Being Mitt Romney means not knowing how to say you’re sorry

Having grossly insulted half the people he wants to govern, Romney says that his sentiments were “not elegantly stated.” But he doesn’t back off, let alone apologize.

Having grossly insulted half the people he wants to govern, Romney says that his sentiments were “not elegantly stated.” But he doesn’t back off, let alone apologize.

In the Q&A, Romney flat-out lies about what he actually said: that 47% of the American people cannot be persuaded to take responsibility for their own lives. He also keeps insisting that people who don’t pay federal income tax “don’t pay taxes,” which is either an indication of incredible ignorance or just another lie.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

33 thoughts on “Being Mitt Romney means not knowing how to say you’re sorry”

  1. Many (not all) of the party of Romney has been driven off the cliff by the demands of the partisans of the Tea Party.

    I think in some way we all knew from the start that the Tea Party was a house built on sand. It was energized by a spasm of populist road rage which can never hope to steer anything across a complex landscape which demands the driver’s attention to sharp curves and steep cliffs under changing weather conditions.

    And, unlike some other populist rages, it began as a self-hating outburst of anger, directed not at the corporations and establishments which had ruined the economy, but directed at the hapless homeowners who had taken out many of the subprime mortgages that the financial wizards had gambled on. Remember Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, which is often credited with being the inspiration for the beginning of the Tea Party Movement? Jon Stewart captured it when it happened: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-march-4-2009/cnbc-financial-advice is still a working link which records how the whole thing started.

    For the Tea Party to join Romney in his hatreds, its members will often have to engage in self-hatred, a toxic brew which can persist in the political waters for decades, but which eventually gets filtered out if a source of fresh water becomes available. This fresh water needs a large mix of good will towards those who have been poisoned by the toxic brew which they are partly responsible for having concocted. Barack Obama’s virtues include this good will. He does not succumb to the temptation of thinking that it serves the Fox Newsies jolly right for having believed Sean Hannity even as their future well being is sacrificed for the benefit of the Koch brothers. That “likeability gap” came from somewhere, after all.

    1. This fresh water needs a large mix of good will towards those who have been poisoned by the toxic brew which they are partly responsible for having concocted. Barack Obama’s virtues include this good will.

      So true. However much opprobrium everyone heaps on Barack Obama, including me and thee, the man is a virtual saint in behavior. There hasn’t been anyone this pure, this sinless, this clean as President since Harry Truman insisted on laundering his own underwear. Some might argue that his drone strikes make him a cold-blooded killer of the innocent. How sinless is that? But that’s not the argument I am positing. In regards to the American people, in his attitudes toward our population, and in his complete lack of peccadillos, this guy is Saint Bonhomie…

      1. As far as his lack of peccadillos go, I think Obama knows that if you want to be the first Democratic black president you have to be personally pure as the driven snow. And I think he’s probably known that since he decided to abandon the choom gang and go to law school.

        1. … and just think of the current state of the Democratic Party if Bill Clinton had known, and practiced, that.

  2. “There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the 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.”

    This, from a man who got $70,000 Government tax break last year for his pet horse.

    1. Holy cow – how about a 30-second tv spot showing just that? Brilliant!

      Romney’s horse got 5 times more from the government than most people receive in Social Security benefits.

    2. This isn’t quite fair. Because the horse hasn’t made much money yet, most of that tax loss has to be carried forward to future years (which means, oddly enough, that the Romneys will get more money back if marginal rates go up). So they’re paying a pile of money to accountants just in case the deduction becomes valuable later on.

      If you go back further, you have more obvious examples of Romney profiting from government largesse, like the FDIC bailout of the Bain consulting company.

      1. Is there any reasonable expectation that the horse will make money, that the activity is actually intended to make a profit? I don’t think so.

        How do you make a profit doing this anyway? Are there cash prizes that reasonably might be expected to exceed the costs of participation? Or do you sell the horse? If the latter, I suppose that some buddy of Romney’s might come forward and buy it for a ridiculous price, just to cover the decuction.

