Ronald Reagan came to politics late, and maybe he was no Errol Flynn, but we've all heard of the fun and games in Hollywood. Bedtime was not necessarily always with Bonzo. The most memorable stories about Warren Harding, a handsome, upright Baptist who in certain respects resembles Romney, were told by his Secret Service bodyguards about their struggles to keep his wife apart from his mistress. This year, we've seen Newt Gingrich, not so much a lady-killer, but a bounder who leaves the ladies wounded and bloody, survive the stories of his three wives. (Newt finally foundered on too much Newt, not too much abusive wifery.)
Poor Mitt. It's true that women are attracted, like a moth to the flame, to men with a leer as well as a wink. The man whose appeal suggests a little danger can be irresistible. A girl who wants no potholes in a romance often relishes the thrill of sharing a pitfall with a rowdy stranger. When she grows up, she's likely to be a mama who won't let her boys grow up to be cowboys, but Jonathan Tobin's political point, as illustrated by the parade of presidential rascals and bounders, is well taken. The sawdust trail can be a path not only to salvation but to the White House, too.
Mitt grew up cosseted in comfortable affluence in Detroit, transiting through neither pothole nor pitfall from idyllic childhood to walking in his father's footsteps to success in business and politics. If he ever rebelled against the tight embrace of his strict Mormon upbringing, there is no public record of it. He never even banged up the family car after a bout of too much brew with his buds. He reached maturity with no sawdust between his toes because there were no public sins to repent and atone.
He seems to understand why this is not necessarily a plus, and sometimes he kids himself about it. He's fond of telling how he once asked his wife Ann whether "in your wildest dreams you ever imagined us in a race for the White House." She replied, "No, Mitt, you're not in my wildest dreams."
It's a good thing he's comfortable aiming jokes at himself. He's missing a lot to live down.