It’s time to Break It Down!
The Republican nominee for Presidentis a very wealthy man. He is obviously adroit at counting, especially when it comes to money. His various bank accounts, whether domiciled in Massachusetts, the Caymans, Switzerland, or elsewhere, attest to that.
Recent developments leave some question as to just how rigorously Mr.Romney applies this erstwhile exceptionally refined skill set when counting people in general, voters more precisely, and people likely to vote for him in particular. Over the course of the campaign, questions and concerns have arisen regarding whether Candidate Romney has effectively managed to stay on message, maintain previously stated positions, and project a consistent message to different audiences.
These concerns have emerged and coalesced, in large measure, because the GOP has become a house-divided. This division played an integral role during the Republicanprimaries, and was instrumental in the popularity of various candidates rising and falling during the primary season.
Willardbrought a checkered past to the table. He was generally regarded as a Moderate Governor when he led the State of Massachusetts. At one time, he held pro positions onabortion, gay marriage, and of course he implemented health care reform legislation that became the progenitor for the law he now disdainfully refers to as Obamacare.
All this and more made him the anti-candidate for the newly transcendent, ultraconservative strain of the GOPknown as the Tea Party, as well as for several of his more conservative leaning primary rivals, including Michele Bachmann, the Rick Brothers (Perry &Santorum), Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain. Despite the head winds resulting from this opposition, Romney prevailed. In some cases his opponents self-destructed. Rick Perry, for example, could not avoid stepping on his own message. Meanwhile Herman Cain was done in by revelations of indiscretionsfrom his past.
Mr. Romney’sefforts also benefited from both his own personal fortune, and from the tail winds generated by Super Pac money, made possible by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling. In effect, he was able to spend his remaining rivals into oblivion. At different times, he aimed his financial Tsunamiat Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. They had no answer.
A couple of days ago, Mother Jones Magazinereleased a video showing Willard Romneymaking comments about Obamasupporters that he later described as off-the-cuffand inelegant. However, he neither rescinded them, nor offered an apology. Those comments were recorded, surreptitiously, in May at a $50,000 per plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida, and released on a day the Romney Campaign had widely circulated news that it was endeavoring to reset the candidate’s message. It appears the reset directive may have come a day too soon.
The gist of the Governor’s comments can be distilled into these essential points:
1. There are 47%of the people who will vote for the President, no matter what
2. There are 47%who are with him
a. Who are dependent upon government
b. Who believe that they are victims
c. Who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them
d. Who believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you-name-it
3. That that’s an entitlement…And the government should give it to them
4. The Presidentstarts off with 48, 49…he starts off with a huge number
5. These are people who pay no income tax
6. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax, so our message of low taxes doesn’t connect
7. He’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich; that’s’what they sell every four years
8. My job is not to worry about those people; I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives
9. What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents
a. That are thoughtful
b. That look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion
10.Whether they like the guy or not
There has been a lot of analysis about this unedited stream of consciousness straight from the candidate’s mind. Republicanstrategists, who generally are tasked with defending the nominee, have emphasized the truth-telling aspect of the message. Many have applauded his resolve and commitment to double-down. They giddily underscore the fact that 47% of Americans do not pay taxes. This, by the way, is not only true, but may even be a conservative estimate. One recent data source says that number has crept up to 51%.
However, if you don’t have the responsibility of carrying that water, you may be open to a few of the other implications of Governor Romney’s remarks. Namely, that the off-the-cuff and inelegantly framed comments appear to assert that all Obama supporters:
· Are dependent upon government
· Pay no taxes
· See themselves as victims
· Believe government is responsible for them
· Think they are entitled to healthcare, food, housing,you-name-it, and that government should give it to them
· Are not thoughtful
· Are incapable or unwilling to employ the power ofdiscernment in determining for whom they will vote
· Are not concerned about lower taxes (except for those of the rich)
· Do not take personal responsibility and/or care for their own lives
· Are not thoughtful voters
Is it conceivable that each of those ten points is an irrefutable and universal fact? That is likely inconceivable. However, just to be clear, if one believed that sentiment in its entirety, it would mean that person believed, among other things, that 95% of African American voters, 66% of Latino voters, and 56% ofcollege educated white women voters don’t pay taxes, see themselves as victims, do not take personal responsibility and/or care for their own lives, and are not thoughtful voters. Taken in part or as a whole, that is more than a stretch.