        But really, it’s a hobby and ought to be treated as such on the return.

          1. The owners of mares pay stud fees, they don’t collect them.

            That said, any profit would be made on the progeny produced by said mare.

  3. Something else that’s a lie or close to it is saying Obama’s responsible for 50% of all kids in the 50 largest cities not graduating.

    Best I can tell is that stat is from the Bush era:

    “The report found that in the nation’s 50 largest urban areas, where most low-income and minority students reside,
    [o]nly about one-half (52 percent) of students in the principal school systems of the 50 largest cities complete high school with a diploma. That rate is well below the national graduation rate of 70 percent, and even falls short of the average for urban districts across the country (60 percent). Only six of these 50 principal districts reach or exceed the national average. In the most extreme cases (Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis), fewer than 35 percent of students graduate with a diploma. (Swanson, 2008, p. 8)”

    http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/109076/chapters/Recent-Education-Reform-in-the-United-States.aspx

    Even if it’s still true under Obama (and I’m not sure it’s true), it’s hard to blame him for a condition that preceded him.

  4. The absolutely mindblowing thing I’ve learned in the last few days about Romney and his cadre is that their whole plan really is explicitly just to get elected. Unrest in the Middle East? Awe for the awesomeness that is Mitt will make that all go away. What will they do for the lackluster economy? No need to do anything, once Mitt is elected the Confidence Fairy (tm Paul Krugman) will magically cause the markets to go up and the economy to right itself. O. M. G.

    1. R-money is a case of the wealthy TV producer casting himself in the leading role out of vanity. Too little respect for “the talent” to realize he hasn’t got any.

      Think about it. The last four Democratic Presidents were all scrappy up-and-comers. They succeeded because they came up with political messages and personas that worked in their moments. (Some corruption didn’t hurt in LBJ’s case, at least.) They had loads of well-heeled funders who kept them on a leash. But those funders had the good sense to stay off stage and let the hired talent do their thing.

      The Republicans on the other hand lost track of this after Reagan. GHW Bush had a very silver spoon, but he was of a generation that had a little earnest noblesse oblige left in them. GW went the full wingnut at his Disney-fied Texas “ranch”/sound-stage while toasting the “haves and have mores” in private — he had enough “talent” to carry him with some help from Daddy’s Justices. But R-money should have remained a “bundler”, raising the money to play executive producer to somebody with some political chops.

  5. I caught a little of the press conference. Major Garrett of Fox News asked him why he says one thing in public and another in private. Fox News is tearing him down. All traditional Mark Halperin jokes aside, this really can’t be good new for Mitt Romney.

    1. Yeah, what’s with Fox these days. I hear a lot more about Fox running pieces that are critical of Rs or Romney. (don’t watch it myself) Wondering if they see where the blue-collar / talk radio audience anger is going and are ready to chase the ratings.

    2. But why does Faux News (Real NoiseTM) have a stable full of Romney campaign surrogates? Turdblossom just heads the list, you know?

      Is too much to hope that the GOP Ministry of Truth will implode this cycle?

      1. Faux News is a for profit corporation and is looking at where their audience is going. As has been pointed out NRO was already setting up the post November fairy tale that Romney was not purely Conservative before this debacle. Bill Kristol, “We deserved a Ryan/Rubio ticket”. [Isn’t that whining for an entitlement?]

        There are at least two or three election cycles until the Republican party brand is either destroyed or splits as the money party moves their assets to a replacement organization that can hold the wingnuts at arms length and hire Election Associates formerly known as candidates] who will represent the new Brand to the consumers [formerly known as suckers].

  6. The thing is, if you take out the part where he claims that all Democrats are somehow *more* on the dole than Republicans — whereas, as many have noted, once you include tax expenditures, we basically all are — if you’re the kind of person who labels interdependence/civilization the “dole,” which he is and I’m not — he was really just talking about a very real difference in how people see society, which Republicans like to label “government.”

