Wednesday, February 01, 2012

(Update: or maybe not so brand-new.)

This is being called a gaffe, but when you get an accidental gaffe from Mitt Romney, believe me, you know it -- when he slips up and says something even he knows is embarrassing, he doesn't repeat it. In this case he did repeat it, carefully and deliberately. So maybe this is a terrible campaign miscalculation, but, in the usual sense of the term, it's not a gaffe:

After winning the Florida primary, GOP presidential nominee hopeful Mitt Romney explains to CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien that he is focused on a particular portion of the American population in his campaign.

Romney says, "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich.... I'm concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling." ...

Via Think Progress, here's the clip. I'll explain what I mean below.

Romney says:

By the way, I'm in this race 'cause I care about Americans. I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I'll fix it. I'm not concerned about the very rich. They're doing just fine. I'm concerned about the very heart of the America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling. I'll continue to take that message across the nation.

This is lite dog-whistling. Note that the very poor (and, yes, the very rich) are not, according to Romney, Americans. Romney is codedly implying that a certain Kenyan Muslim socialist Negro with ties to Goldman Sachs and George Soros is, in fact, excessively concerned with the needs of the people at the very top and the very bottom. Maybe it's not racial dog-whistling precisely, but it's Beck-like -- at the deepest level, it taps into the notion that rootless-cosmopolitan sophisticates like Obama (and Soros) wallow in government-linked high-finance riches and the decadence of the lower orders simultaneously. It's what you get when you take the overt ethnic stereotyping out of the early-twentieth-century notion of the International Jew foisting rampaging, jazz-inflamed Negroes on poor white Christians down on the farm.

Soledad O'Brien questions Romney's statement and he testily replies (addressing her as "Soledad" in the pointed way that Gingrich addressed "Juan"?):

Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad. I said I'm not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.

I think the challenge right now -- we will hear from the Democrat Party the plight of the poor. And there's no question it's not good being poor, and we have a safety net to help those that are very poor. But my campaign is focused is on middle-income Americans. My campaign -- you can choose where to focus. You can focus on the rich -- that's not my focus. You can focus on the very poor -- that's not my focus. My focus is on middle-income Americans -- retirees living on Social Security, people who can't find work, folks that have kids that are getting ready to go to college. These are the people who've been most badly hurt during the Obama years.

See? He keeps repeating it. It's a rehearsed line. It's a talking point he wants to take into the campaign. He wants to divide and conquer; he wants middle-class people who've had the rug pulled out from under them in this recession to feel that their interests are in opposition to the interests of "the very poor." He wants them to think that President Obama is excessively concerned with "the very poor" at their expense.

Will this work? I don't know. But it's no slip-up. It's no gaffe.

(And yes, he did say "Democrat Party." So when are we going to start calling it the "Republic Party" at every possible opportunity? I'm ready.)


UPDATE: Well, maybe it's not a brand-new talking point -- Bill Scher notes that Romney said the same thing in October:

In October, I reported here that Romney made this exact same argument while stumping in Iowa: "In our country, the people who need the help most are not the poor, who have a safety net, not the rich, who are doing just fine, but the middle class."

Video at the link. (Hat tip: Pam Spaulding.)


Ten Bears said...

I've been calling it the Republic Party, right here even, for a long time.

And Steve, it's " ... the International Jew foisting rampaging, jazz-inflamed, marijuana smoking Negroes on poor white Christians ... "

c u n d gulag said...

No, no gaffe that.
New whistle for the same fucking stupid and ignorant dogs.

And where have you been?

In some comments on your posts, I've been referring to them as Republic, RepubliKlan, and RepubliConfederate, Party.

And, "Publicans" may fit - except for that fact that they actually served useful purposes.
They were the rich Roman public contractors (and tax collectors - where the similarity ends).
But if you read about their corruption, avoidance of their own taxes - while taxing others, and willingness to take bribes and graft, the term sort of fits as another alternative to the ones I mentioned above:

Arturo Ui said...

