Tuesday, November 20, 2012

That River In Egypt

Poor Mitt Romney.  I almost feel sorry for him.  He's being consigned to the GOP "black hole" like George W. Bush was, and Romney never even got to be president.  Like I said, though, I almost feel sorry for him.  If he'd have kept his mouth shut after the election, say, for about a month, he might not have been the target of barbs from the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bobby Jindahl.  He might even have achieved some respectability like John McCain has, crazy as he is, and been invited regularly to the Sunday Morning Bobbleheads.  But, alas, no.  Romney had to keep yapping to his buddies, as David Horsey pointed out in this column, giving ammunition to those in his own party and the Democrats.

As many pundits have noted, Romney's characterization of government programs as gifts was an echo of his earlier disparaging remarks about the 47% of Americans who pay no income taxes. On both occasions, he was speaking privately with a bunch of fat-cat contributors and reinforcing their demeaning stereotypes of less fortunate Americans. It seems that Romney cannot help but be himself when he is around rich people.

The so-called gifts Obama gave included partial forgiveness of student loans, a provision of Obamacare allowing young people to stay on their parents' healthcare plans to age 26, suspension of deportations for immigrant children who have grown up in the United States and healthcare for people who otherwise do not have it or cannot afford it.

What Romney calls gifts, others call lending a hand -- no different than helping people hit by a hurricane. They are programs aimed at providing opportunities for people struggling to get a start in life or rise up from chronic poverty. They are a means to end dependency and create more productive citizens. Other Republicans apparently understand this. As Los Angeles Times reporter Morgan Little described in a Sunday article, several prominent GOP leaders have taken hard shots at Romney’s elitism in recent days.

It's quite clear that Romney's elitist comments really were a turn-off  to a lot of Americans during the campaign, and several of his wife's comments (like "You people ...) grated on folks as well.  The fact that he kept changing the message to fit the audience didn't help either, because the American voter isn't always as stupid as Republicans think.  And that's the part that fascinates me right now.

The Morgan Little article cited by Horsey (see the link in the quote) is really quite telling in a lot of ways.  The GOP has decided that Republicans need to make nice to the electorate, or at least sound like it.  They are now willing to at least talk about immigration reform.  Apparently someone shoved a census report in front of party leaders and coughed loudly.  But as far as I can tell, that's about all that's been changed in the rhetoric.  Black people, the poor, the elders, gays, even the Middle Class are still not terribly important. 

The reports on the "fiscal cliff" and how the lame duck session and even the next Congress will deal with it makes it clear that Republicans are still only interested in keeping the fat cats fat and on a weight-gain program.  Fighting the Democrats on every issue and fighting the President on every appointment is still uppermost in the Republican plans.

Of course, it doesn't help that at least at this point the Democrats haven't unsheathed their swords and probably won't.  Social Security and Medicare are still being talked about as "entitlements" and compromise is still the word of the day. 

I guess I'll just have to wait for the 113th Congress and the 2014 campaigns to see what changes are possible.  I hope I have the stamina and the popcorn for that.

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Anonymous Rick said...

"the American voter isn't always as stupid as Republicans think"

Let's not forget that he did get quite a lot of votes. He must have fooled quite a few of those low information voters who heard him say a few reasonable things in the last weeks of the campaign... and didn't hear his campaign spokes-critters walk them all back the day after.

6:59 AM  

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