It seems to me that Mitt Romney is the failed presidential candidate who will never go away. Really: he’s not in office, why is there still so much news about him? I really don’t know. Just the same, I still find him fascinating because he is sort of the perfect Republican. And in a recent interview story by Mark Leibovich, Romney came up with a new excuse for his “47 percent” comment. It’s interesting that the comment was about how the poor wouldn’t take responsibility for themselves. But every couple of months, Romney comes up with a new reason why he isn’t responsible for what he said.
Romney said that he had just be asked a long and rambling question. He continued, “My mistake was that I was speaking in a way that reflected back to the man. If I had been able to see the camera, I would have remembered that I was talking to the whole world, not just the man.” Okay. So his mistake was not knowing that there was a hidden camera? If he knew he was being recorded, he would have be more truthful? The mind boggles.
Brian Beutler hit back on this at New Republic today, Mitt Romney Blames His “47 Percent” Comment on a Donor. Paul Ryan Blames… Mitt Romney. That title refers to the fact that Paul Ryan now says the comment was wrong, but he still (along with the whole of the Republican Party) sees the world that way. That’s the fundamental problem. The video wasn’t a big deal because everyone was surprised that Romney would say such a thing. The video was a big deal because no one was surprised. They already knew this was exactly what Romney thought and the video was just a handy example of it.
Beutler noted that the question Romney got was neither long nor rambling. The guy just asks how Romney can convince people that they have to take care of themselves. And after losing the election, Romney claimed that it was because Obama was giving poor people free stuff. This clearly shows that Romney really did think that half the nation were a bunch of moochers. What I’ve always found funny but also shockingly offensive is that Romney pandered far more than Obama.
One of the biggest attacks Romney made against Obama was that he took $716 billion away from Medicare. And what was Romney going to do? Give it back! And what was the biggest thing in Romney’s budget? His $5 trillion in tax cuts going mostly to the very wealthy. But in Republican-think, giving money to your constituencies is not giving them “free stuff.” Giving “free stuff” only applies when it is given to “those” people. Romney’s tax cuts were worth more than total Medicaid spending. But those poor parents who got free checkups for their kids were being bought off. Billionaires were not.
The final word about the “47 Percent” comment comes from Romney, himself. I’m sure over time, he will change his explanation as it becomes clear to him that he said far more than he meant to in this interview. Romney really thinks that there are a whole bunch of loafers out there in America. And he thinks that the only distinctly progressive tax in the United States is the one that defines such people. Note that he didn’t talk about sales taxes or state income taxes or payroll taxes — all of which the poor pay in abundance. No, he picked the one tax that is reasonably fair in the United States. And so the video shows what he actually thinks about his fellow Americans. We all understand that he wouldn’t have been so blunt if he had known non-millionaires were watching. We don’t like Romney, but we don’t think he’s an idiot.
The issue in the United States is not people who don’t take responsibility for their lives. The issue is people like Romney who want to take responsibility for things they didn’t do. He won’t admit the fact that his success is mostly luck. He was born reasonably intelligent. He was born into a rich family. He was sent to good schools. He knew lots of people who could help him out in life. Even at Bain & Company, Romney didn’t see the opportunity with Bain Capital. He only started it because his boss gave him the deal of a lifetime to start it: not only would he get his old job back if he failed, the company would cover for him so it didn’t reflect badly on him. Romney is the one with the responsibility issue. And now he’s trying to push responsibility for his “47 percent” comment onto some anonymous donor, who regardless totally agrees with Romney about what they see as the moocher class.