December 17, 2007

"It said my house is pink. I would not have a pink house, I assure you."

Says Mitt Romney. Context:
MR. RUSSERT: This was The Boston Globe back in December of '06. "As Governor Mitt Romney explores a presidential bid, he has grown outspoken in his criticism of illegal immigration. But, for a decade, the governor has used a landscaping company that relies heavily on workers like these, illegal Guatemalan immigrants, to maintain the ground surrounding his pink Colonial house." That was a year ago. A year later, The Boston Globe came back and the same company and illegal immigrants doing the same work. Did you report that company to authorities saying--a year ago--saying they're using illegal immigrants?

GOV. ROMNEY: Oh, it was, it was on the front page of The Boston Globe; a reporting was not necessary. But I have to clear up the most egregious error in that article. It said my house is pink. I would not have a pink house, I assure you. In an effort to--let me, let me describe the circumstance. And that is the very issue I just mentioned, which is we need an employment verification system in this country. I hire a landscaper to take care of my leaves and, and mow the lawn, and, and the landscaping company hires people to work for them. We're certainly not going to have an America where a homeowner is expected or even thought of going out and saying, "Gosh, I see some workers here who have an accent. I want them to bring papers so I can inspect them." As a matter of fact, I think that's against the law in this country. And so, in this case, the, the landscaper, or the contractor has a responsibility to ensure that their workers are legal.

Watch him say it here (at 5:17). He laughs. It's a joke. (Planned?) But why is it funny?

The last time we talked about the meaning of pink, it was that locker room at the University of Iowa which was painted pink to taunt or weaken the visiting team. It was subject to feminist critique:

After protesting the pink locker room at a Hawkeye home game in November, Jill Gaulding plans to file a complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972...

"This [is] understood as a funny version of the slur that goes on in athletics about playing like a girl, playing like a sissy"...

"It’s based on a concept of gender hierarchy that says not only are boys and girls different, but more important it’s better to be a boy than a girl; it’s shameful to be a girl," said Gaulding, who is researching a book on cognitive bias and gender discrimination. "Anyone who’s not deeply in denial understands and acknowledges that the pink locker room taps into this very long tradition of using gender as a put-down."
So what does it mean to say I would not have a pink house, I assure you? It was a joke that he planned and inserted into the interview. He laughed to make sure you understood that it was a joke. But how are we to understand it as a joke? What is he trying to say?



IN THE COMMENTS: Palladian offers up the perfect film clip:



Glorious. I was picturing Mitt singing that song. Or maybe some Mitt impersonator on "Saturday Night Live." (I bet Giuliani would do it.)

TerriW said...
I guess he's not afraid of alienating the John Cougar Mellencamp fanbase.
Not to mention The Band.



AND: Commenter and New Orleans resident Beth thinks Mitt doesn't know that he's losing New Orleans.

61 comments:

the wolf said...

Perhaps he was suggesting that pink is a hideous color for a house. I certainly think it is.

Maguro said...

He is trying to say: I can assure you that I am not a sissy.

jeweejewish said...

Ann, yesterday, on Romney's "Meet the Press" appearance.

he says that he still remembers when he heard that the Mormon church announced that it was abandoning its belief in discrimination. He was driving his car, he says. I am moved to tears. He then says, after I've started to cry, that he pulled over to the side of the road and wept. Now, that was well done. I felt the emotion in the story and cried before he says he cried. I don't normally cry at anything a politician says. I tend to laugh at anything sentimental, especially when it's at all self-aggrandizing

Kids, if you believe that you'll believe anything.

Ann Althouse said...

Let's stay on topic. You can discuss the crying thing in the context of sexual orientation issues and Mitt Romney, but don't derail this threat or I'll delete.

dix said...

I would never own an orange house. I apologize in advance if I offended anyone.

George said...

"They should go home eventually," Romney says.

Well, how is that going to happen?

No illegal in his right mind is going to notify the government of his presence here. Get a number. Right. Sure.

Romney also says something like "Well, we're not going to round them up and send them home."

Not all of them, but let's give it the ol' Cranbrook try, shall we, Mitt?

Guys like Romney are totally disconnected from day-to-day reality. Every day, every day I see day laborers blowing leaves, etc., and I ask myself, "How many are here legally? Better yet, how many are paying taxes? How many will get in-state college educations for their kids?"

As for the "pink house" bit, what a wuss this guy is.

Ain't that America...

TerriW said...

