The last eight weeks haven’t been kind to Willard Mitt Romney. His inaugural overseas trip in late July and early August, designed to make him look presidential on the world stage, was roundly considered a disaster.
His innate ability to look down and insult people was on full display, dissing Palestinian culture while visiting Israel. And in Britain, he scored a hat trick, criticizing his hosts’ Olympic preparations, forgetting the name of the leader of the Labour Party after being introduced to him, and letting slip that he had had been briefed by MI6, all of which earned him headlines like “Mitt the Twit.”
Then came the RNC Convention, billed as Mitt Romney’s coming out party where The Real Mitt would be introduced to the country. Why that should be necessary after running for president for the last seven years only underscores his total fail at connecting with ordinary people. That was to be remedied by a warm and fuzzy keynote speech by his wife and a puff piece bio-vid, both originally scheduled for prime time network broadcast coverage.
Hurricane Issac changed all that. Ann Romney was moved to Tuesday night, but not to the prime time spot. That was given to New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who showed what a bloated egotistical fukwad he is. During what was really a commercial for his 2016 presidential run, he finally got around to mentioning Romney’s name 16 minutes after he waddled up to the mic. (Ann was seething. I’m sure a cut-away shot would have shown smoke billowing out her ears.) And the bio-vid was moved out of prime time to make room for Clint Eastwood’s empty chair.
The climax was Willard’s acceptance speech, written by himself and his chief strategist, Stuart Stevens, the man behind the hilarious Demon Sheep ad run against Meg Whitman during her California gubernatorial campaign. After rejecting two speeches by professional speech writers, the Dynamic Duo forgot to mention Afghanistan or even the troops, much to dismay of the Republican establishment.
Then came the murder on 9/11 of the US ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other embassy personnel, including two Navy Seals. Romney, before the facts were in, labeled President Obama‘s handling of the situation “disgraceful” and accused him of sympathizing with the terrorists who carried out the attacks, while the attacks were still going on:
“The Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Naturally, his comments were condemned by individuals across the politcal spectrum. President Obama weighed in on 60 Minutes, accusing Romney of having “a tendency to shoot first and aim later.” Two polls, a Monmouth Universit survey released Monday, and a poll by Reters/Ipsos released Tuesday show a high level of awareness among the populace of the violence directed at our embassies in Egypt and Libya; and Romney upside down in his approval/disapproval numbers for his self-serving, unpresidential response.
Which brings us to the latest flaming bag of dog shit that Romney is having trouble stomping out: the release of a covert video tape taken in May during a fund raising event at a billionaire hedge fund’s mansion in Florida in which he reveals what he really thinks of the Great Unwashed. (A complete transcript can be found here). Think Progress describes the poo on his shoes:
The Romney campaign is in damage control mode today, trying to explain Romney telling wealthy donors in a private meeting that “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.” “These are people who pay no income tax,” Romney continued, in a video posted by Mother Jones. “My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
But who are the 47 percent of Americans who currently have no federal income tax liability? Mostly, they are either too poor to qualify for even the lowest tax bracket (but still pay federal payroll tax, and state or local sales taxes, gas taxes, and excise taxes), or they benefit from tax credits for the working poor, the elderly, or students, as these charts from the Tax Policy Center show. Only 7 percent of the country is non-elderly and has no federal tax liability, and most of them make less than $20,000.
Also, too, active duty military personnel; disabled vets; and 7,000 millionaires who paid no individual income tax.
Jon Stewart provides his take on the Millionaire Gaffemaker and his attempted reboot
Not surprising, Romney is getting a lot of heat from even moderate pundits like NY Magazine’s Jonathan Chait, who describes the Romney revealed in the videotape as a “Sneering Plutocrat.” But it is the fire he is taking from conservatives that is of particular interest, the acrid smell of desperation rising in the air:
Bobo: “Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers…It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. …The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. …Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact…. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.
Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign.
Bill Kristol: “It’s worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes are Romney supporters—especially of course seniors … as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they’re not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him … Romney’s comments, like those of Obama four years ago, are stupid and arrogant.
Indeed: Has there been a presidential race in modern times featuring two candidates who have done so little over their lifetimes for our country, and who have so little substance to say about the future of our country?
Peggy Noonan: What should Mitt Romney do now? He should peer deep into the abyss. He should look straight into the heart of darkness where lies a Republican defeat in a year the Republican presidential candidate almost couldn’t lose … It’s time to admit the Romney campaign is an incompetent one. … An intervention is in order…
Joe Scarborough: “This is one of the worst weeks for any presidential candidate in a general election that any of us can remember… Unemployment is still 8% plus, the economy is still in tatters, and Mitt Romney is blowing this race.”
And that only concerns the manner in which Mr. Managerial Genius is running his campaign. The more serious, long term issues concern the policy implications of his remarks:
While conservative activists are circling their wagons around Mitt Romney and encouraging to stand by his claim that the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes are essentially mooching off the government, prominent policy voices on the right are dismayed by his comments — both because they’re inaccurate, and because they cut against fundamental conservative causes.
Romney argued that the 47 percent — of which three-fifths pay payroll taxes and one-fifth are seniors — represent President Obama’s core base. “The story is complicated, and it doesn’t line up well with the dependency story Romney seemed to have in mind,” wrote Reiham Salam at National Review. “As an explanation for electoral trends, though, this theory doesn’t hold up,” wrote Ramesh Ponnuru at Bloomberg View, pointing out that many low-income Americans vote Republican.
Many conservatives support programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit — which contributes to the phenomenon Romney derided — because it advances the goal of replacing welfare programs with work incentive programs. Anti-tax activists separately note that Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have worked to grow the ranks of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes.
Politico has more:
For Matt Welch of the libertarian magazine Reason, the problem is that Romney’s message contradicts the pitch Republicans made to voters at the GOP convention.
“This is economic determinism at its worst, going against the very message the Republican Party was trying to sell to the world during its quadrennial national convention last month,” he wrote. “Over and over again, we heard speakers there talk about how their immigrant grandparents came to this country, worked hard, built ‘that,’ never asked for a handout, and as a result their descendants have enjoyed the American Dream of ever-upward mobility. What the 53/47 dividing line says, to the direct contrary, is that income status is a permanent political condition, defrocking all Americans of agency and independent thought…. There are to my mind many more important things to consider in this presidential race than Mitt Romney’s reductive parroting of plausible-but-wrong GOP tropes. But the reason this controversy will have legs is ultimately because many Republicans think Romney’s comments were just fine. They are about to learn what the rest of the country thinks about that.”
In sum, we now have a better idea of Willard’s world view. Seniors, students, military service personnel, and the working poor are really a permanent underclass comprising some 47% of the populace whose votes he’ll never get, so fuck them.
As for the uber rich job destroyers creators like himself, they are entitled to paying virtually no income taxes at all. Under the Ryan tax plan, for instance, Willard will pay less than 1%. The trillion dollars in proposed tax cuts, including a reduction in the corporate rate, will be offset by closing a plethora of loopholes that, alas, must remain undefined lest they incite the peasant class to revolt. Meanwhile, the military industrial complex will continue to enjoy rising budgets ad infinitum. And the budget shall be balanced by setting fire to the social safety net and gutting every government program and tax incentive designed to help those on the bottom of the economic pyramid achieve a higher standard of living.
So, can Ann start measuring the drapes in the White House yet? After all, as she told Dianne Sawyer: “It’s our turn now.”
Part Two of The Millionaire Gaffe-maker: “We’re all going to die!”