My two cents on Romney’s “47%” comments

  • It’s not unusual for politicians to say stuff like this to private audiences – especially of wealthy donors. It’s fairly regular to “tell them what they want to hear.” That being said, Romney ought to have thought things through a little bit better before saying them.
  • A lot of what Romney said was empirically false. He fundamentally mischaracterized who these “47%” are.
  • Based on evidence from other interviews and biographies, I don’t think that, in his heart of hearts, Romney really believes everything he said at that fundraiser. I tend to agree with columnist David Brooks who wrote: “Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater.” However, it does make it harder for those who see Romney as a “kind, decent man” to continue to defend that position when he says things like that.
  • I don’t see this drastically changing the polls or election much. The effect of so-called “gaffes” is overrated in the popular political media. See: http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2012/09/17/mitt-romney-and-that-47/ But maybe not! We’ll have to see the polls a week from now and see if anything actually comes of this.
  • Indignant Democrats should remember just a few years ago that Obama said something stupid at a liberal fundraiser about “bitter” voters who “cling to guns or religion” when the economy is in poor shape. There’s a good argument that there are some qualitatively important differences between Obama’s “gaffe” and Romney’s “gaffe,” but ultimately, Romney is not the only presidential candidate who wishes he could retract comments made at a private fundraiser.

 

 

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One response to “My two cents on Romney’s “47%” comments

  1. While I have no doubt that Romney was, to a certain extent, tailoring his message to the interests of his donors, I’m not convinced that his statement wasn’t representative of his overall perspective regarding those in or near poverty. Quite frankly, I see his comments as perhaps an unfortunately blunt phrasing of a much more prevalent conservative perspective of welfare recipients. The idea that those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder lack the responsibility and motivation to lift themselves out of poverty is, I think, the logical inverse of the “We Did Build That” message that was the highlight of the Republican Convention.

    On a different note, I would tend to agree with you regarding the practical impact of Romney’s gaffe. Working on a campaign in Southeastern Ohio, however, his comments have had a significant impact. Nothing more than anecdotes, of course, but it’s been quite the buzz among both consistent democrats and independent voters. For example: a man walked into one of our offices, declared that although he had never once in his 66 years voted, he was so incensed by Romney’s comments that he wanted to register to vote for the first time. Just food for thought.

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