Romney’s bitter clingers

Yes, that video is real. And it’s deadly.

One of the most damaging moments in the Obama campaign of 2008 was his getting caught on a cellphone video talking about how the bitterness of rural folks caught in an economic downdraft might lead them to cling to guns and religion. His tone was compassionate, but the people he was talking about understood it as contemptuous: instead of dealing with their beliefs as opinions, Obama merely diagnosed them as the product of bad conditions.  It hurt him.

Turns out Mitt Romney isn’t smart enough to benefit from the errors of others. He seems to have done roughly the same thing, much more viciously, dismissing almost half of the population as non-taxpaying moochers who think they’re entitled to get everything from the government. And Harold Pollack isn’t alone in reacting with rage to the Tax-Dodger-in-Chief complaining about his political opponents not paying taxes, when lots of us pay much more than he does.

This is the lead story on Memeorandum, and yet virtually all of the commentary is from the Blue team; even Romney’s most die-hard backers have decided they can’t improve on silence.* Certainly the Romney campaign couldn’t, as it shattered the hope some supporters must have had that this would turn out to be a hoax by having a spokesgeek issue this nonsense:

Mitt Romney wants to help all Americans struggling in the Obama economy. As the governor has made clear all year, he is concerned about the growing number of people who are dependent on the federal government, including the record number of people who are on food stamps, nearly one in six Americans in poverty, and the 23 million Americans who are struggling to find work. Mitt Romney’s plan creates 12 million new jobs in four years, grows the economy and moves Americans off of government dependency and into jobs.

Right. The people he plans to “move … off government dependency and into jobs” are the same one’s he’s already decided can never be “convinced” to “take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

From the Obama side, this is mostly a mobilization election now; he’s got a solid majority among the registered voters, if our folks turn out. Very sporting of Romney to give such a timely assist. Obama should invite him to the White House for a non-beer after the Inauguration.

I suppose it’s reasonable that O’Bama should have the Luck of the Irish. But his talent for finding self-destructing opponents – or perhaps for inducing otherwise sane opponents to self-destruct – is preternatural.

*Update Yes, they were right to keep silent, to judge by what came out when they opened their mouths. John O’Sullivan on NRO offers a stirring defense of what Romney didn’t say, ignoring what he said. Jonah Goldberg acknowledges that Romney was completely full of it factually and that his comments weren’t helpful politically, while more or less admiring Romney’s courage in expressing his contempt for the same people Goldberg despises.

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:

27 thoughts on “Romney’s bitter clingers”

  1. There are more video clips from this same occasion on the Mother Jones site. The one where he actually talks about the economy is not to be missed. I can’t wait to hear what Paul Krugman has to say about that one. It turns out that the Confidence Fairy figures to play a key role in his “plan”. The economy and “the markets” will magically pick up just due to the fact of his election.

    1. It is because of you (all those salivating over this nothing story) that people like me will have to endure another 4 years of nothing. Unless of course you count the one or two more declines in our credit rating or the hollowing of our military charged with protecting our nation (yes, even those moronic enough to support a President that steals from and devalues it’s citizens). Ladies and Gentleman, get a job!

  2. I think that the class warfare aspect of this has generally been overlooked. While Mother Jones has deleted information concerning the date and place of the speech and the audience before which it was presented, I think that it can reasonably be assumed that it was before some well-heeled donors since it was a private fundraiser. Tickets to these events would break the budget of most of us, even those above the “47%” threshold.

    Apparently, Mitt Romney is channeling Doug Neidermeyer from the film “Animal House.” See here:

    1. The event was a $50,000-a-plate May 17th event at Marc J Leder’s Boca Raton estate, which was already fairly notorious before we knew what Romney said at it.

          1. Also no word of “scantily dressed Russians danc[ing] on platforms,” who at Leder’s other parties have been a quietly eloquent rebuke to the masses of Americans who decline to “care for their lives” by stripping down & crawling up on platforms for the entertainment of job creators.

          2. No sex act recorded? There was at least one, a very difficult maneuver, generally thought impossible, more often urged upon others than undertaken by oneself. It’s particularly notable in Romney’s case, because his religion has a quite specific ban on self-pleasure, though that probably refers to acts that produce sexual pleasure without strenuous acrobatics. (And we thought Ryan was the fitness freak!)

  3. But his talent for finding self-destructing opponents – or perhaps for inducing otherwise sane opponents to self-destruct – is preternatural.

