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Tue Sep 18, 2012, 02:32 PM

The Real Romney Captured on Tape Turns Out to Be a Sneering Plutocrat


The Real Romney Captured on Tape Turns Out to Be a Sneering Plutocrat

By Jonathan Chait

Presidential campaigns wallow so tediously in pseudo-events and manufactured outrage that our senses can be numbed to the appearance of something genuinely momentous. Mitt Romney’s secretly recorded comments at a fund-raiser are such an event — they reveal something vital about Romney, and they disqualify his claim to the presidency.

To think of Romney’s leaked discourse as a “gaffe” grossly misdescribes its importance. Indeed the comments’ direct impact on the outcome of the election will probably be small. Romney repeated the wildly misleading but increasingly popular conservative talking point that 47 percent of Americans pay no income taxes. The federal income tax is, by design, one of the most progressive elements of the American tax system, but well over 80 percent of non-retired adults pay federal taxes. But most people hear “income taxes” and think “taxes,” which is why the trick of using one phrase to make audiences think of the other is a standard GOP trick when discussing taxes. For that very reason, it won’t strike many voters as an insult: Most people who don’t pay income taxes do pay other taxes, and fail to distinguish between them, and thus don’t consider themselves among the 47 percent scorned by Romney.

Instead the video exposes an authentic Romney as a far more sinister character than I had imagined. Here is the sneering plutocrat, fully in thrall to a series of pernicious myths that are at the heart of the mania that has seized his party. He believes that market incomes in the United States are a perfect reflection of merit. Far from seeing his own privileged upbringing as the private-school educated son of an auto executive-turned-governor as an obvious refutation of that belief, Romney cites his own life, preposterously, as a confirmation of it. (“I have inherited nothing. Everything I earned I earned the old fashioned way.”)


Obama was aspiring to become president of all of America, even that part most hostile to him, in the belief that what they shared mattered more than what divided them. Romney genuinely seems to conceive of the lowest-earning half of the population as implacably hostile parasites.

The revelations in this video come to me as a genuine shock. I have never hated Romney. I presumed his ideological makeover since he set out to run for president was largely phony, even if he was now committed to carry through with it, and to whatever extent he’d come to believe his own lines, he was oblivious or naïve about the damage he would inflict upon the poor, sick, and vulnerable. It seems unavoidable now to conclude that Romney’s embrace of Paul Ryanism is born of actual contempt for the looters and moochers, a class war on behalf of his own class.

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Reply The Real Romney Captured on Tape Turns Out to Be a Sneering Plutocrat (Original post)
babylonsister Sep 2012 OP
hedgehog Sep 2012 #1

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 02:38 PM

1. I think it's worth noting that the fundraiser did not take place in a hotel banquet hall

but rather a private home! How many of the 47% have homes like that?

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