One of the cardinal rules in politics (or government, business, etc.) is to minimize the “legs” a bad story will have. Yesterday morning, we awoke to the news from Politico.com that the Romney campaign was imploding. This was clearly going to be a story that had all kinds of attention, both from the Main Stream Media and the blogosphere. The sources were numerous folks with connections to the Romney campaign who all seemed to have the same goal: skewer Stuart Stevens. That a campaign that has relentlessly tried to stay on a message of the economy would, instead, willingly take up valuable time and attention to settle scores with a guy they do not like, was not something I viewed as a positive for Romney’s chances of winning.
It may have been coincidental, but the same day the Romney campaign announced it would start to provide “specifics” on the candidate’s message. Although eagerly passed along by the MSM (why is Sarah Palin’s “Lame Stream Media” seeming to be more accurate?), this is, of course, nonsense. Romney’s idea of specificity is saying he would cut taxes and regulations, instead of relying on the bromide that he knows best for improving the economy. Into that breach rides Mother Jones with Romney’s statements from a fundraiser in which he did provide specifics.
According to the Republican nominee, almost half of our country (specifically 47%) is composed of layabouts and “victims” who feel entitled to all forms of government handouts - such as food, health care and housing - and would be supporting Barack Obama. He cited the statistic that 47% of the populace does not pay federal income taxes. Romney did not say, that almost two-thirds of that 47% actually work (since they do pay the payroll tax) and that another 22% are elderly. As Romney put it, “”[M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” (All of the specific numbers are from the Tax Policy Center from Andrew Sullivan’s blog.)
That takes care of domestic issues. What did the nominee have to say about the Middle East, specifically, the Palestinian-Israeli stalemate? According to the Mother Jones video, his view is that “the Palestinians [are] not wanting to see peace anyway,” and that his approach would be to “kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” This is the hands-on manager who is campaigning for the Presidency on his ability to solve problems? If that comment were not troubling enough, he did identify a former Secretary of State who thought there was a possibility for settlement - but Romney did not ask for an explanation of how that could be done.
I do not know where I fit in the Mitt Romney world view. I have a mortgage, and deduct those interest costs on my tax return. I’m guessing he is not including tax benefits in his notion of “takers vs. makers” since he is doing quite well under the tax code (even though he wants to cut his taxes even more). Given his desire to balance the federal budget deficit, he must understand that if he pays less in taxes, others will be making up the revenue shortfall.
I first heard of the “47%” and “victims” comment from a family member who is both a small businessman and an Obama supporter who stated, “What does that make us?” He will not be the only person asking that question over the upcoming weeks.