I guess he's not afraid of alienating the John Cougar Mellencamp fanbase.

jeweejewish said...


Blogger Ann Althouse said...

Let's stay on topic. You can discuss the crying thing in the context of sexual orientation issues and Mitt Romney, but don't derail this threat or I'll delete.


I love when Ann goes all authoritarian on us.

ricpic said...

Other than in South Florida, or maybe southern California, pink house = kook.

rhhardin said...

It's parasitic on the existing idea of pink flamingos and landscaping, and the laugh informs you to look for the idea. He would not landscape with pink flamingos -> he would not have a pink house.

There's lots of pink houses in warm resort-like areas and they're not generically feminine.

The benefit of the joke is that it defocuses the frame of the question.

He wisely avoided a lawn jockey allusion. There is danger in that direction.

Palladian said...

Think pink, think pink on the long, long road ahead. Think pink, think pink and the world is rosy red...

MadisonMan said...

What color is your house, Professor Althouse?

Pink Houses are handy for directions because they are rare.

Verso said...

Ann,
It's simple: Pink is for girls. That's what Romney was saying -- clearly.

I just had this conversation at work with some folks. All the guys insisted they wouldn't wear anything in pink -- ever, period. One guy recounted he had a favorite red shirt; after a few trips through the wash, it was losing color. One day, someone said to him, "Nice pink shirt!" He went home at lunch, threw the shirt in the trash, and went back to work wearing something else.

Pink is for girls; blue is for boys. One of my co-workers said this was genetic.

The women all thought the men were crazy; the men all thought the women were crazy for not understanding why they'd never wear pink.

I would just add, I come from a very small, very conservative town. I have no doubt this is a factor in the local attitude about pink.

But that's also the kind of mentality that predominates in the Republican Party, so even if Romney is metrosexual enough to wear pink, he's not going to admit it to the people he wants to vote for him.

Jim C. said...

There's a clear hierarchy: feminine, effeminate, gay, weak, emotional, on one hand (pink); masculine, straight, strong, reasonable, on the other (not pink).

Many criticisms of Althouse for crying rely upon this hierarchy.

Romney is saying: there's no way I'd ever do anything feminine, womanish, or gay. He is presuming: those things are bad.

Jim C. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim C. said...

Pink/blue, girl/boy parallels are relatively recent:

"There has been a great diversity of opinion on the subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl." [Ladies Home Journal, June, 1918]

Michael said...

Yeah, I think he's saying a pink house is a horrible thing. My house was purple when we moved in. Gay, straight, eccentric... it doesn't matter. There are some colors that houses should not be.

Chip Ahoy said...

First he discredits the report. If they can't report the color of his house right how can they possibly get right what's going on with the lawn? Then he answers the question about immigration.

My brother, an electrician, bless him, rigidly refuses to wear a pink shirt, which is a shame because he looks great in that color. He's most forceful on the subject.

This color-prejudice has gone entirely out of hand and must be reversed immediately.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Romney is saying: there's no way I'd ever do anything feminine, womanish, or gay. He is presuming: those things are bad.

Well maybe not bad but certainly not masculine. I think there is a difference. I knew a former co-worker, male, who would get his eyebrows done, manicures, highlights and was straight as an arrow. The funny part was unbeknownst to him was the reaction of most of the female staff who to nearly a woman said, they'd never date a guy prettier than them.

Personally I think a pink polo and grey slacks is a solid fashion statement. Beyond that, pink has no place in a man's wardrobe. Period. The debate is over.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Ever visit a guy's house and it's all pink with frilly stuff everywhere and it was obviously decorated entirely by his wife? I always think such dudes are pussy-whipped suckers.

I think he's making a gender comment, but not a sexual orientation one. He's saying, "In my household, I get to decide the color of the house. And everybody knows pink isn't seen as a manly color. So there's no reason why I would decide to paint the house that color." A gay man could have made the same comment. But the real force of the comment is, "I, not my partner, decide what color the house is." I'm not a pussy-whipped sucker. Ann takes it whenever I say so.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Ann Romney.

Trooper York said...

Babs Johnson: Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!
(Pink Flamingos, 1972)

MadisonMan said...

I have one pink shirt, and if I'm not too pale, it goes very well with my coloring, so I wear it sometimes in the summer. My parents' kitchen was resplendent in pink formica until about 1990, when they went beige.

Pink can make a nice statement, but as a exterior paint color? Here in Wisconsin at least it just screams bad taste.

Bruce Hayden said...

