It hasn’t been a great couple of weeks for the Romney campaign in regards to internet videos. First there was the sight of him getting dressed down by a gay Vietnam veteran over the subject of same-sex marriage.
That video went modestly viral, and people were reminded what an awkward douchebag Mitt Romney truly is. At the moment where Mitt begins to catch on that the old man in the veteran ballcap might be playing for the other side—in various ways—you can see his face briefly twist into aristocratic rage.
He quickly regains his carefully practiced lack of human expression, but the takeaway is pretty clear to me. The peasants are not supposed to rebuke their betters, and the fact that this man can get away with such disrespect without being flogged is a shortcoming of our political system.
In a truly free market, after all.
It is also worth noting a moment early on in the video where Romney is trying to fake-sincere some sort of connection for the cameras. He asks some questions about the specifics of the old man’s military service—all while clearly giving two shits about any of it.
That moment brought something into clear focus for me: Mitt Romney thinks we’re stupid.
He clearly believes that the rubes are so impressed by his brow-furrowing that we won’t recognize when someone is trying to get one over on us. It’s similar to the corporate retail CEO who comes around the store once every so often and attempts to pretend to give a shit about the employees.
Nobody buys it, but most pretend right along with the Big Boss, out of ambition or fear of unemployment. In those situations, I’ve always assumed that the executive was in on the charade. But Mitt Romney’s people seem to actually believe the ass kissing.
Apparently, his inability to properly fake sincerity is coupled with a faulty bullshit detector.
This was further illustrated by a second video that hit the interwebs. In this one, some brave civil disobedient managed to capture an hour of the Republican candidate speaking off the cuff at a $50,000 per person dinner fundraiser. If the Vietnam veteran clip was a rock thrown at Romney’s head, this was an avalanche filled with boulders that demolished his Boston headquarters.
Among the deluge of arrogant rich man talk was an anecdote about a trip to China to prospect a mega-factory there. As he listed the conditions working in the factory—crowded dormitories, guard towers, brutal hours, miniscule pay—he showed not a shred of compassion or empathy for the women who spend their life energy making cheap-ass exports under truly soul-crushing conditions.
And then he recounted what the Chinese factory owners told him about the guard towers. See, they weren’t there to keep the women in and intimidate them into towing the line. No, not at all. It was to keep the crowds of wannabe factory workers from breaking in and just spontaneously working a shift (and then wanting to be paid for it, the nerve!).
Romney told the dinner guests this story without any hint of awareness that the nice Chinese businessmen who were trying to sell him a factory might have been less than completely straightforward in their pitch.
Interesting that Romney is running for President on the idea that his super-smart business brain will magically create 23 million jobs—don’t ask him how, that’s strictly need to know—and inspire our enemies around the globe to supplicate themselves in fear and awe. Yet, he doesn’t seem to have the sense to avoid a hustle.
Your local weed dealer has more business acumen.
This blind spot in Romney’s perception is the most likely explanation for his belief that a full 47 percent of American voters are so engorged on the government teat that they will re-elect Obama just to keep the gravy train rolling.
Let’s unpack this number a bit. In 2011, it is true that 47 percent of taxpayers had no income tax liability. That’s partially due to the financial collapse a few years ago, as many people are still broke and out of work. It’s hard to pay taxes on money you aren’t making.
Also, even if someone was too poor to owe income tax, they likely still paid Social Security and Medicare taxes. Only eight percent of taxpayers had zero federal tax liability, and they still pay sales tax and any other local and state levies that are applicable.
But Romney really believes that the lower 47 percent of American taxpayers enjoy some kind of privileged tax-free existence—no doubt because someone fed him that line of bullshit some time ago, and he liked the way it sounded, so he bought it without question.
And that is the truly scary thing about Mitt Romney getting the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Leaders who are easily manipulated and deceived have a history of allowing great evil to be done under their watch. The halls of power are largely populated by men and women with the moral values of mercenary rapists and the sales technique of an ‘80s-era junk bond trader.
They do enough damage without a President that would buy any load of crap that happened to be packaged in a pleasingly simple-minded argument.