Trying to understand

I’m trying to understand Mitt Romney’s explanation of his remarks to wealthy donors last May, of which a video was leaked the other day, in which he decried the “47%” of the U.S. population who don’t pay federal taxes (his numbers were a bit off, but that’s ok).

I completely get why candidate Romney would be thumping his chest last spring and flattering wealthy conservatives, in his drive to raise money for a presidential run. That kind of behind the scenes posing is part of the game of electoral politics. And I’m not completely comfortable with the leak of the video. Expecting candidates to present the same message to all audiences, even in what are supposed to be closed-door events, seems to me an impossibly high bar.

But once the video went public, I had expected him to back off at least a little from such an extreme statement. Yet Romney did just the opposite — he dug in and said he stands by the message, although he allowed that he had said it “inelegantly”.

As I understand it, the miscreants Mitt Romney warns about include those retirees who, having paid into Social Security for many years, are now living off the fund they already paid into (Social Security benefits as sole retirement income is not subject to federal taxes).

Is he saying that there is something wrong with being old while not being rich? What should these people have done instead? Refused to pay into Social Security as an act of civil disobedience? What, exactly, does Mitt Romney think he’s saying?

I’m trying to understand what the political strategy is here. And for the life of me I can’t.

3 Responses to “Trying to understand”

  1. Stephan Ahonen says:

    If there is a strategy, it’s to go after all of the self-styled John Galts who legitimately believe themselves to be temporarily embarrassed millionaires rather than the exploited proletariat, who legitimately believe that if they’re not rich it’s either because they didn’t work hard enough or the government screwed it up for them, and that is exactly the narrative that the GOP and their PR wing over at Fox News are pushing.

  2. admin says:

    Yet that strategy immediately alienates millions of retirees who did indeed work hard, paid income tax, and are now living on social security income made possible by taxes from their own wages.

    I don’t think those voters will take kindly to being mischaracterized as free-loaders.

    The political price of going after those “temporarily embarrassed” John Galts seems awfully high.

  3. Andras says:

    It seems as if Mr. Romney, who typically tailors his message, his principles and his ethics to the tastes and preferences of whatever audience he thinks he’s speaking to and vying for, is the ultimate situational man. Therefore, when he “doubles down” on his distorted version of reality, it would seem that he’s speaking to that part of the electorate with whom (he hopes) he will find agreement.

    Also, there could be an element of the boy who, trying to show off and falling on his behind, stands up and announces “I meant to do that!”

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