There appears that there may be a biological reason for pink being the girls' color.

It appears that females (on average, of course) are better able at distinguishing red than males are. There is a suggestion then that this is so they can better distinguish the more nutritious red leaves. This is tied in to the current theory behind why Old World Monkeys (including Humans) see in three colors, and most other mammals only see in two. The third color is red, and it apparently results from a duplication of the gene for one of the other two colors, and then tuning it towards the red by swapping base pairs. And, again, the justification for red was the extra nutrition in red leaves. If this is accurate, then it would not be surprising that that the gatherer part of hunters/gatherers would be more perceptive of this color.

I do see this comment by Romney as being that he wouldn't have a pink house because such would be feminine, which would be sissy, etc., and he would never do something so effeminate.

And this association of pink with females crosses the sex line. I had a girlfriend who went through my closet and removed anything that I had that was any color she considered effeminate. I thought that she had thrown them away, until I saw her daughter one day had ended up with a purple fleece (not my Electric Blue Patagonia fleece that looks like sheepskin - I threatened her life over that, when she claimed it had red in it making it effeminate).

Daryl said...

What does it mean? I think it means Romney is a feminist.

Because no self-respecting feminist would be caught dead in a pink house, right?

Pogo said...

Little pink houses for you and me.

I vote "not pink because it's garish AND overly feminine." I don't think it means much more than that. Bland acceptable-to-guys stuff is his thing.

A friend of my wife loves all the color on our walls. Loves it. Her walls, all of them, are beige. Beige! She just couldn't do it any other way. She likes our old Victorian painted lady. Her house ...her house!.. is also beige. Or mocha, if you stretch the concept.

I always think such dudes are pussy-whipped suckers.
Or they don't give a shit what color their house is because they don't give a shit what other guys think about them. She want's a purple-brown-whatever house?
Maker her happy?
Hell yeah.
You think it's unmanly and I'm whipped?
Hell no. In love, not "whipped", whatever that means.

ricpic said...

The attempt to pin some fear of being seen as unmanly rap on Republicans, based on Romney's comment, is laughable. A pink house in Massachusets is kooky. Wearing a pink shirt on a golf course, or with a grey suit, is not kooky. Got it, all you who insist the Republicans are a cartoon, types?

Trooper York said...

Mr. Vader: Do you believe in God?
Divine: I AM GOD!
Mitt Romney: I think I am going to cry.
(Pink Flamingos 1972)

Ann Althouse said...

My house isn't pink. It's "Incense." (That's what it said on the paint chip.) And I'm incensed if you think otherwise.

Ann Althouse said...

Here.

Bruce Hayden said...

There's a clear hierarchy: feminine, effeminate, gay, weak, emotional, on one hand (pink); masculine, straight, strong, reasonable, on the other (not pink).

Aren't Lesbians also "Gay"? Or is this why it is now PC to say Gay AND Lesbian? Not being Gay nor (obviously) Lesbian, I am not up on this sort of thing, but will be seeing a woman in an hour or so who is both, and uses the former about 5 to 1 to describe herself, etc.

Roger said...

having grown up in Miami and seeing all manner of pastel shades, I think pink works in sub tropical environments. Northern tier states, however, not so much.

Trooper York said...

Why do you even talk to me?
maby were you curious
You know you never had a love like this
My love was serious
Had you delirious
Don't front I found it in every kiss
You try and play me
Now I ain't your lady
When you just told me that you loved me
And you want me as your baby
Understand me
I new we can't be
Just as happy as anybody
Let your mom feel me baby
(Can't Take Me Home, Pink)

Ron said...

In that Funny Face clip Kaye Thompson even looks like Romney in drag!

Hoosier Daddy said...

My house isn't pink. It's "Incense." (That's what it said on the paint chip.) And I'm incensed if you think otherwise.

See this is why men are different from women apart from the obvious biology. Men see in 16 colors. Women make up names for colors. To us Peach is a fruit and not a color.

Bruce Hayden said...

I always think such dudes are pussy-whipped suckers.
Or they don't give a shit what color their house is because they don't give a shit what other guys think about them. She want's a purple-brown-whatever house? Make her happy? Hell yeah.


Or maybe just secure enough in your sexual orientation and not caring about the mate's nesting instincts.

But maybe that was why I ended up with a bunch of stuff that that one girlfriend thought too feminine - that she was the one who was worried about her sexual orientation (she does get hit on my a lot more of the same sex than I do).

