The too-quotable Mitt Romney and the very poor


Stop talking?

Someone ought to sit him down and explain a popular notion these days called “taking quotes out of context and using them in attack ads.” In fact, they might add “taking quotes in context and using them in attack ads.” Perhaps someone from his own Restoring the Future Super PAC can help.

He has a baffling capacity for gaffes. My colleague Jonathan Capehart called his tin ear on wealth “endearing,” but I can think of other words. He must have taken that John Denver song too much to heart. Dance like no one is watching. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Speak like no one is paying attention.

On CNN Wednesday morning he told Soledad O’Brien, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.” He added that “I’m not concerned about the very rich, they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who, right now, are struggling.” When O’Brien said the equivalent of “Excuse me?” Romney attempted to modify his remarks slightly, noting, “We will hear from the Democrat party, the plight of the poor.”

Never has someone been so quotable when he didn’t want to be.

Corporations are people, my friend! Ten-thousand-dollar bet!

The context doesn’t make it much better, but it does emphasize that Romney is trying to appeal, if not to the 99 percent, at least to the 99 percent minus the very poor.

Don’t worry, they have a safety net! And if they have problems, there are Democrats around to alert us to whatever those are. I am paraphrasing only slightly.

Newt Gingrich says so many things that we’ve stopped keeping track. Another day, another six or seven hunks of red meat and one more that crosses the line. But Romney — yeergh. His are few and far between, and they’re invariably doozies.

It’s like he can’t hear how he sounds. Most of his best friends are corporations, and at times like this they generally laugh along politely and pass the golden canapes.

At this rate, he’ll show up at the next debate explaining, “Look, I’m not concerned about the poor. They have cake. I say we let them eat it.”

Sure, there’s precedent for this sort of thing. As Jesus once said, “You will always have the poor.” Of course, shortly after he said this, something very unpleasant happened to Jesus.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".
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