitt, is so cautious on the campaign trail.
Monday morning, Mitt Romney’s oldest son, Tagg, tweeted the family displeasure at the “Mad Men” dig at his grandfather, who died in 1995.
“Seriously, lib media mocking my dead grandpa?” Tagg wrote. Moments later, he added in a second tweet, “George Romney was as good a man I’ve ever known. Inspirational leader, worked for civil rights, promoted freedom. We need more like him.”
AMC spokeswoman Marnie Black said the incident was based on historical information. “Lindsay and Romney were known political rivals,” she said.
Original source: George Romney called a 'clown' on latest episode of 'Mad Men'