It has been difficult to get to know Mitt Romney.
His positions on important issues have changed to suit his purposes with incredible frequency. He talks a little about his family, but not with the same depth usually offered by Presidential candidates. And he is not gifted with the ability of the “easy gab”, leaving him to appear aloof and unconvincing.
As a result, voters are left with an uneasy feeling of trust issues and must fill in the blanks themselves.
In a series of videos leaked to YouTube and scooped by Mother Jones, Mr. Romney has been captured speaking off the cuff, to an intimate group of supporters at a 50,000.00 per plate private fundraiser. (The event was held at the Boca Raton home of private equity manager Marc Leder. Yes, that Marc Leder)
Mr. Romney talks at length about himself, America, the world, the election, the President and about you.
First some preamble. I am not cherry picking these quotes. You can see and hear them all for yourself, in their entirety, at Mother Jones or on YouTube. (You will also find many more clips where he talks about his days at Bain, a trip to buy a factory in China, his decision to divide his estate between his five boys, while leaving nothing to any of his future grandchildren and much, much more)
I chose these ones however, because they follow a pattern I have already highlighted on these pages and a few of them are, at the time of writing, getting little attention from the main stream media.
Romney on Israel and Palestine:
“I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.”
“what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”
“…the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable”
Mr. Romney’s feelings toward the Palestinians are well known. (On his recent fundraising trip to Israel he said that Israel was more successful due to cultural differences and the hand of providence)
Mr. Romney’s connection to Mr. Netanyahu is also well established.
Even so, it is still troubling that he has given up on achieving stability in the region through US engagement. During an election cycle where he has tried to score political points on the backs of American diplomats, I find this quite chilling and enormously hypocritical.
Romney on his fellow Americans:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what… 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…These are people who pay no income tax…. My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
First of all, his facts and figures are not correct. Fact check here. So please, do not email me asserting that what he said was true. It is not true. (If you voted for President Obama in 2008, are you dependent on government? If no, then your personal fact checking is now complete)
Now think about this line again:
“My job is is not to worry about those people”
“Those people” are Americans. And it is your job Mr. Romney, to worry about each and every American. All day, every day. It is your job to help them if they need it, to have their backs if they need you. That is called leadership. And as you have shown time and time and time again, you are failing that test.
As a candidate, if you believe in your plan, your vision for America, if you are confident that you are right, then you should worry about “those people” and work hard to convince them that you can help them.
That you have decided not to try, is also very revealing. The translation of this quote is simple: “I am not going to help these people, my policies are going to have the opposite impact, so I will ignore them”
Romney on minorities:
“we are having a much harder time with Hispanic voters, and if the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting block has in the past, why, we’re in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation.”
Perhaps if the GOP were to embrace minorities in a real way, instead of treating them like the enemy, this may not be an issue for the party. (Arizona, I am looking at you) That Mr. Romney fears for the country if minorities have a larger voice as a voting block is not surprising given his worldview. That Mr. Romney refers to groups of people as a single block (Hispanics, African Americans, Palestinians), while not surprising, is revealing.
Romney on Puffery vs Policy:
“…in a setting like this [the campaign trail], a highly intellectual subject discussion on a whole series of important topics typically doesn’t win elections.”
So does this mean that supporters at a Romney rally don’t want specifics? Don’t want solutions? Don’t want to hear that their guy has a plan? Or does he think they won’t understand? Is he inferring that his half of America, the ones he does worry about, are just going to vote for him no matter what?
I can’t help but connect the dots to Rick Santorum, who said this at the Values Voter Summit:
“We will never have the elite, smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do… So our colleges and universities, they’re not going to be on our side”
To be fair, Mr. Santorum was being sarcastic, but he was still insulting those who “think” and telling values voters that they were not smart. And Mr. Romney was saying his crowds also don’t want to think. That elections are not won on policy, but on puffy platitudes.
The real irony is that both of these men are members of that elite group who want to tell you what to do and I don’t think Mr. Romney was being truthful when he said it.
It is more likely that Mr. Romney knows full well that he can’t win a debate about facts and policy, because his view of America does not align with the view held by the majority of Americans. His plan favors the 1% and burdens the middle class with a tax increase. Fact check here.
My real concern is that perhaps Mr. Romney does not have the capacity to be comfortable speaking about a wide range of complicated issues. If this is the case, he has also shown that he does not have the advisors in place to compensate. Both issues, if at all accurate, are a cause for deep concern.
Romney on his election strategy:
“What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or another depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not…”
Even though it is hard to reconcile how a thoughtful voter votes with emotion over assessment, it is obvious at this point in the election campaign that this is now a long since lost hope.
As has been reported here and elsewhere, the GOP have all but conceded that this is now an election of the bases and have adjusted their approach accordingly.
As a result, Mr. Romney has drifted so far to the right, told so many mistruths and been so woefully inconsistent, that only values voters, single issue Republicans, low information voters (apparently like those he refers to) and voters who view democracy as a sporting event can be counted on to support Team GOP.
Thoughtful voters will have a difficult time reconciling these problems enough to support him and those voting emotionally, who are not already part of Team GOP, will have to assess what kind of American they wish to leave to their children. Affordable health care will make it tough for this last group to abandon Democrats.
As also stated in these videos, Mr. Romney has put his trust in campaign consultants shared with Bibi Netanyahu, the ads run by SuperPAC’s and his own debate performance to win this election.
Therefore, with the exception of the debates, he is leaving it to others to define him, his policies and his vision for America.
This is not indicative of the “hands on leadership” being referenced from his time at Bain, but rather of a candidate wanting to win so badly, he will do or say whatever he is told is necessary in order to accomplish that objective. It is no wonder that the result is a mishmash of inconsistency and an unwillingness to commit to specifics.
In these videos, not one word about the middle class. Not one word about an economic plan to fix the economy, other than a guess that the markets will like it if he wins. A guess immediately hedged by him quickly saying he has no idea what the markets will really do… Head spinning? Mine is.
Once again, in cases of policy, including his economic plan, it appears he has also chosen to “kick the ball down the field”.
I guess he will let the grandchildren deal with that one too.