by Benjamin J. Kirby
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what… These are people who pay no income tax."
"My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
-- Mitt Romney, in a secretly recorded tape published at Mother Jones, here.
There are still questions out there about the origins and authenticity of the potentially devastating video showing Mitt Romney at a closed-door fundraiser make those (and more) comments above. I'll leave it to investigative reporters to deterimine if it's real or not. But from where I'm sitting, it sounds like Mitt Romney, and the Romney/Ryan Campaign hasn't come out to categorically disavow it yet, so I'm going to assume it is real. Besides, you have to admit: that sounds pretty much like something Romney would say.
And to be brutally honest about it, it is exactly how he has run his campaign. Hell, it's how the entire Republican Party picked their nominee.
Perhaps we can assume people who die without health insurance, those who aren't death penalty proponents fanatics, gay soldiers, or anyone who is not a billionaire casino mogul is in that "47 percent who are with him [President Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."
It was interesting timing that we heard this from Romney today. The political side of my brain was in a little bit different place today having seen this awful news from the Pew Research Center: Childhood Poverty Among Hispanics Sets Record, Leads Nation.
The spread of poverty across the United States that began at the onset of the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and accelerated last year hit one fast-growing demographic group especially hard: Latino children.
More Latino children are living in poverty—6.1 million in 2010—than children of any other racial or ethnic group. This marks the first time in U.S. history that the single largest group of poor children is not white. In 2010, 37.3% of poor children were Latino, 30.5% were white and 26.6% were black, according to an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center.
That's a national disgrace.
What's more, it should be a political disaster for the incumbent President of the United States, running a referendum re-election. But in a fascinating turn of events, it's not.
And not only is it not, it is not by a Grand Canyon-esque margin, 53% among women. That's the margin, the difference, between Obama and Romney with Latina voters, who "plan to vote for President Obama by a margin of 74% to 21% for Romney..." For Latino men, the difference is somewhat more modest, but still a remarkably wide gap, with 61% planning to vote for Obama and 32% for Romney.
Others might argue that it's pretty easy to get to those kinds of numbers when you've nominated a candidate who has vowed to veto the DREAM Act, and whose party, when nominating him, shouted her down with chants of USA! USA! a representative from Puerto Rico (their wild claims about an unrelated floor fight, notwithstanding). Backdrop that against a President who over-rode an inactive Congress via policy pronouncement on immigration, and it's even easier.
I'm actually a terrible guy to talk to about FOX News. I've never watched it. I mean, I've seen it, I've seen clips from what they do, but if a major national news network can't get basic maps of America right -- much less the Middle East -- I don't have much interest in what they have to say.
They have been debunked a thousand times over not as "fair and balanced," but as bat-shit insane and fanatically right-wing, and everybody knows it. Roger Ailes, the network president, is a longtime sleazebag GOP media operative, and Rupert Murdoch is the borderline-criminal Montgomery Burns caricature who owns the FOX Media empire.
Here's the deal. Poor co-host Gretchen Carlson interviews a young guy she believes was an Obama voter, is now disenfranchised and living at home, and who is going to vote for Romney. It's all a big joke, of course (watch the video; it's pretty painful), and she manages to get him off-camera fairly quickly.
Thing is, like an old guy yelling at an empty chair, the whole thing is a pretty good analogy for this campaign. The Republican campaign machine had every opportunity to make their case to the American people in fact, to make a real, legitimate case for a new direction. Aside from weak-tea "are you better of now than you were four years ago" kinds of generic questions that -- worse -- provide no real alternative answers, the Republican campaign has been utterly adrift.
The closest thing they have found to a message to date has been the "you didn't build that" line taken entirely out of context from an Obama speech a few weeks before the Convention. If you can figure out how "you didn't build that" relates to the parents of 6.1 million Latino children in poverty, you have a more politically adept mind than mine.
If it turns out that Romney really did say that -- that it's not his job to worry about 47% of us -- then we may well have just stumbled across another campaign milestone, one that will not bode well for the Romney/Ryan campaign.