Poor Mitt Romney. His tin ear gives him a chronic decorum problem. Listen to him speaking at Jackson, Mississippi.>
I got started right this morning with a biscuit and some cheesy grits.
It’s not “cheesy grits.” It’s cheese grits. Romney tries hard to fit in wherever he goes, to prove he’s a man of the people. But if you want to prove you’re part of a tribe, you have to know the tribal language. That’s a key element of decorum, Latin for “fitness.”
Fitness. Darwin used the term to refer to a species’ ability to fit into its particular environment. Rhetorical fitness—decorum—has to do with a person’s ability to fit into a particular tribal environment. And, listen up, all y’all: It don’t get more tribal than southern Republican.
Figaro often gets emails from word snobs who mistake grammar for morals, and who see a split infinitive as a crack in civilization. But grammar, like cheese grits, is merely an element of decorum, the art of fitting in.
And Romney, for all his many abilities, just isn’t the fitting-in type. Then again, neither is Obama. Figaro cringes every time the Harvard Law grad refers to Americans as “folks.” Trust the Fig: This election will be more grammatical than folksy.