It’s go time, and the choice has become crystal: Romney’s Robinhood-in-Reverse world view versus President Obama’s Don’t-Kick-’Em-When-They’re-Down (and, in fact, offer a helping hand up, because that’s what fuels America) approach. Though we may think it’s delicious, America doesn’t really run on Dunkin’; America runs on the fuel of compassion.
Every breathing person on Planet Politics has now seen, or listened to, or heard about, or opined on the Romney video (full transcript here), released by Mother Jones, in which Romney, speaking to an exclusive cabal of rich folks at a big-money fundraiser, says he really doesn’t care about the “47%” because, basically, all they are is slackers looking for a handout from the “food stamp” president (and in case it isn’t crystal, his attitude isn’t exactly that “fuel of compassion” that America runs on):
“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the President no matter what, all right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it, but that’s an entitlement, and government should give it to them. And they will vote for this President no matter what. I mean, the President starts off with 48, 49 – he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax, 47% of Americans pay no income tax, so our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. He’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich, I mean that’s what they sell every four years, and so my job is not to worry about those few, I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5-10% in the center, that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or another depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what he looks like . . .”
So there you have it, and he’s absolutely right. He’ll never convince voters who do, in fact, believe people are entitled to food, housing and healthcare, and who do, in fact, believe that the government should step in with jet fuel when people are going without the basics. And because he’ll never convince us, well, we’re clearly devoid of even a shred of personal responsibility, and we carelessly hand our lives over to the government to nurture in the absence of any interest in doing it ourselves, and – of course – we’re just not thoughtful voters.
So, you ask, what’s a candidate to do when he’s busted, on video, saying outrageously bigoted and dismissive and arrogant things about nearly half the voting public, while forks are clicking on plates at this $50,000 fundraising dinner and champagne corks are popping in the background? Well, Romney grabs hold, like a life raft, of a 14-year-old video of President Obama speaking about what amounts to income equality, and he uses it to distract people from his own crumbling campaign, to bolster the right-wing notion that the President is a – gasp! – socialist, and to try to make people forget that Romney, himself, is a big dickhead.
As PoliticusUSA wrote, “The Romney campaign has embraced an edited clip of Barack Obama from 1998 claiming to be in favor redistribution. Here’s why this counterattack is destined to spectacularly fail. A desperate and drowning Mitt Romney campaign latched on to a YouTube video linked to by Drudge which claims to show that President Obama really is a socialist who favors redistribution.”
Here’s what the President actually said – 14 years ago – in Illinois:
“I think what we’re going to have to do is resuscitate the notion that government can be effective at all. There has been a systematic—I don’t think it’s too strong to call it a propaganda campaign—against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it’s been deserved: Chicago housing authority has not been a model of good policy making and neither have been necessarily the Chicago public schools.”
“What this means, then, is that we try to resuscitate this notion that we’re all in this together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live? And my suggestion, I guess, would be that the trick—and this is one of the few areas I think that there are technical issues that need to be dealt with as opposed to just political issues—I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources, and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody has got a shot.“
Wow, this is, well, just unbelievable, breaking news – wait, no it’s not. This isn’t news at all. Since when is it news that President Obama wants more income equality, and that he wants the rich to pay a little more so those at the bottom of the economic bar can achieve a better standard of living? He talked about it here, he talked about it in his State of the Union here, he was soundly thrashed by the right for talking about it here. Hell, one of the cornerstones of his campaign “banner” is income inequality.
“What drags down our entire economy,” said President Obama, “Is when there is an ultra-wide chasm between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else . . . .”
So, the collective right says knowingly, rubbing its little fat hands in glee, I guess the President’s stealthy attack on the rich and his desire to see the money spread around a little better has been OUTED. I guess, they gloat, his little sinister plot has been DERAILED.
The cornerstone of President Obama’s campaign. The topic of many of his speeches. A theme on the stump. And somebody – Drudge, or the Breitbart clones, or somebody – thinks this 14-year-old video is going to gain traction, just like the video of Romney trashing 47% of the voting public and smearing those non-tax-paying, lazy, mooching, slacking, dependent, thoughtless, careless people (i.e., the elderly, veterans, and students)? Somebody in la-la-land thinks this ancient speech – which was basically an evolving thought that has become President Obama’s stated world view – is going to damage the President’s presidential prospects in the same way the leaked video has derailed Romney’s White House hopes?
People know what President Obama stands for: He stands for us, the 47% who aren’t lazy, aren’t thoughtless, aren’t chronic feeders at the public trough, aren’t blind followers, aren’t personally irresponsible, and aren’t careless of our own lives. President Obama stands for fairness, he stands for the compassion that fuels America. He leaves the arrogance, the scorn, the sneering and the mocking of the poor, the elderly, veterans and the non-rich to Mitt Romney. Call it redistribution or compassion or fairness or justice, the President stands for what will make the 47%’s lives better.
Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
When he’s done popping champagne corks and belittling the poor, Mitt Romney should give that concept some thought.