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Friday, February 3, 2012

Mitt Romney's Empathy Problem, cont...

Feb 3rd, 2012
by F. Grey Parker

The fallout from Wednesday's gaffe continues to mount... particularly on the right.

As I noted shortly after this blew up, Romney seemed not only detached from the common citizen but also from his own party.

A growing chorus of conservative voices is afraid that Romney's pronouncements about "the very poor" are a sign that he's exactly the kind of "Massachusetts Liberal" Newt has been portraying for weeks.

Some of them are also saying, flat out, that Mitt's just an idiot.

In an interview with Roll Call a few hours after Mitt made his remarks, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) openly warned Mitt that he risks solidifying that impression:

"I don’t think anyone thinks he doesn’t care about the poor, but I think he’s trying to say they’re taken care of right now with these programs. Those are the programs that are hurting, not just the poor, but our country. We need to address it at every level."

DeMint is clearly reminding the candidate of the GOP's long term goal to undo the safety net altogether. To a party has been seeking to alter the nature of the citizen/government relationship since FDR, this is a disaster of messaging.

Rush Limbaugh threw his hands up in exasperation:

"He comes across as the prototypical rich Republican. And it's gonna make it harder and harder and harder and harder to go after Obama because this turns around on him. You know, all these Wizards of Smart in the Republican establishment say, 'We can't have Newt out there! Why, Newt's gonna be the topic. We need Obama to be the topic. We need Obama to be the guy campaign's about. If Newt's out there, it's only gonna be about Newt.' Well, what evidence is there that it's not gonna be about Romney with these kinds of statements?" EMPHASES OURS

Commentary magazine's Bethany Mandel, a Heritage devotee (welfare is a scam because the poor have TVs), sees this as electoral dynamite:

"The problem is he’s now glorified a system Americans find either insufficient or too far-reaching."

Here is where I want you, dear reader, to ask yourself a question...

When was the last time you saw a player this large on the American political scene say something so stupid that everyone, across the whole spectrum, was stunned for different reasons?

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who I am almost willing to guarantee will be the VP nominee on a Romney ticket, is typical of both the young and old GOP establishment members desperate to convince us all that he simply spoke poorly:

"I think if you asked Gov. Romney, gave him another chance, he would have said it a different way, especially in this climate where everything is parsed."

Charles Krauthammer is smugly incensed:

"The idea that somehow we consign the poor to the safety net and we patch it, and dependency, is a liberal idea. It’s not our idea. And Romney is a guy who came late to his new ideology and he still can’t speak it very well."

The depth of the hole which Romney dug only days ago is staggering. It doesn't matter if you were a Carter liberal or a Reagan conservative, a W. conservative or an Obama hope-junkie... most of us can't remember having seen a completely oblivious contender before.

Jonah Goldberg sums this up:

"As a bunch of us have been writing around here for a while, the under-emphasized dynamic in this race isn’t that Romney isn’t conservative enough (though that’s obviously a real concern out there) it’s that he’s simply not a good enough politician."

Even the famously intemperate and notoriously vicious Michelle Malkin steadied her hand and summed it up this way:

"This could easily have been a Saturday Night Live parody."

Yes. It could have been.

As is so often the case in the last few years, the best framing of the whole affair comes from Mr. Stewart.


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