In the last 24-ish hours, all political hell has broken loose over a video released by Mother Jones of Mitt Romney saying that 47 percent of the population don’t pay income taxes. “It’s the end of his campaign!” people say. “You are all silly,” I say.
Before I get too much further into this, here is the quote that is the area of contention:
“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.”
I mean, yeah. That’s not the nicest thing anyone’s said about Obama voters, and is a pretty rough off-the-cuff remark, but in what world have Republicans not been saying this all along? How many times have you heard Republicans scream and fuss about those people who need to get off their butts and get a job?
Oh yeah, every day. So wouldn’t this, then, boost his conservative credentials, which – up to this point – have been badly waining?
And who, exactly, is this going to offend? Yes, it will boost the talking points of the people that were already planning on voting against him, and will give people more ability to say he’s out of touch, but it won’t offend his supporters, and I don’t think – in the end- it will have much of an impact on swing voters.
Will it offend the people in the 47 percent? No, I don’t think it will do that either.
Here’s what Ben Domenech says:
“Here’s the thing: gaffes of this nature have to have real victims in order to be workable. What helps Romney in this situation is that no one thinks they’re in the 47 percent. Even if they are! No one who was thinking of voting for Romney yesterday is standing up today saying ‘he’s criticizing me!’ Everyone thinks they’re a ‘maker,’ not a ‘taker,’ due to whatever little tax they pay, so when Mitt lays into freeloaders, even people who pay no income tax think he’s talking about someone else. It’s sort of the flip side of senior citizens saying that America needs small government while telling politicians ‘Hands off my Medicare.'”
I mean, really.
Honestly, this just isn’t going to be a big deal in a week. Even if you interpret this – and I just don’t – as Mitt Romney straight up calling everyone who is planning on voting for Obama lazy bums, it’s not going to hurt him any more than Obama generalizing by saying small-town folks were “bitter” over lost jobs and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
And honestly, if Democrats think they can ride this one until the election, they are being silly. Keep in mind that Romney raised $2.5 million at the very fundraiser he made that “gaffe” at, and he still has plenty of it to spend – probably on overcoming this video. We’ve also got the debates coming down the pipe, so I’m giving this story about a week to fade entirely from the spotlight.
But just in case you want to linger on it, take a look at the video.