Yesterday, Mother Jones magazine (!) released a video that purported to show Mitt Romney at a closed door fundraiser making some very ill-advised remarks about a HUGE proportion of the American population (47%!) and their blind, “lazy” dependence on the government. He declared these voters permanently beyond his reach, which was almost certainly true before he made the comments, but now is definitely true, and then talked about his need to reach independent voters. (Today there is another clip where he imagines being a terrorist, providing fissile material to Hezbollah to hide a dirty bomb in Chicago even though you don’t need fissile material to make a dirty bomb, but that’s neither here nor there.) Anyway, these videos are exploding all over the place, obviously. You’re just not supposed to say those things!
What’s always fascinating about these political moments, of course, is both how they reveal some supposedly secret facet of the politician’s “true” character, and also how they are often based in some kind of grounded belief system. I mean, Mitt Romney might be the first person I’ve heard lay out those numbers, but it’s pretty roundly understood and accepted at this point that conservative politicians believe that everyone should be feudal slaves to a handful of millionaires because that is what Jesus Christ wants for them, right? (I do actually think it’s weird when Mitt Romney suggests that these people think they are entitled to food and shelter, because, you know, PEOPLE SHOULD BE ENTITLED TO FOOD AND SHELTER. What is his proposed alternative? Piles of dead bodies lying willy nilly through American streets?) The most immediate comparison that many news organizations have been making is to the 2008 moment when Obama was caught saying that low income voters in Pennsylvania were “cling[ing] to guns or religion”. Again: very poor choice of words, sir! And again: that moment, too, revealed a certain glimmering, fractal facet of Obama’s belief. He came off as elitist and superior because he IS elitist and condescending. (Personally, and I have almost certainly written about this before, I WANT a president who is smarter than me and knows that he is smarter than me. That’s why he should be president!) He’s a politician. He is at his very core a total asshole. The big difference between 2008 and now, of course, is that Obama wasn’t suggesting that their guns and religion be taken away from them, but simply pointing to those things as a somewhat rudely phrased explanation for why they might follow particular fear-based voting habits that go against their own self-interest. Romney’s implication is altogether different, suggesting an unbudging separation between two Americas: one America where everyone is a lazy, good for nothing succubus, draining America’s life force from the poor millionaires who worked so hard to build their lemonade empire, and a second America where people sit around in mansions eating $10,000 a plate dinners listening to a full head of hair talk about why he should be the Head of Hair in Chief. ANYWAYS, the Obama campaign has already released an on-line campaign video featuring the infamous “47 percent” clip:
It seems worth pointing out at this point that this ad is also terrible. “I just think he should be ashamed of himself and we should elect Obama to be permanent Mr. President forever.” Right. They’re all a bunch of liars and jerks. But only one of them is married to the beautiful Michelle. She can count on 143% of my love. HI MICHELLE! LOSE THE ZERO AND GET WITH THE HERO! MEEEEE! I’M THE HEROOOOOO! #michelle