    Mark you might want to walk this back a bit.
    Who amongst the Republican main players wouldn’t have self-destructed?
    You don’t think Newt would have self-neutered?
    Or Santorum wouldn’t gone off a sanctimonious cliff like a famous coyote?
    And the lady with the crazy eyes? All she had to do was open her piehole and a train wreck would spill out…

    I think we’ve crested peak crazy but…
    The Republicans choose their flag bearer near the time where the derivative for crazy went to zero.

    1. Yes, it seems that, of the GOP field, the most reflective and responsible was Ron Paul. Isn’t that remarkable!

    2. Somehow I do think Republicans didn’t play their best cards.
      I bet some possible candidates knew that you have to look insane to please the Tea Party that were empowered in 2010 elections. Mitt Romney struggled to beat all those clowns you mentioned and, their best candidate in my opinion, Jon Huntsman Jr.’s poor performance are the proof that the Tea Party has a heavy hand on the candidates (not to mention Paul Ryan!). The Republican Party has one guy who was talked about in the pre-primaries: Sen. John Thune. I don’t think I dreamed about it, so I guess I’ve read something about General David Petraeus which is so respected that would be tough to beat, despite the fact the election is about the economy and not national security.

      1. Somehow I do think Republicans didn’t play their best cards.

        Well, when you’re not playing with a full deck…

  4. It not so much the good luck of Obama but the sorry state of the GOP in the 21st century. McCain and Romney came undone because Obama did not. Obama’s refusal to self destruct forced McCain and now Romney to run on GOP ideas and they really don’t have any. Since Ronald Reagan, GOP economic policy is a tax cut for top earners, more defense spending (seriously, no amount is too much)cut any and every government program that doesn’t transfer tax dollars to GOP donors (GOP’s Medicare Part D only makes since when viewed as a multiBillion dollar transfer to big Pharma)and remove has many banking and environmental regulations as they can get away with. It’s a party dedicated to raping and pillaging the Federal government until it is bankrupted.

    If the GOP nominee can’t run on his support for the pledge of allegiance, God in schools, and blind patriotism and must actually defend their policies, they come undone.

    Fortunately for the GOP, Democrats only rarely force them to substance.

    1. you forgot privatization of public schools, a half-trillion dollar pot of public money that the corporations and their assorted grifters, lobbyists, shills, consultants, and hangers-on are slavering to get at

  5. Goodbye, Mr. Romney.
    We don’t want to see you anywhere NEAR the White House.
    It is going to be a lot more than 47% of Americans who vote against you.
    You are not only cynical and vacant, you are frightening.
    Go back where you came from.

    1. He must surely be the wickedest, most worthless skunk ever to win a major party nomination for the office.

  6. I don’t go in for supernatural explanations, but if it turns out that Jack Ryan attended one of Marc Leder’s sex parties, well, I’m not going to know what to make of it.

    1. I wouldn’t bet against Jack Ryan, Illinois Republican and noted swinger, having done so. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, I wouldn’t care to speculate.

  7. I disagree that there’s much similarity to the 2008 “bitter” video, other than the fact that both were surreptitiously recorded. Obama’s point was that politicians keep offering to help poor people but don’t deliver so they believe in other things to help them instead, however irrationally (is having a gun collection going to help feed your family?) Obama was saying that we should do something to actually help them and they would change their view of the government.
    Romney, on the other hand, has nothing but contempt for the 47%. They won’t vote for him, they’re dependent moochers, and that “[his] job is is not to worry about those people.” Charitably he was saying he doesn’t need to worry about them for the election, but it sounds more like it’s not his job to be their President or try to help them, should he be elected. Polar opposite of Obama’s attitude, which given their backgrounds (community organizer vs. vulture capitalist) is not surprising.

  8. Instead of Romney’s bitter clingers, how about we just refer to them as America’s dingleberries?

  9. His tone was compassionate

    Arguments over “tone” are a mugs game, but I do disagree. His tone was condescending. It’s a sad fact that while Republican populism is a myth, Democratic elitism is not.

  10. What gets me is that the Bible itself commends clinging to religion: “I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.”—Psalm 63:8 (NIV) So what Obama can’t be all that bad.

    On the other hand, I’d have to admit the Bible nowhere commends clinging to guns. Though maybe such advice appears in one of the lost Gospels.

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