Suddenly, out of the blue, the political percentage number on everyone's lips has dropped from “99%” to “47%.” In a stunning admission to his well heeled backers at a $50,000 per plate fund raiser in Boca Raton (which, coincidentally, translates from the Spanish as “rat mouth”) Mitt Romney has dismissed 47% of the American population as hangers-on, totally government dependent, self-proclaimed victims who pay no income tax and yet expect even more “entitlements”from the federal government.
When this not-so-revelatory news from Mother Jones magazine writer David Corn popped up on the tube yesterday, I couldn't do much more than shake my head in absolute bemusement. How is it, I wondered, that a candidate for the highest elected office in the land could be so completely out of touch with half of the people over whom he hopes to preside? How could Romney be so unembarrassingly forthcoming about his views on the subject of wealth, poverty and taxation, even at a fund raising love-in amongst his own class where the chance for his comments to get into a news cycle were at least 50-50?
One of two things applies in this latest Romneyism that half of the electorate are freeloading off of his and his wealthy backers' tax remittances: Either this man is truly so isolated from reality after an entire life of privilege, beginning with his first breath, that he is cut off from the fallout of the largest financial collapse in U.S. history, or Romney just has no idea of what it takes to win an election other than raw ambition. Perhaps both. Time and time again this man has demonstrated that, as conservative writer David Brooks has said, Mittens is just not a thinker. He doesn't have the interest and brain power to really understand his country. He simply wants the job, and nothing else.
Of course the firefighters in his campaign had him call a hasty press conference in which he explained that he was speaking “off the cuff” but really, the damage was ineffably done. The great irony is that the candidate who has most wanted not to offend any Republican and who has consistently sought to stake out positions literally across the GOP/Indie voter continuum has, by opening his own mouth in “off the cuff” statements, revealed himself to the American public as an isolated member of a small class of American über-wealthy plutocrats. You can rest assured knowing that the President, in the upcoming presidential debates will attempt to make Mitt speak “off the cuff.” Something more than butterflies on one hand or disgust for po' folks on the other, must issue from Romney's mouth if he is to be viable at all. So far, it isn't happening. What we've been seeing is a man who looks just plain uncomfortable in a pair of Levis.
Romney's candidacy has been marked by a series of gaffs which flesh out his picture to the people who will vote for or against him. If, as he said, he is concentrating on the 5-10% of the so-called independent voters who will turn this election, he may well be casting off a considerable number of voters who, though attracted to him by his stated “severely” social conservatism, but who are caught up in the web of the current depression, accepting government relief for their families, looking for jobs, and in danger of losing what remains of their net wealth. In other words, do you vote for a candidate who may be nominally against Roe v. Wade but who calls you a freeloader?
The net of the thing is that he will probably drop further in the polls. In fact, betting against Romney may currently be a good one. What seemed like an even chance by my bookie friend, “Marvelous Marv,” has now switched to 3 to 5 on his winning the election.
The net fallout to Romney and his never-ending gaffs is cumulative, and the polls are beginning to show a shift. Nate Silver's “538” forecast has President Obama with a 78% chance of being reelected and winning 305 electoral votes of the 270 needed to win the election. Though Obama has been plagued by one crisis after the other, Americans are coming to understand that his steadiness and unflappability are precisely what is needed in these times. Obama has actually edged out Romney on the economy, something that a few months ago seemed impossible. The upcoming debates will be critical to Romney far more than the incumbent president.
If Romney loses the election, it is a fair bet (according to Marvelous Marv) that the Democrats will hold the senate and possibly, though a long shot, for the House to come back to them, too.
Does it get more interesting than this?