n case you missed it, Mitt Romney put his foot in his mouth again, this time disparaging people who don’t pay income taxes. Mother Jones posted videos of him grousing at a private campaign event, saying that he doesn’t care about those voters because they vote for Obama.
The videos are Romney’s latest installment of outrageous gaffes, raising more premature speculation that his chances of victory are dead. Bloomberg.com writer Josh Barro says it is the final nail in his election’s coffin. I highly doubt it. The more likely scenario is that the candid audiotape will help him connect more with his base, who totally agrees with him, and pull in some angry anti-Obama independents.
That’s why Romney showed no remorse after the videos surfaced and the backlash began. Instead, during a press conference late yesterday evening, he defended himself, saying his remarks were “inelegant,” but true.
What Romney said was completely tone deaf and divisive, heartless even, and ironic.
As conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks, said:
It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. 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.
The irony is that while some of America’s non-income taxpayers probably did vote for Obama, a lot of them probably vote Republican too. That’s because 8 of the 10 states with the highest numbers of non-payers are red states, according to TheAtlantic.com. The other reason is that some non-income tax payers are mega-rich. As the Daily Beast points out:
Romney doesn’t connect well with people or speak well in public, but he’s smart enough to know that his candor would appeal to his base. And all he was doing in that room was bluntly articulating their shared political worldview. In case you haven’t noticed, those Republicans win a lot of elections — including the presidency.
When Republicans who pay no federal income taxes hear Romney, they’ll like him even more. If they’re rich, they’ll embrace him because he’s promising to make it even easier for them to avoid taxes. If they’re poor and receiving welfare payments — they’ve convinced themselves that they’re the deserving poor. They agree with Romney: It’s those other poor people — those who plan to vote for Obama — who should get off welfare and start paying taxes.
Romney’s remarks say a lot about him, but they also say a lot about us. Like it or not, the capacity of the electorate to be selfish and to blame others for our problems is endless.