Because the magazine Mother Jones (admittedly a liberal paper but in this case it's worth a read) published a story and a series of clips from a private Romney fundraiser from earlier this year that at time depicts Romney as being a bit, let's say uncaring about President Obama's presumed supporters. (1)
There are five clips posted with this story, which I will post here.
Romney on Obama's Presumed Supporters
Romney on Treating Obama Gingerly
Romney on his Consultants
Romney on What Wins an Election
Romney on the Economy
Now, already there is much talk that these videos could be something of a death-nail to the Romney campaign, especially after one takes into account their rather problematic foray into foreign policy last week (which in part failed because of his adviser's idiotic statement and the media's obsessing with it). To be honest, when I first read some to the snippets from this story I honestly thought to myself, "good grief, he's gone and done it now". However, as is the case with such snippets, the real story is a bit different than the headline.
The 1st video deals with what Romney thinks about President Obama's presumed supporters. Romney's main point is this: He is claiming that the 47% of Americans (2) who reportedly pay no income tax (per a 2009 report by the Tax Policy Center) are all supporters of the President and these same folk think of themselves as victims and therefore entitled to government support. As such Romney states that, "[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
First off, it's a little bold to claim that all Americans who don't pay income tax (regardless of what the percentage is nowadays), support the President. First off, according PolitiFact's report from April 2011 (2), these folks who didn't pay taxes include many in the middle class and lower class. While these two groups MAY favor the President more, it's highly unlikely they ALL support the President. If that was the case, the President would likely have a greater lead than he does since some upper-class Americans actually do like him and that would likely be enough to put him over the top. So clearly this part of his statement is rubbish.
Now the part of his statement that all these same folks feel they are "victims" is likewise statistically unlikely to be true. However, at the heart of his claim there is some truth. I personally believe (and know from personal experience) that there really are people out there in America that do feel the government owes them quite a bit for simply being born. You would like to believe it's not true but most Americans can probably think of at least one person they've met that thinks this way. Regardless, it's preposterous that supposedly..ALL of the 47% of Americans that reportedly pay not income tax feel this way. The fact they pay no income tax has as much to do with how much they make a year, what tax breaks they qualified for (which are created by the government), and their family situation. For example, I am proud to admit that for my first years in the work force, at the end of the year I paid little federal income tax. You know why this was the case? Well for one, even though I worked 35-40 hours a week, I only made about $15,000 a year. I also was single and had no dependents. Largely because of my rather low wage and because of federal tax breaks (such as the Stimulus), I paid very little federal income tax when the numbers were finally crunched. Did I ever think of myself as a victim? Hell no, and for that mater I managed to live on my own with no government support. The reason I paid so little federal taxes is simply because of the tax system we have in America. If anyone in the government wants to point a finger at who's responsible for those folks paying little or not federal income tax, they need not look any farther than their own mirrors. Do some folks out there abuse the tax code for their own selfish gains? Of course, but not to the extent Romney would have you believe (big shock right).
Finally with this video, the sad thing is his final statement that he doesn't need to worry about "these people". Now let's for a moment assume that Romney's claims are true. It's rather sad and callous sounding that Romney thinks such people are beyond help and therefore nothing should be done to try and aid them let alone win their vote. Now it's one thing to say that trying to get your opponents supporters to switch sides is difficult, to simply write off a rather large chunk of Americans simply because you think they are lazy is a bit disgusting IMHO. Ever heard of, "helping people help themselves", Mitt?
On to the 2nd video then. Strangely, this video shows that there is some smart thinking going on it Romney's campaign as this video discusses why Romney's campaign hasn't attacked President Obama with the usual kind of fire-breathing demonizing that many on the right have called for. More or less, Romney makes the case that he is fighting for the independents in America and that most of these folks voted for Obama in 2008 and demonizing him will only turn them off since they often like him personally. This is why the Romney campaign is instead portraying President Obama as a "disappointment" instead of a "failure". IMHO, that is the smarter strategy and he should stick to it to try and win over independents.
I'll keep my comments on the 3rd video to a minimum for one big reason: it's about his supposed "wise" choices in hiring consultants. Simply put, there are many on both sides of the political isle that would contend the fact Romney can only tie the President in almost every poll is a good sign that his choice in consultants (regardless of where they come from) hasn't been the best..
We finally come to the 4th video and this is actually the saddest one. It's not sad because of what Romney says so much as how right on he is and how bad it is for all of us. More or less, Romney makes the point that having a truly intellectual debate with the President is a losing game because he has already tried this at some level and he finds that his simplistic ads are better at getting voters' attention and getting their votes. Here's the sad thing..He's kind of right. In modern American politics it is the bold and catchy ad that grabs voters' attention not the cold hard facts. It is one of the most frustrating aspects of politics for me to get my head around and one of the chief reasons I started this blog in the first place. I would LOVE to say Romney is dead wrong and most American voters want a intellectual debate between the opposing sides but sadly in most cases the voters are large are so annoyed with politics that such an idea just makes them roll their eyes. However, I suppose it is nice for a politician to actually come and say what most politicians are thinking..
Now you may notice I have ignored one of the videos. That's because the final video deals with economic issues and I will freely admit, that is not my area of amateur expertise so I will just leave that be.
So, after all this, are these the videos that will finally "kill" the Romney campaign? IMHO, no. The initial news bites and headlines are and will certainly be rather damning. This is because they will be focusing on the first video and to be honest, Romney deserves some grief for that bit because it mostly just BS and rubbish. However the latter videos really give you a look into Romney's campaign and shows there are SOME smart ideas being thrown around behind the scenes.
So here is my suggestion to all my readers. I STRONGLY suggest you watch these videos before you develop an opinion instead of just reading the headlines and taking it at face value. I can't emphasize this point enough. An informed voter is truly the most powerful thing in American politics and the more there are, the better our government will gradually become. So I hope at least..
It seems the good folks at FactCheck.org also though Mr. Romney's numbers were a bit off..and by a bit I mean A LOT. Here is there excellent report on his "47%" claim now all the talk on Twitter:
Any opinions and/or views expressed in the above piece are purely those of the author and not of any political or non-political organization. Any re-posting of this work MUST include this disclaimer.