"See? He keeps repeating it. It's a rehearsed line. It's a talking point he wants to take into the campaign. "

I couldn't agree more. Anyone who has listened to the Tea Party rhetoric of the last 2 years about "makers vs takers" knows that it is an article of faith among the GOP that our economy crashed because of poor people.

BH said...

Maybe we ought to just call it the Tea Party & be done with it. But for all I know, that might not have sufficient negative drag - dunno what the gen'l-population fave/unfave rating is on that term.

A Conservative Teacher said...

This post makes a good point- Romney must be creating this talking point based on several ideas: the latest reports from the government that show that under Obama (and Bush too) our nation has increasingly divided into rich and poor classes; Andrew Codevilla's popular article last year about political classes; and the latest book by Charles Murray on the 'two classes' in America.

I wonder how it will play out- whether it will be twisted out of context, or whether our nation will honestly look at whether we're dividing into serfs and masters as Hayek once suggested.

Once I wrote on this subject too- check it out at:

Steve M. said...

Once I wrote on this subject too

Conveniently leaving Bush's name out of your post, I notice.

Steve M. said...

Sorry, ACT, you lost me here:

President Obama increasingly uses the state to plan out society, acting in an increasingly autocratic way, imposing his will and the will of his small minority of elites on the people who is supposed to be serving. In his own words he states this as his goal- he says “I refuse to take ‘No’ for an answer” as he claimed new powers for himself in making recess appointments while Congress was not in recess....

How the hell is it "increasingly us[ing] the state to plan out society" to fill an office that existed prior to his inauguration? The state already concluded that the office should exist, and should be occupied by someone. He's "us[ing] the state" in the same way that every president since the creation of that position used the state -- by filling the freaking job opening.

The fact that a bunch of party-over-country anarchist/nihilists in the opposition party won't allow him to fill the opening through normal procedures leaves him no choice but to fill it through an alternate but time-tested procedure.

Steve M. said...

Oh, and I also see that you heartily endorse Mitt Romney's assertion corporations are people. Pretty much all I needed to know about you.

merlallen said...

I call it the repub party, myself

Kevin Hayden said...

Romney knows that demographically, the poor don't vote enough to sway many elections. He just doesn't know that if you are so dismissive out loud, it makes one sound callous, pompous, elitist, stupid, really fucked up, unethical, unprincipled, ignorant, uncaring, too rich, and exactly like a typical Republican.

So I don't see what the fuss is about. Romney likes being all those things. It's a feature, not a bug.

Shipping / Receiving said...

I'm personally partial to "the Re-poo-blican Party"

Green Eagle said...

How about just calling them "The Traitors."

Phoenix Justice said...

Its a meme that I am sure has been tested to the hilt by Frank Luntz and its a winner for the Romney campaign. Claim that there is a robust safety net for the poor while not mentioning conservative/Republican efforts to destroy that safety net. Claim that you are for the middle class publicly while in reality you want them to be poor.

Yes, back in October Mr. Romney did say the same thing, but who was listening to him back then? The media ignored him and now that they can't, it comes to the forefront.

Tinakori Road said...

I have been calling them the Repugnants for a long time.

Redeye said...

Mitt doesn't care about poor folks. Remember that ain't right?

Justin said...

I've heard that snippet a couple of times, and I swear he also messes up when he says "Democrat Party". Like, he's going to say "Democratic", and right before the whole word comes out, he catches himself and says "Democrat". It's like his brain is saying, "Wait, I have to say 'democrat' because that's what Frank Luntz wants me to say."

The guy is just so phony...

Unknown said...

This is my impression exactly, and I actually think this is a good parry to Obama's SOTU. Obama says the rich should pay their fair share, and Romney says: he's not doing this for you, he's doing this to benefit those on welfare. Classic Reagan playbook, and one of the only moves available to him.

Cirze said...

I liked "Republics" years ago, but as it never caught on (having no Rovers on this side), I abandoned it in favor of "Rethugs" as they've been out-and-out thugs since Reagan.

And, of course, it's not a gaffe as it's a feature (not a bug) to drive home the point that the "struggling middle class" has not been served like both the rich and poor have been by the dreaded libruls heretofore in charge!


Anonymous said...

My preferred term is Rethuglican.