    So to me, once he admitted it was “inelegant,” I basically don’t care any more.

    He’s right about one thing — there’s nothing he could say to me.

    Of course, it is galling given his tax avoidance, but that too is an old story. One we should immediately start talking about again!!! Hey Mitt, where’s the rest of your returns???

    1. 1. There is this weird asymmetry in US politics. The central idea of the Democrats is “diversity,” but the Republicans are worried that they will get bad press if they run against affirmative-action as it is. Instead, you get this inelegant stuff, which itself has racial tints that are more problematic than mere complaints about affirmative-action (I understand the economic and social risks of too much government welfare, but I still think this is weird). I bet the Republicans win easily if they campaign overtly on white resentment.

      2. The thing is, if you take out the part where he claims that all Democrats are somehow *more* on the dole than Republicans — whereas, as many have noted, once you include tax expenditures, we basically all are — if you’re the kind of person who labels interdependence/civilization the “dole,” which he is and I’m not — he was really just talking about a very real difference in how people see society, which Republicans like to label “government.”
      It’s not just tax expenditures. It’s also not just working for government or driving on a public road or studying at a public school or visiting a public museum or park. It’s also the fact that if somebody uses one of certains horses or lives in one of certain mansions without Mitt (or Ann) Romney saying that they can, then Mitt Romney can talk to the police so that person will be punished by the government, possibly including imprisonment. “Harrumph, property is based on consent.” Fair enough, I did not consent for Mitt Romney to own absolutely those horses and those mansions, so I am going to use them. Unless you want to be an adult and admit that property is a bundle of sticks, enforced by the government, in the interest of whoever is doing the enforcement by the government, ideally to lower transaction costs and increase the production and distribution of scarce goods and to a lesser extent to allow for self-discovery and self-expression through exclusive control of certain goods.

      1. I’m not sure I understand where you’re coming from. And it doesn’t seem to me that the Republicans are at all avoiding a race-based strategy. From where I sit, they seem to be going for it with gusto. Nor do I think support for affirmative action is the sine qua non of the DP.

        I agree though that stoking “white resentment” has oft been a winning strategy for the GOP among poorer whites. I only wish the GOP actually did anything for poor people once they win, of whatever color.

  7. My inelegance will no doubt be showing when I say Romney’s new campaign slogan should read “Vote for me, Mitt the Imbecile!”

  8. What struck me was the ease and fluidity with which Romney talked to that fundraiser audience, completely unlike the stumbling discomfort he shows when speaking to a audience that might have some lazy moochers in it.

  9. Didn’t you know that Romney is actually a stealth invention of the Democratic Party, a Manchurian candidate whose only purpose is to decimate the Republicans?

    1. well, it’s not working very well, then. Nate Silver still gives him 49% of the popular vote and about a 25% chance of winning (and that’s based on polls not the merits, of course). So ‘decimate’ is optimistic, even with the etymological meaning of ‘reduce by 1 in 10’. It may not even be a seven-percent solution. This race should have been over in April, but it is not. If the Dem voters don’t go to the polls, or are prevented from doing so by all the fraudulent anti-fraud laws the Reps are passing, then the Manchurian candidate is President on Jan 20/13.

  10. Regarding Romney’s gaffs, misstatements and inelegant language: a 50s comic once said, “I don’t have to watch what I say, I just watch what I think.”

  11. The media focuses on Mit Romney’s taxes, what about how Obama was the lead defense attorney on a case in Cook County Court that has heretofore escaped examination by the national media.
    In this case, Obama defended a Chicago slumlord and powerful political ally who was charged with a long list of offenses against poor residents. The defendant was the Woodlawn Preservation & Investment Corp., controlled by Bishop Arthur Brazier, a South Side Chicago preacher and political operator

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