Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The 47 Percent Solution

"Start rearranging the deck chairs, damnit!:
Republican rats are deserting the sinking ship called the Romney campaign or as Peggy Noonan labeled it, the Rolling Calamity. Following the infamous "47 percent" tape, the premature press release on the Libyan tragedy, and now the call for limited political contributions made by teachers (see cause they're not people like corporations are), Mittens couldn't get elected dog catcher in a one-dog town. Well, that's an exaggeration. But what is happening is a cold, calculated move on the part of Republicans to blame the individual candidate for their failure to retake the White House. They're ignoring the possibility that it's the current sharp right turn the brand has taken that is turning independent voters off.

When the Tea Party surged to power in 2010, the GOP thought "Hey this is the way to go. This is what the people want." So states with Republican legislatures overreached on abortion, gay, and immigration stuff. Forced ultrasounds, personhood amendments, slashing voting rights and cutting public assistance were the order of the day. What they forgot is Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes were at least somewhat moderate, talked a good game of inclusiveness, and downplayed the social issues.If you go too far to the right, you lose the middle which is what is happening right now.

Up until the time of the tape being released by Mother Jones, the middle was still unsure about Mittens. They were actually listening to his argument, "I'm not Barack Obama, I got people jobs at Staples, that's all you need to know. Don't worry about these pesky social issues." It didn't bother them too much that he was stiff and about as sincere as a bad community theater actor. (Those blank eyes, that phony used-car salesman smile.) But then the video showed us the real Mittens. In the tape he sounds like he really believes what he's saying. Listen to the way he says "entitlement" with dripping, intense contempt.

Of course the most damning sentence was the one about the 47 percent who don't pay federal income taxes and I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on part of it. When he said  "I can't worry about those people," he could have meant "I can't worry about getting those people to vote for me." But then when he said "I can't get them to take responsibility for their lives," he was very clearly making a value judgment on almost half of the population. That's what killed him and probably cost him the election. And he has not expressed regret or explained what he meant in an adequate fashion.

In his hastily called late night press conference, you could see the rubber mask back in place and his only explanation was that his statements were "inelegant." He never said "Of course I don't think every single one of those people--retirees, military people, working class people--are moochers. That was a misstatement." In the days since, he's tried to gloss over it by saying he's for the 100 percent, but that 47 number will haunt him.

To be fair, Obama did have his "guns and religion" moment in a similar, unguarded setting in 2008. But Obama went on to say in spite of these people's clinging to their fears, you have to reach out to them. After insulting the 47 percenters and lumping them all together, Mittens was prepared to write off half the country. Given his record and statements, you know that is how he would govern.

Not everyone is a business owner or an entrepreneur and people who work at unskilled jobs and have no ambition to become millionaires deserve a president who will treat them with the same importance as they would the Koch Brothers and that Las Vegas casino owner who went over to Mitt when Newt lost.

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