Last week Mitt Romney took some flak for saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” He’s still taking it.
But I don’t think that was the only dumb thing he said last week.
Actually, I can understand why the Mitten didn’t reject the Donald’s endorsement. That would have taken courage. But why did he appear with him? What good did he think it would do him to have Donald Trump’s picture following him into November?
Doesn’t he already have the rich asshole vote locked up?
Mitt’s miffed because he thinks people are taking his remark about the very poor “out of context.”
Ok. Here’s what he said, in “context.”
I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor — we have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich — they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.
Ok, Mitt. In that context it’s still a dumb thing to say. If you’re very poor you’re not fine. You’re poor. Very poor. That means no money. No money for food. No money for medicine. No money for rent. If you’re very poor the safety net, if you’re lucky and it catches you, keeps you from starving and freezing to death out of doors. At best the net saves you from becoming worse than not fine. Mitt seems to think if it catches you you bounce up like a circus performer and land right back on that middle class tightrope you were walking.
Mitt wants us to look at the whole of what he said. Fine.
But as Paul Krugman points out, the whole of what he said is a lie. The safety does need to be repaired and Mitt has no intention of fixing it. Just the opposite. His proposed economic plan pretty much slices it to ribbons.
Also, while we’re at it. Mitt went on to say that he’s not concerned about the very rich either, because “they’re doing just fine.” But, again as Krugman points out, that’s a lie too, because if Mitt thinks the very rich are doing fine and are not worth his concern, why is he promising to shower them with money if he gets to the White House?
Mitt forgets---or he hopes we’ll forget---that everything candidates say on the stump is part of the larger context of their campaign. Everything they say is by extension and implication and design a reiteration of everything else they’ve said, proposed, and promised.
The larger context for Mitt is this: He’s running for the Republican nomination for President. Republicans don’t like the safety net. They don’t think it’s a net. They think it’s a king-sized, top of the line Sealy Posturepedic mattress with linen sheets and piled high with down comforters in a if not four-star hotel then a very nice Best Western with complimentary breakfasts and if you let the poor climb into it and settle under the covers they will never want to climb out.
There are no Eisenhowers left in the GOP. No Rockefellers. No Fiorello LaGuardias. No Everett Dirksens. No Howard Bakers. No George Romneys.
It’s getting to the point that there’s no place for any Ronald Reagans.
Once upon a time Republicans believed it was their job to look out for business interests while taking care of the whole country.
These days they believe that advancing corporate interests is taking care of the whole country or the whole of it that matters.
Once upon a time there were Republicans who stood up for Civil Rights.
These days Republicans on all fronts are working furiously to take away rights, from gays, from women, from black and brown-skinned Americans. The Republican base seethes with anger and hatred directed towards anyone who is not by their narrow definition US. They have made it plain that they think of millions and millions of their fellow Americans as THEM, as the enemy.
And Mitt wants their votes. And he has shown over and over and over that he will do or say anything to get them.
He demagogues every chance he gets. He lies and then he lies again and when he feels that wasn’t enough he tells an even bigger lie. He has repudiated everything he ever stood for before he started running for President in 2008. He has repudiated everything productive he did as governor of Massachusetts. It’s gotten to the point where he’s practically written those four years out of his resume. His main qualification for President, as he wants us to see it, is that he started a business that made him a pile of money.
“Vote for me cuz I’m a really rapacious rich guy with no conscience!”
And he’s done all this---debased himself, dishonored his father’s memory, insulted the intelligence of the majority of the electorate that is not made up of Right Wing yahoos and corporate greedheads and their flunkeys---to serve one single, low purpose. To get himself elected President.
That’s it. That’s all he stands for. Money and self-aggrandizement. That is the context of what he said.
And in that context, chumming up with Donald Trump makes all the sense in the world.
Photo by Monica Almeida, courtesy of the New York Times.