Saturday, September 22, 2012

Free Falling? Not Quite

The more I think about The Video involving Mitt Romney and his donors, the more convinced I become that there was nothing all that revelatory about it.  Really, did anything in that video surprise you?  I mean take away the self-righteous contempt for the poor, not to mention the utter ignorance for the facts, and what you’re left with is pretty much what we’ve seen from the Republican Party the last four years.  Shocked?  You shouldn’t be.  In fact, I would’ve been shocked had Romney actually said anything contrary to the established orthodoxy.

Granted, Romney didn’t expect anyone to be recording the event, so he was free to let his hair down and truly speak his mind.  In fact that may be the only news-worthy item to emerge out of this whole affair: that Mitt Romney is a conservative after all.

For months, many among the more pragmatic-progressive contingent had held out some hope that, should Romney win in November, he might be able to govern as a center/right president and, like he did in Massachusetts, reach across the aisle.  This video should put that notion to rest once and for all.  This is who Mitt Romney is and, I suspect, has always been most of his political life.  He was simply playing up to a more Democratic constituency when he was running for office in Massachusetts.  You know the old saying, when in Rome? Make no mistake about it; a President Mitt Romney would act very much like he sounded in that room with those donors.

But, far more than simply damaging, perhaps mortally, Romney’s already beleaguered campaign, the video crystalized for me what the true heart and soul – assuming it has either – of the current GOP is all about.  This is not a Party interested in reforming government to make it more efficient and responsive; this is a Party hell-bent on dismantling and discarding virtually every part of it, save for the military industrial complex, which they will no doubt bulk up as they proceed to reconstitute the Bush doctrine on a global scale.

And while they’re busy gutting the government, along with all those pesky, profit-robbing regulations, they will reward their cronies handsomely with the most grandiose, obscene tax cut imaginable, which they will then attempt to pay for by destroying what’s left of the middle class through the elimination of virtually every tax deduction possible up to and including the federal tax exemption for the working poor, something even Ronald Reagan would’ve railed against.

Just think about it for a moment.  $5 trillion in tax breaks, most of it to the wealthiest individuals in the country, and the elimination of the mortgage interest, charitable and standard deductions.  That is the biggest income redistribution quite possibly in the nation’s history, and all of it upward.  If you don’t think that’s what’s in store for America in a Romney Administration, you weren’t paying very close attention to that video.

This is the war the Republicans have been waging on the middle class and working poor for quite some time.  There’s nothing new here.  Indeed, the comments Romney made about the 47% of people who pay no income taxes have been uttered by other members of his Party over the last several years.  Most of them have flown under the radar, much to the delight of the Republican establishment.  All this video really did was to shine a giant spotlight on the obvious and make a few of the faithful squirm a bit.

Already, Senate candidates in tight races have gone out of their way to distance themselves from Romney’s comments.  Scott Brown, George Allen and Linda McMahon are among the growing contingent of Republicans who are feeling the heat from the fallout of Romney’s moment of transparency.  Moderate conservatives like David Brooks and neocons like William Kristol have publicly blasted Romney for, and I’m quoting the latter, being so “arrogant and stupid.”

Arrogant, yes; stupid, hardly.  If anything, Romney in general and the Republican Party in particular have been quite adept and resourceful.  They have preyed on the fears and frustrations of millions of potential voters for the better part of four years, hoping to cash in and complete the job they started in 2010.  And, if history is any indicator, they may just get their wish.  No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been reelected with such woeful employment numbers.  Were it not for the sheer incompetence of his campaign, Mitt Romney might well be enjoying a comfortable lead over Barack Obama.  Something to ponder.

As it is, he is still within striking distance of beating him this November.  I have long felt that the polls, which show Obama ahead both nationally and in most of the swing states, have been somewhat overly optimistic regarding his reelection prospects.  Some project him winning in a landslide.  Some progressives are even starting to sound cocky and are pronouncing Romney as finished.  Such thinking is foolish and premature.

The reality is that this remains, even with all the gaffes, an extremely close race that will go down to the wire.  Given what we know of recent presidential campaigns, there is still plenty of time left for Mitt Romney to right his ship and steam off with a victory.  If George Bush can win reelection, anything is possible.

It comes down to this: the candidate who can best sell his vision for America in the upcoming debates will win, period.  The President needs to definitively prove that Mitt Romney’s 47% comments aren’t just morally wrong, they’re factually wrong, as well.  If you’re part of the middle class or working poor, you better pray he succeeds.   

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