I have previously criticized dividing Americans between a supposed 99% and the other 1%. Now we have Romney’s other 47%.
Had he merely said SOME Americans pay no income tax and consider themselves victims, entitled to government taking care of their needs, with no personal responsibility, it would have arguably been a reasonable point; though actually few people fit that stereotype. But 47%?
True, around 47% don’t pay income tax (though they pay a lot of other taxes). But clearly it’s absurd to conflate that group with the much smaller moocher group.
I really hate the political catch-phrase “out of touch.” And the gotcha politics of “remarks.” But this Romney remark is out of touch.
Let’s be clear. Insofar as Romney was saying we have a problem with entitlement spending, he’s right. But it isn’t spending on the neediest. This very rich country can easily afford taking care of the disadvantaged. What we cannot afford is the welfare for the affluent.
So the problem isn’t with the 47% at all; it’s with the 53%!
But this is what you get with a political party already off the rails, beholden to religious fundamentalism (denying obvious realities like climate change and even evolution) and perverting a reasonable policy of minimizing taxes into a mindless intransigence — against any compromise despite half the country opposing them. As recently as four years ago, the party was still capable of nominating a sensible presidential candidate. But no longer.
Mitt Romney might actually have been such a candidate. But he seems to be suffering PTSD after running the gauntlet of the primaries, with the party’s reigning Torquemada wing literally beating his brains out.
The head of our local NPR station, Alan Chartock, in his usual conspiratorial-mindedness, thinks Romney’s 47% statement was actually a calculated ploy for a certain voting block. If only! Were Romney really that cunning, that would be ample reason to elect him. But the truth is that he spoke not with deep thought, but without thinking.
I had already given up on this election as lost, due to lack of a clear economic message. It’s not enough just to say Obama has failed; Romney has to explain why and how, and what needs to change. It’s not enough just to claim greater economic competence – especially while coming across as a bumbler. That might have been weathered had Romney actually articulated the bold and cogent economic message that so desperately needs to be heard. But now it’s probably too late.
It’s tragic that the Republicans, trapped in their alternate universe, have failed to mount an incisive campaign against what is really a disastrous path the country is on. So now we’ll be condemned to four wasted years of Obama incapable of tackling our growing debt crisis (if he even wanted to, which he doesn’t). At least a Romney presidency might have been, if nothing else, a fresh start. (Especially with a Republican Congress, vesting full accountability in one party.)
Remember Ross Perot in 1992? He was a weird candidate with a shambolic third party campaign. Yet despite these handicaps, his message about the country’s unsustainable economic path really resonated, and he got a hefty 19% of the vote. Two decades later, the problem Perot was talking about is hugely worse. Just imagine if the Republicans had put aside their fetishes and fielded a grown-up candidate, treating voters as grown-ups, with a gutsy realist plan to save our economy from debt disaster, a plan that requires everyone to sacrifice something, because we just plain have to.
UPDATE October 5: Romney says his 47% statement was “just completely wrong.”