The truth can become a political gaffe if it is politically incorrect or poorly phrased. I would not say Romney’s remark was totally correct but he was on the right track. Read our sidebar entitled Democracy’s Fate.
Romney was essentially correct when referring to the 47% and said “These are people who pay no income tax.” The precise number is 46.4% that pay no Federal income tax. And he was also close to the mark with the assertion that these people will vote for Obama no matter what. After all, the primary impetus behind Obamacare was to increase the number of dependency/entitlement voters. Reaching the 30 million uninsured was more rhetoric than reality.
In some ways Romney is reminiscent of Ross Perot. Both men were successful in business yet each came with generous helping of naivety in matters politic. Understandable for Perot, surprising for Romney. Mitt felt too comfortable speaking off the cuff to a group of supporters who he presumed would understand his point. But fund raisers are, for the most part, public events. By now a candidate should realize that the opposition is likely to be among the crowd, recording every word and gesture, and fishing for something that could be used against you. That’s what happened here.
Romney didn’t say he doesn’t care about the plight of the poor and disadvantaged. He didn’t say that and he didn’t mean that, but his choice of words made it easy for the opposition to characterize as such. His point was that to concern himself with the votes of people who pay no Federal income tax would be useless because the Democrats have that voting block locked up. Again, I don’t wholly agree but he is on the right track. Here is the Quote.
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
This election is a test of Tocqueville’s theory. It seems Romney knows it; he just doesn’t have Reagan’s skills of explaining it. This bit from the New York Times Opinion Page is typical of the drudge coming from the left. It is scurrilous but Romney opened the door for it.
Those people? Those miserable peasants scrounging around the castle entrance? Those lay-abouts with mouths open for a spoonful of rich folks’ bounty? Those fate-forsaken unwashed with dirty hands outstretched for help unearned? Those ingrates who bring in a pittance but reap a premium?
Only a man who has never looked up from the pit of poverty could look down his nose with such scorn.
Politics is a dirty game.