Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Jamelle Bouie and Jonathan Chait have compared Mitt Romney's "47 percent" remarks to Barack Obama's "cling to guns and religion" moment from 2008, and both have made a case for why Obama comes out looking much better. (Primarily it's because he seemed determined to be president of all the people, while Romney clearly has no such desire.)

I don't want to duplicate Bouie and Chait's efforts; I'd just like to point out that Obama in 2008 may have been reducing people to a cultural stereotype, but he was undaunted and persistent -- he didn't think it was pointless to try to work with people who seemed to be rejecting him.

Romney, by contrast, displays not just contempt but self-pity. Implicit in his remarks is that he can't get a break with these 47 percenters -- the deck is stacked, liberals have rigged the system by throwing money at the moochers, and the moochers themselves are incapable of gratitude despite the fact that what he and his fellow right-wingers want to do is what's good for them. Therefore, he has to work around the attitudes of the damn ingrates:

Obama '08 (emphasis added):
But the truth is, is that, our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's not evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Um, now these are in some communities, you know. I think what you'll find is, is that people of every background -- there are gonna be a mix of people, you can go in the toughest neighborhoods, you know working-class lunch-pail folks, you'll find Obama enthusiasts. And you can go into places where you think I'd be very strong and people will just be skeptical. The important thing is that you show up and you're doing what you're doing.
Romney '12:
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. And, I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 40 ... he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. He'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich -- I mean, that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives....
Whine, whine, whine -- a good, responsible Republican is screwed from the word go because the damn liberal SOBs have the rabble wrapped around their elitist fingers. It's just not fair!

What could be a more Nixonian message of self-pity?


White Hat said...

Romney is suggesting that Democrats buy votes. Republicans buy votes. A partial list:

• Reagan, Bush I and Bush II all ran up record high budget deficits.

• GW Bush in particular added the single largest entitlement in 40+ years - the Medicare pharmaceutical benefit – without budgeting a payment plan for it. Built into Bush’s program was a “no negotiation” clause on pharmaceutical prices. Drug firms love the GOP.

• Thanks to Republicans, the Defense Department has the largest budget in history. Despite “exiting” Iraq, today’s Pentagon budget is larger than it was in 2005. The War Industry loves the GOP.

• The largest single segment of “the 47%” are retired people. Of course they don’t pay taxes, they have little earned income but all the same tax deductions as Mitt. The second largest group is homeowners with a tax credit for mortgage payments. Homeowners with a crushing mortgage are hardly moochers.

• Thanks to GW’s “easy money” policies and the resulting housing price boom, mortgage payments are at a record high percentage of income – with the natural result that a larger than normal percentage of homeowners are entirely exempt from taxes. 20+ of US homes are still underwater. They get hefty tax breaks. Thank Bush. The financial community does.

• Businesses in the US have a comparatively high standard tax rate, but one of the lowest effective tax rates in the world via tax incentives, exemptions and other write-downs. On average, US businesses pay a lower effective tax rate than American citizens.

• Investors pay roughly half the tax rate of wage earners. That’s GOP supply side economics in action, a perfect example of buying “votes that matter.”

Victor said...

The difference is, I think, that Nixon actually cared about this country.

Mitt only cares about his families money, and his Country Club pal's money.
And if that money has to spend time in foreign places so that he can NOT pay his fair share, then so be it.

What I want to know is, since he's never shown us his tax returns, how do we know that Mitt's not part of 'the 47% that don't pay any taxes?'

Danp said...

I'm surprised Republicans and their media allies aren't comparing the Boca speech with Shirley Sherrod. It's out of context and Mitt is the victim of partisan selectivity. Of course that argument would be nonsense, but I suspect the only reason it's not being used is that it wasn't the media's finest hour.

Steve M. said...

Well, Mother Jones is publishing the entire video any minute now, so we'll see if there's anything mitigating. (Hard to believe there could be.)

: smintheus :: said...

Mitt went on to say that his job is to persuade enough 'responsible' independent voters (the ones he says make emotional judgments about candidates) to the point where he reaches 51%, or even 50.1% of the vote.

The slimmest possible majority of the electorate is all he wants; Romney admitted as much.

Greg said...

If it's true we're still in "Nixonland," then I guess it's no surprise that people like Milhous Rmoney, who is another manifestation of what RFK (in describing Nixon) called "the dark side of the American spirit," continue to rise to the top.

BH said...

It struck me early on that Mitty seemed to be the unholy offspring of Nixon & Thos. E. Dewey, so I'll repeat that observation just this one additional time. Still think it holds true.