Romney speaks! But Republicans probably wish he hadn't
In way too many Hollywood movies, one character says to another character, "You just don't get it, do you?" Right now, I'd love to say that to Mitt Romney.
Hey, remember him? Guy whose campaign and allies spent $1.2 billion and got squat? Who tallied fewer votes than John McCain four years ago? Who will be lucky to get a speaking slot at 3 p.m. during the 2016 Republican convention? Well, it turns out that Romney, on his way to Unperson status, got on the phone yesterday to his donors and blamed his loss on the voters who (in his mind) were too greedy to resist President Obama's "gifts."
"Gifts," of course, is synonymous with "stuff" and "things" — the words most commonly used by conservatives (as I wrote here Tuesday) to disparage more than half the American electorate. Romney, to the bitter end and beyond, will apparently persist in believing that he got waxed in the Electoral College not because voters exercised their intelligence to vote for their preferred candidate, but because they were willing to be bribed.
Some plutocrats just can't stop themselves from voicing disdain for the little people.
Here are some highlights from Romney's phone rap (courtesy of the Los Angeles Times, which listened in): "The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people. In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups....
"With regards to African American voters, Obamacare was a huge plus — and was highly motivational to African American voters. You can imagine for somebody making $25, $30, $35,000 a year, being told you're now going to get free healthcare - particularly if you don't have it, getting free healthcare worth, what, $10,000 a family, in perpetuity, I mean this is huge. Likewise with Hispanic voters, free healthcare was a big plus. . . With regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for the children of illegals — the so-called Dream Act kids — was a huge plus for that voting group."
Romney said that young voters were motivated by the "big gift" of Obamacare — specifically, the provision that allows them to remain on their parents' health plan until age 26 — and by an Obama policy that helps them pay their off college loans. Romney also said that women voters, particualrly the younger ones, were motivated by the Obamacare provision that offers free contraceptive coverage. All told, he said, "The president's campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift."
Wow. Where to begin...
But before I do, I want to quote Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor who lately seems determined to reconnect the Republicans with reality. At a gubernatorial confab yesterday, he was asked whether he agreed with Romney's assessment of the election. He replied (and none of the other Republicans at the confab disputed him): "No, I think that’s absolutely wrong. . . We have got to stop dividing the American voters. . . I absolutely reject (Romney's) notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong."
True that. Romney's take on the race is wrong, from every angle.
Obama's voters did what all voters - Democratic, Republican, Whig — have done since the dawn of the republic: They calculated which candidate would make their lives better. Nothing new there. The average Joes voted to re-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt in part because his New Deal programs were aimed at reducing their unemployment, most seniors voted to re-elect George W. Bush in part because of his Medicare prescription plan. . . the list is endless, and there's no point dwelling on the obvious.
In Romney's rareified world, government policies that make little people's lives better are dismissed as "gifts" and "stuff." But government policies that make rich people's lives better — tax loopholes and deductions, lower tax rates — are fine with him. The way he sees it, policies that enhance the one percenters, or defense contracts that enrich Pentagon contractors, or perks that help the coal industry, are merely wise investments, not "gifts" and "stuff."
Romney just doesn't get it. He failed in this election not because Obama offered "gifts," but largely because the majority of voters couldn't connect with him. In the terminology of the exit polls, most voters didn't feel that he cared about people like them. Romney's disparaging remarks in that fat-cat fundraising video, about how virtually half of all Americans are slackers addicted to government largesse, fueled the disconnect. But he seems oblivious about that, because yesterday he dumped on the little people again.
Back to Bobby Jindal: "I don’t think (Ronney's post-mortem diagnosis) represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party. That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election. If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly. One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream. Period. No exceptions.
"Gov. Romney’s an honorable person that needs to be thanked for his many years of public service. . . But time and time again, biography and experience is not enough to win an election. You have to have a vision. You have to connect your policies to the aspirations of the American people. I don’t think the campaign did that."
Romney "needs to be thanked for his many years of public service"? Translation: "Buzz off and don't come back." Or, as veteran GOP strategist Ed Rogers told a reporter, "There is no Romney wing in the party that he needs to address. He never developed an emotional foothold within the GOP, so he can exit the stage anytime and no one will mourn." For soul-searching Republicans, Mitt's self-deportation would indeed be the first step toward tomorrow.
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