At what point does a candidate whose misstatements seem to indicate he’s a wealthy fat cat out of touch with the concerns of average Americans become a candidate who IS a wealthy fat cat out of touch with the concerns of average Americans?
When do Mitt Romney’s misstatements cease to be misstatements and become instead a window into his beliefs?
Romney’s astonishing statement on CNN Wednesday — “I’m not concerned about the very poor” — raises these questions.
Never mind that the entire passage appears more benign: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine.” We live in the age of sound bites, and the sound bite that has been all over the air waves is “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”
The former venture capitalist has a history of these kind of gaffes, all of which point to a very rich man who does not understand the struggles of many Americans suffering in the down economy.
There’s his seeming joke: “I’m also unemployed. I’m networking. I have my sight on a particular job.’
Then there was his $10,000 wager offer to Texas Governor Rick Perry — a sum that only reminded voters of just how rich Romney is.
In New Hampshire, he said he also feared getting “a pink slip” during his career. Right after that, Romney said he likes “being able to fire people.”
Last summer, the former Massachusetts governor told hecklers that, “Corporations are people.”
Then yesterday, Romney compounded all of this by accepting the endorsement of mega-billionaire Donald Trump.
Romney’s gaffes are fodder for his opponents, from President Obama to Newt Gingrich. They also worry conservatives. The National Review’s Jonah Goldberg believes the statement shows Romney is “not a good enough politician.” John McCormack of the Weekly Standard called it “the most idiotic thing a politician has ever said.”RedState blogger Erick Erickson says Romney “played straight into the liberal caricature that Republicans don’t have hearts.”
But what if the caricature is true? What if Romney’s statements indicate that at least this one Republican doesn’t have a heart?
Perhaps Romney’s gaffes aren’t really gaffes at all but an indication of who he is and what he believes.
Mitt Romney is a very rich man who — even if we concede that he did not inherit his money but earned it himself — grew up as the son of privilege. He never labored in the mail room; he really does believe $370,000 is not much money.
Moreover, he’s a candidate whose policies are geared to benefit his social and economic class. Take his tax policy as one indication: Romney would extend the Bush-era tax cuts, sharply cut taxes on corporations, the wealthy, and upper-middle class investors, while allowing tax breaks that help the poor expire.
According to the Tax Policy Center, those policies would result in a $69 tax cut for the average individual in the bottom 20 percent of taxpayers, while giving a whopping $164,000 tax cut to the top one percent.
Maybe Mitt Romney meant it when he said, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”