Or maybe, she just worries a lot more about appearances than I do. I really don'c care what most people think about the house I live in or the car I drive, and she does. So, if she wanted a pink house, I would say, fine, paint away. Wimp maybe, but mostly it just doesn't matter to me.

Trooper York said...

Patrick Star: It was sure nice of Mr. Krabs to give me a job at the Krusty Krab.
SpongeBob SquarePants: And at $50 an hour. When I started out, I had to pay Mr. Krabs $100 an hour.
Patrick Star: I wonder if he knows that I am an illegal immigrant and that I live with forty six other illegal Mexican starfish in a pineapple under the sea.
SpongeBob SquarePants: Well he does know that you are a big pink loser.
(SpongeBob SquarePants, Big Pink Loser/Bubble Buddy 2000)

Bruce Hayden said...

See this is why men are different from women apart from the obvious biology. Men see in 16 colors. Women make up names for colors. To us Peach is a fruit and not a color.

So true, and it is worse when she is an interior designer. That electric blue jacket I had to fight to keep apparently has a dash of red or the like in it, and that is apparently why she objected to it. I couldn't see that if my life depended on it. To me it just looks vivid blue.

Palladian said...

"See this is why men are different from women apart from the obvious biology. Men see in 16 colors. Women make up names for colors. To us Peach is a fruit and not a color."

Bullshit. Tell that to every brilliant male painter in the history of art. This is just some weird, stupid American thing.

Beth said...

I agree with Chip; he was discrediting the reporting. And he got a little "I am so not gay!" thing in on the side.

He's lost the , too.

Pogo said...

"some weird, stupid American thing."

Indeed, Palladian, I believe that heterosexual men in the US are restricted to seeing only 16 colors by law.

Failure to comply can result in withdrawal of the right to make fart jokes.

George said...

Little Pink lyrics...

There's a black man with a black cat livin' in a black neighborhood
He's got an interstate runnin' through his front yard
You know he thinks that he's got it so good
And there's a woman in the kitchen cleanin' up the evenin' slop
And he looks at her and says,
"Hey darlin', I can remember when you could stop a clock."

CHORUS:
Oh but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free
Little pink houses for you and me

A song about what it's like to be poor and disenfranchised...Be a good "theme" song for Edwards...

Ron said...

Couldn't he drive down the freeway of love in a pink Cadillac?

Hoosier Daddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

And you can't blame the legacy of Puritanism for the weird American idea that men don't "see" or like bright colors. Puritans loved bright colors.

MadisonMan said...

Palladian, what you don't read at that site is that as soon as those drapes were washed twice, they faded to pink and were tossed.

john said...

Verso -

Yes, you are right, Rebulicans are very simplistic about house colors and political party, perhaps as much as you are.


In the southwest, entire chicken wire/stucco housing developments are painted Pepto-Bismol, but we never call it pink.

John Stodder said...

Methinks Romney doth protest pink too much.

I mean, that's the weirdest campaign promise ever. Especially if you're running for the privilege of living in a white house.

I grew up part of my childhood in a pink house, and my parents still live in it. It doesn't look the least bit feminine (or masculine). It looks like a nice stucco house in Southern California, painted in one of the colors often used on stucco.

There is something wrong with this Romney guy, something that only a pundit would miss. First the dog poop story, now this. No wonder he's losing the religious voters to Huckabee.

Freder Frederson said...

And, again, the justification for red was the extra nutrition in red leaves. If this is accurate, then it would not be surprising that that the gatherer part of hunters/gatherers would be more perceptive of this color.

Kind of a flimsy theory.

Wouldn't it be just as important for the hunter half of the dyad to distinguish red so he could more easily follow the blood trail of wounded game?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Or they don't give a shit what color their house is because they don't give a shit what other guys think about them. She want's a purple-brown-whatever house?
Maker her happy?
Hell yeah.


This is exactly what I mean by "pussy-whipped sucker". This kind of logic leads to wearing pink panties and a spiked collar on all fours eating your dinner out of a doggie-bowl in a cage in the basement while your wife cuckolds you on the living room floor with the illegal landscaper. Maker her happy?
Hell yeah.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I grew up part of my childhood in a pink house, and my parents still live in it.

Same here. But my room was painted blue.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Or maybe just secure enough in your sexual orientation and not caring about the mate's nesting instincts.

