By Ben Cohen: If you wanted to write a playbook on how to lose a Presidential election, you'd pretty much do exactly what Mitt Romney has done these past few months. The latest leaked video of Romney writing off half the American population as social parasites compounds what has shaped up to be one of the saddest attempts at running for President in modern history. And that's after John McCain picked an ex beauty pageant who thought Wladimir Putin wanted to launch an assault on America through Alaska to be his running mate.
Addressing a private party of wealthy donors earlier in the year, Romney said the following;
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
The entire blogosphere and their grandmothers are raining down on Romney for this unbelievably offensive nonsense, with many believing it to mark the end of his campaign. Writes Josh Barro at Bloomberg:
On the tape, Romney explains that his electoral strategy involves writing off nearly half the country as unmoveable Obama voters. As Romney explains, 47 percent of Americans "believe that they are victims." He laments: "I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."....This is an utter disaster for Romney.
Romney's attempt to clean up the mess was equally as disastrous - just take a look at this painful video of him fielding questions and trying desperately to rephrase his earlier words:
Writes Ta Nehisi Coates:
I have never seen the candidate of a major party looking more shook than Romney does at this press conference. I know that right-wingers claim this the fight they want. They claimed the same about Sarah Palin. They need more people. Which is tough when they've decided to run the Southern Strategy against half the country.
Here's the thing about the video; Romney's comments were not only factually incorrect (check out Bob Cesca's thorough debunking of Romney's statistics), but an insight into how he actually thinks about the general public. To Romney, people who don't earn millions are morally inferior leachers who rely on the wealthy producers to house and feed them. If you didn't believe that before, it's pretty hard to deny now given Romney has said it explicitly.
I've seen this type of attitude from extremely wealthy people in private before. Usually after a few drinks I've been able to extract the truth from ardent conservatives on their views about society, and it isn't pretty. Because once you get past the intellectual arguments that don't add up, all you have left is a belief that their success in life is purely down to their own merit, and others misfortune a product of their laziness. This belief is particularly prevalent amongst rich white people from rich white backgrounds - and I should know because I grew up with them.
Coming from a stable, white, upper middle class background with private schools, tutors, foreign holidays, a ready made set of professional connections has given me advantages I'll never fully comprehend. I get a glimpse of it sometimes from my close friends who didn't grow up like I did, but it doesn't really mean anything to me given I've never had to experience it. One of my best friends growing up once told me 'you can't begin to imagine what it's like seeing your mum cry because she hasn't got enough money to heat the house'. And he was right. I really can't, and the least I can do is acknowledge that my success (and I have by no means 'made it') is not solely a product of my own brilliance.
Mitt Romney grew up with incredible privilege, and he's used it to make himself even richer. I don't begrudge Mitt Romney his wealth - not everyone with money is necessarily a greedy narcissist - but I do begrudge him his attitude. The video shows Romney's complete lack of empathy for anyone different to himself, for those born without his skin color or privilege who have had to fight for everything they've earned rather than have it handed to them on a plate. Romney could go to his parents for money, or to his parents friends to start a business. He didn't have to take out loans to pay for his Ivy League education, or spend a lifetime paying them off. He was raised by rich people around rich people, and has spent his entire life hanging around with rich people who enjoy nothing more than patting themselves on the back for having made more money that everyone else.
The 47% of the nation who Romney wrote off provide the labor to make Romney and his buddies wealthy. Yes, some of them don't pay income tax, but that's because they don't earn enough to survive if they did. If the US had a functioning labor movement, the 47% would be earning enough to contribute, but people like Romney have spent a lifetime smashing unions to pieces so that they can't. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve and saint of free market gibberish, called these people 'flexible labor' - ie. people with no rights and no bargaining power. Romney relies on these people to do the jobs he's never had to do, and to disrespect them like that shows just how far removed he is from the lives of every day Americans.
Hopefully this really is the end of Romney's bumbling run at the Presidency. The blunders are mounting up and there's only so much more the public can take of this insufferable vulture capitalist telling them they're no good.