The Washington Post has a very readable account of Mitt Romney's years at the elite Cranbrook School, an institution that may have sounded familiar to astute hip-hop nerds: Though the Post didn't mention it, Cranbrook is the same prep school Eminem mocked in the finale of "8 Mile."
Romney attended Cranbrook while his father was the governor of Michigan, the setting of "8 Mile." In the 2002 film's climactic freestyle battle, Eminem's character, B-Rabbit, faces the leader of a rival rap crew called Leaders of the Free World, Papa Doc, played by Anthony Mackie.
B-Rabbit has a black eye from the whole crew jumping him. He's lost his girl. And Papa Doc is the most feared freestyler in the land. But B-Rabbit has done his opposition research. He knows a shocking secret about Papa Doc that completely derails his street cred, and reveals it in front of a packed house. B-Rabbit raps — and, warning, there's offensive language:
Don't never try to judge me dude
You don't know what the fuck I've been through
But I know something about you
You went to Cranbrook, that's a private school
"Ohhhhhhhhhh!" says everyone in the crowd. B-Rabbit continues:
What's the matter dawg, you embarrassed?
This guy's a gangster; his real name's Clarence
And Clarence lives at home with both parents
And Clarence's parents have a real good marriage
This guy don't wanna battle, he's shook
'Cause ain't no such things as half-way crooks'
He's scared to death, he's scared to look at his fucking yearbook, fuck Cranbrook
There's an interesting class-superseding-race moment here, where the poverty and awful home life of Eminem's white character is supposed to make him a more legitimate hip-hop artist than the African-American Papa Doc, who comes from affluence and a stable family. It touches on many of the same difficult issues politicians do when they make their personal narrative one of their qualifications to lead.
But let's set that aside for a moment. The point of this story? Eminem would destroy Mitt Romney — a potential real-life Leader of the Free World — in a freestyle contest.
Watch the "8 Mile" Cranbrook moment (the big reveal comes at 1:57):