Really? I'm not sleeping in a bed covered with stuffed animals and ruffled frilly sheets that might suffocate me in my sleep. And I'm not living in a house that is decorated poorly just because I'm male so I'm not supposed to care. That is sexist. I shouldn't have to constantly look at ugliness where I live. I don't see how that is homophobic or insecure. But some stereotypical feminine ways of interior decorating are horrid and I'm not living in one of those environments. It would be torture.

So, if she wanted a pink house, I would say, fine, paint away. Wimp maybe, but mostly it just doesn't matter to me.

Yes, I would think a man who needs his bedsheets picked out for him by his wife has some issues. Why not just let her dress you! While you're at it, call her mommy.

Pogo said...

This kind of logic leads to wearing wearing pink panties and a spiked collar on all fours(etc.) ...on the living room floor with the illegal landscaper.

Didn't mean to open up old wounds for ya, Mort.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Didn't mean to open up old wounds for ya, Mort.

Hey, I got that scenario from reading StubbornFacts.com.

Palladian said...

Pink interiors can be beautiful.

Trooper York said...

Drudge report December 17, 2007
The Presidential campaigns were asked to comment on Governor Mitt Romney’s disparagement of pink houses. The Giuliani campaign stated that they were not in a position to throw stones even at pink houses. The Thompson campaign was still sleeping when called for comment. Senator John Edwards issued a statement that he would not have a problem living in a pink house and in fact often enjoyed sporting pink undergarments. The Clinton campaign could not be reached for comment, although former President Clinton stated that it doesn’t matter what color the outside was, that they were all pink on the inside. Then he found out they were in fact talking about houses ...developing

Cedarford said...

York - The Clinton campaign could not be reached for comment, although former President Clinton stated that it doesn’t matter what color the outside was, that they were all pink on the inside. Then he found out they were in fact talking about houses ...

Bwaaaaahaha!

But seriously, you know that when he was talkin' pussy with Vernon Jordan, Greg Norman and other pals out on the golf course he's say something just like that.

Bill, Hillary's #1 asset.

Of course if Hillary had been around she would have told Bill to stay clear of Huda..

Rob McGee said...

Language trivia: In colloquial Russian, the word for "pink" (rozovaya) is a euphemistic way to say "lesbian," while "blue" (goluboi) signifies "gay man."

Palladian said...

Before the 18th century Pink used to refer to a yellow watercolor pigment made from buckthorn berries. So what does Romney have against pink?

Of course you should be careful, because wearing pink can get you stabbed through your blood red heart. That is, if you're a man, of course.

The current English use of the word "pink" derives from the name of a common flower of the Genus Dianthus, the carnation. Does Romney allow illegal immigrant workers to plant pinks in front of his presumably beige house? Can a real man pose holding a pink? This man could, but he was the Holy Roman Emperor, something Romney will never be.

I think Romney's secretly a pinko!

Clang!Honk!Tweet! said...

ricpic is absolutely right:  Pink houses in Massachusetts are seriously weird.

When I was in grad school in California, we rented a pink stucco house with light grey trim.  It was 1957 for the owner: He had actually repainted it in those colors for 30 years.  The house was so hideous that we HAD to live there.

Fast forward to Massachusetts, and we just got through painting our house a very similar shade to Althouse's "incense."  It's in a historic district with tight zoning. 

What?  Pink Puritans?

Not really, just warm beige.  It turns out that color and others, ranging from brown to a light yellow, were made from locally-mined ochre.  My favorite is Bedford ochre or Bedford yellow, a pale yellow with just enough brown to knock the edge off the Tweety-bird effect.

Turns out that Colonial New England buildings were not as white as people think.  White lead pigment was imported and expensive, and the thrifty Yankees were more than happy to use local products.  So it wasn't unknown for a meeting house to have interior walls painted something like Althouse's color, with a light yellow trim.  Our pinkish-beige house with the brick-red trim is done in perfectly "authentic" colors—ochre and red lead, two of the cheapest paint pigments historically—although the modern chemicals reproducing those colors are quite different.  Also, in the 18th century, the fact that my house was painted at all would have set it above many of its neighbors.

Anyway, Colonial buildings could be fairly colorful, and there often was a hint of pink covering those now-sober white clapboards.  But that has nothing to do with the modern pink house, wildly inappropriate outside of sub-tropical areas, and even less with Romney's protestations at living in one.

Roger Sweeny said...

I know a number of women who won't wear pink. Not because they are ashamed of being women but because they associate pink with a certain kind of woman.

To them, pink is something Jon Benet Ramsey (and her mother) would wear. It is not something a Supreme Court justice or a CEO would wear.