What Romney’s nation of moochers and Obama’s bitter small-towners have in common


Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Only, Romney assumes they are no-account rather than misguided. And if you write off almost half of the citizens in the most exceptional country ever, isn’t what you have left only so-so?

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” Romney is seen telling supporters at a May fund-raiser in Boca Raton, Fla., on a video posted by Mother Jones on Monday. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that 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.”

Apparently, half of us were snoozing when God passed out grit, and have no dreams beyond the downy comfort of a cozy safety net. But Romney says he needn’t worry about these lost souls, electorally speaking.


U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participate in a transfer ceremony of the remains of U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed this week in Benghazi, at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, September 14, 2012. Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans died after gunmen attacked the lightly fortified U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi on Tuesday night. (JASON REED/REUTERS)

A man who grew up rich and then got richer, Romney seems to see himself as Germany to our Greece, punished for his superior habits by repeatedly having to bail out the rest of us. He accuses the president of class welfare, then explains why the “haves” deserve it and the have-nots don’t.

His view ignores that many of those who pay no federal income tax, but do pay payroll taxes, are working multiple jobs and not feeling quite the buzz that living off tuna and investment income gave him as a newlywed grad student. He also joked that he’d have an easier time getting elected if he were Latino. Questions, concerns, compliments?

How this convinces Americans that Romney understands the struggles of working people, or squares with his rhetoric about how the unemployed are good folks who have simply been let down by their government, or meshes with the fact that many of those who pay no federal income tax are elderly — and thus squarely in the demo that favors Romney more than any other — I really couldn’t say. And does this mean he thinks half of us didn’t build it, and couldn’t?

On Monday night, Romney told reporters that the snippets were not so different from his usual message on the campaign trail. But at a fundraiser, “people who are parting with their monies are very interested in knowing can you win or not,’’ he said, “and that’s what this was addressing.’’

Unlike Obama’s condescending remark about “bitter” small-towners, this is not the worst thing I’ve ever heard Romney say, or even the worst Romney remark in the last week; his accusation that our president sympathizes with the those who killed four Americans in Benghazi, not far from an al-Qaeda training camp, still holds that distinction.

Official Romney campaign scapegoat Stuart Stevens should take the rest of the night off, though; no one can say this one is on him.


Melinda Henneberger has been writing about politics and culture for the Washington Post since 2011.

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