It's not merely the fact that Mitt Romney dissed 47 percent of voters as Obama backers as dependent on the federal government
. Or joked about how his chances would be better if he were Latino
Mitt Romney's latest ingestion of his foot is also very different from Barack Obama's caught on tape moment lamenting about "bitter" Americans who "cling to their guns and their religion
The tape of a May fund-raiser, unearthed by Mother Jones,
simply reinforces a belief many already have of Romney as an aloof 1 percenter who won't come clean about his taxes or just about anything else.
That perception is not yet widespread enough to disqualify him, even in the eyes of the Obama-hating GOP that nominated him for the presidency last month. Or for the frustrated independents who hope for a miraculous turnaround.
The real damage of the tape is the reinforcement of Romney the Bumbler that has been on display since the convention. The guy who let a Hollywood star and an empty chair upstage his most important speech; the guy who made intemperate and ill-timed remarks before all the facts were in on Libya. A guy whose campaign is already openly pointing fingers
Those in turn go with the man on the road to trip from hell: where he irked the British, the British for crying out loud!, by speculating, incorrectly as it turns out, about Olympic security before turning on Palestinian wrath while simultaneously injecting his old pal Bibi Netanyahu in the presidential race.
Romney has spent the last month, pre-and post-convention alternately stubbing his toes then putting them in his mouth. For a man whose message was designed to be "it's the economy, stupid," we are getting only "stupid."
And at the time when most voters start to zero in and make decisions on who they support.
With that context, let's go to the tape, which will play a role in hardening those opinions.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” he said
in the video, over sounds of waiters pouring drinks and clearing
plates. “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.”
Aside from questioning where he got 47 percent, Romney labeled virtually half the American public as dependent and "victims" who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them. That 47 percent includes seniors receiving Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid assistance for nursing homes.
And last we looked, a lot of people who paid no income tax we those same seniors, not to mention people making less than $20,000, people with children who they felt were "entitled" to food.
Oh, and rich Americans like Romney who pay capital gains on their investment income at rates well below what average Americans get socked with.
In other words, the video shows the real Romney, in a comfortable moment among his fellow 1 percenters. That's even reinforced by the damage control statement from Romney declaring:
"I’m speaking off the cuff in response to a question,” he said. “And I’m
sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I
did in a setting like that. . . . Of course I want to help all Americans
— all Americans — have a bright and prosperous future.”
"Off the cuff" in a comfortable environment where he could let his guard down. And commit the worst campaign gaffe: speaking the truth.
Obama suffered a similar fate in a San Francisco fund-raiser when he mused about the motives pushing Pennsylvania Democrats to the polls. It was, as Jamelle Bouie declared, "inartful and condescending."
But while Obama lost the presidential primary to Hillary Clinton, his gaffe came while he had enough time to change the subject. Romney is running out of time.
Each day that goes by with the Republican candidate talking about something other than the economy -- even when he offers no specifics on how he will accomplish his mathematically impossible solution of lower taxes for the dinner guests, fewer programs to support those "entitled" 47 percenters -- is a lost day for him to close the deal with a public that slowly appears to be gravitating back to Obama.
Labels: 2012, Mitt Romney, taxes