Kind of. For about 10 seconds.
It’s tough to be a politician nowadays what with the ever shrinking size of recording devices and of course, the Internet. Oftentimes in this hyper-connected, over-sharing, real-time-news-update-by-the-second, meme-obsessed world, WWW is the kingmaker. At the same time, it could also easily topple a career. (Ironically, the same world is causing its people to command shorter and shorter attention spans and therefore the ups and downs are becoming less and less definitive and permanent. Think Mel Gibson. Think Numa Numa Kid. Who? Exactly my point).
What the Internet giveth, the Internet taketh.
But I digress (which happens often here by the way).
I felt sorry for Mitt Romney in the first ten seconds after I read about (and later saw) the recordings taken by someone at a closed-door fundraiser of his. What happened to the sacred divide between public and private? What has the world come to if one cannot speak with candor at a private event? If one has to worry about tapes of one speaking one’s mind behind a closed door being leaked and then shared and reshared across the Interwebs faster than one could stick one’s foot in one’s mouth?
Here is one of the choicest quotes from Romney’s private speech to his wealthy donors back in May, in case you have not encountered it (i.e. your butcher’s wife’s brother-in-law has not sent it to you yet):
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…
My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Transcription of the above quotes from Mother Jones
In addition, the following is actually my favorite because Romney told a joke and his audience actually laughed! Who said that he had trouble connecting with his voters?
“My dad, as you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. He lived there for a number of years. I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”
Sounded like someone who was denied entrance to a university and blamed on all those people of color for taking his spot. We can debate the (de)merits of Affirmative Action until the cows come home, but, wait, News Flash! You are running for the President of the United States, and your strategy is to whine about it being “Not fair!”?
Not surprisingly, Romney’s got the facts wrong. I don’t really fault him for it, for about ten seconds, since he is not the only one getting confused. Thanks to Fact Checkers (courtesy of Washington Post), we know the following
“Some 44 percent of those who do not pay income taxes are because they benefit from tax benefits aimed at the elderly, while another 30 percent benefit from tax credits for children or for the working poor…
But not all of these people are automatically Obama supporters. In fact, according to a map published by the Tax Foundation, eight of the top ten states with the lowest income-tax liability are the heart of Romney country — the deep south. The only exceptions are Florida, a battleground state, and New Mexico, which leans toward Obama. Meanwhile, most of the states with the lowest level of nonpayers are Obama states.
As for other entitlements, of course Social Security and Medicare are reserved for the elderly — and are generally popular. But it seems simplistic to think these are all Obama voters, especially since polling indicates that the Republican share of the vote among white seniors have increased in each of the last five elections, to 58 percent in 2008.” [Emphasis mine]
Or, you could save yourself some time by looking at this easy-to-read chart from Tax Policy Center:
So there you have it.
Ever since the release of the tape on Mother Jones there has been a lot of outcry by the “liberal media” against Romney’s equating Obama voters with people who wait for government handouts (and vice versa). The Washington Post went a bit on the side of overdramatic and called this “Mitt Romney’s Darkest Hour“, and so did one of Bloomberg‘s bloggers who predicted “Today, Mitt Romney Lost the Election“.
All the brouhaha aside, IMO, this is not going to change anybody’s mind. On the contrary, any such talk will most likely deepen the resentment felt by many GOP supporters who are already deeply suspicious of the so-called liberal media. (Thanks to Faux News.) I don’t see white seniors changing their minds because of what Romney was caught saying. It’s the liberal media’s fault! It’s a conspiracy! as it always is. The “fact checkers” are probably in on it too! There is no winning an argument if people whose minds you are trying to change distrust “facts”. Besides, when Romney’s talking about people who sit around and wait for handouts, he was obviously not talking about THEM. It is not an outcome I’d like to see if Romney somehow comes out of this 47%gate a victim of “espionage” planned by the Obama campaign. I can already see them turning this whole thing around by pointing a finger at the oh-so-scary, conniving “liberal media” in cahoots with the Dems.
So why am I wasting your time with this mental dribble?
Here is a collection of Tweets today from my Twitter stream. Quickly! I’d better put this up before HuffPo publishes yet another Top 10 Most Hilarious Tweets on [some mistake made by some celeb's] masked as journalism.