Moreover, one extrapolation of this narrative holds that retirees, veterans, recently laid-off workers on food stamps, many of whom support the Governor, are being written off. As you might imagine, the fallout from this recent revelation has spurred the Romney Campaign into damage control mode. Call it, a double reset, or Reset.2.
In an effort to get ahead of the story, Team Romney orchestrated a hastily called press conference after 10:00 p.m.Eastern Daylight Savings Time Monday night. In it, the Governor doubled-down on his comments, focusing on why non-taxpayers will not find his message appealing. Interestingly, he did not mention the millions of Obamasupporters who do pay taxes, who do take personal responsibility, and whodo not see themselves as victims.
So Tuesday, Mother Jones released the entire video. In a companion piece, David Corn, head of the Washington Bureau of Mother Jones noted:
“Romney was not the only one who has called for the release of the full 49-minute video. And we’re more than happy to oblige. The complete video demonstrates that Romney was not snippetized and that he was captured raw and uncut.”
When taking into account comments from around the political spectrum, Democrats have understandably been somewhat understated. Oh sure, some have made the obligatory comment here and there, but most have been comfortably ensconced on the sidelines while watching Republicansof all stripes labor to make sense of this latest Romney Camp PR dust-up.
The most “dug-in” GOP pols, aside from those who actually work for the campaign, appear to be the Tea Party types, Neocons, and the abashedly ultraconservatives. In statements such as those made by Romney, they actually see some evidence that the Governor really is capable of earning not just their vote, but their trust.
Contrast that with David Brooks, a conservative commentator who writes for the New York Times. He wrote a scathing op-ed entitled Thurston Howell Romney. Thurston Howell, III, in the event you don’t recall, was the mega-bucks character on the TV Show,Gilligan’s Island, who took tens of thousands of dollars and several changes of clothes on what was intended to be a 1-day cruise.
In the piece, Brooks makes several assertions, and poses a series of companion queries. First, he suggests that at the Florida fundraiser, Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, proceeds, himself, to “divide the nation into two groups: the makers and themoochers.”
Brooks argues that Romney really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits.
“Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraqwar veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retireeon Social Security or Medicare?”
He suggests the Governor does not know much about the culture of America.
“Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.”
He suggests Romney does not know much about the political culture.
“The number of people who think government spending promotes social mobility has fallen.
Brooks went on to add,
“Romneyhas lost track of the social compact. In 1987, during Reagan’s second term, 62% of Republicans believed that government has a responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves.According to a recent Pew study, only 40% of Republicans believe that today.”
Finally, Brooks notes:
“Romneyknows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency.”
In closing, Brooks said this:
“Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not —some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign. Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?”
While comparing Governor Romney’scomments to then Senator Obama’s 2008 comments about clinging to guns and God, (Here’s Barack Obama), Bill Kristol, a neocon political analyst, commentator, and editor of the Weekly Standard wrote in a column yesterday, “Romney’s comments arestupid and arrogant.”
For some, it had appeared the GOP was flagging in interest, and down on it’s Presidentialnominee. In seeking a reset, then being forced to chart Reset.2, the Campaign has found a burst of enthusiasm. It is unclear whether it can be used to propel the overarching political debate in directions Republicans desire.
In summary, the 2012 race to the Presidency is as close as it’s ever been, with no compelling signs that attendant dynamics have shifted fundamentally. Two important aspects of note to keep in mind are: 1) Yesterday’s Gallup Poll indicates, in the wake of the Libyan fallout, any Post Convention Bounce President Obama experienced last week has dissapated; 2) Perhaps even more important, courtesy of the Super Pacs, the Romney Camp maintains a humongous money advantage. This could be critical over the course of the final seven weeks of the campaign.
The combined observation/question of the moment can be stated simply…”Willard Romney Unplugged, Unrepentant; but is He Undone?” We’ll see.
I’m done; holla back!
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