Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney: "Let Them Eat Cake!"

Yesterday some video emerged of Mitt Romney making kind of a boneheaded statement. That isn't particularly noteworthy in and of itself, but what does make his comments at a closed-door fundraiser a few months ago declaring the "47%" of Americans who are Obama supporters moochers who will never support him, worthy of conversation is the stark window it offers not just into Romney's worldview, but also that of those supporting him. For context, here's the full quote:
"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. ... 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."
Beyond the hazy, nonsensical math and the essential illogic of his central conceit, this is Randianism writ large. Make no mistake, other than a cursory similarity in venue, this has absolutely no correlation to Barack Obama's infamous "cling to God and guns" off-script moment that briefly ignited a blaze during the '08 campaign (and which occurred during the primaries, not the general). Jonathan Chait nicely elucidates that point:
...the spirit of Obama’s remarks was precisely the opposite of Romney’s. While Obama couched his beliefs in condescending sociological analysis about how poor small town residents vote on the basis of guns and religion rather than economics, the thrust of Obama’s argument was that he believed his policies would help them, and to urge his supporters to make common cause with them
Contrast this with Romney, who effectively writes off a big chunk of the electorate by using the old Ad Crumenam fallacy as a policy for governance. What makes all this somehow more chilling to me isn't merely that this is Romney at the most candid he's ever been since the campaign began, it's also exactly the kind of stuff his supporters want to hear and that they passionately agree with. Yikes and double yikes. Here's Ezra Klein with a great piece breaking down the faulty numbers and equally-faulty ideology underlying Romney's "Let them eat cake!" moment.

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