Has there ever been a worse presidential candidate than Mitt Romney (besides the fellow Republicans he bested in the primaries)? For sheer political ineptitude, Mitt is hard to beat. Either Romney resides so deep in the right-wing echo chamber that he can’t hear common sense whispering in his ear, or else his principles are so flexible that he may as well be a weather vane.
In either case, the latest Romney debacle–like most of the others, of his own making–is probably fatal. You can’t go around complaining that half the country won’t vote for you because they are moochers who don’t pay taxes and get big government checks, and expect people to like you. You especially can’t say it when your own tax returns, or those few you choose to release, show a pattern of off-shore and Swiss bank accounts.
Just for the record, it is accurate to say that 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes, largely because they are retired and on Social Security or have a small income, are unemployed, or just too damn poor. Even the working poor, however, pay payroll taxes.
Now it’s true that the video, released by David Corn at Mother Jones, comes from a private fundraiser held in Florida. (The host, Marc Leder is a hedge fund manager with a reputation for throwing raucous parties.) But what candidate speaking to a group of people assumes the comments are off the record, even if no reporter is present? Clearly, Romney has never heard of the iPhone. You would think that Mitt would have learned from Obama’s own brush with controversy in 2008 from comments he made at a private fundraiser.
The irony is that the Tea-Party base of the Republican party is thrilled with Romney’s comments, which is an indication of just how unmoored they are from the shores of reality. This is the Romney they’ve been waiting for. It’s also what they’ve been waiting for from vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who is a noted proponent of the Ayn Rand philosophy behind Romney’s comments. Moreover, it’s the kind of thing that religious right folks like Gary Bauer were saying just a few days ago at the Value Voters Summit.
Romney’s latest self-inflicted wound comes as the stench of failure is beginning to overwhelm the campaign. In a classic case of paid consultants fearing lower pay for their next gig if this one fails, Politico ran a devastating piece less than 24 hours before the Mother Jones tape appeared, in which numerous unnamed consultants unloaded on the Romney campaign for its incompetence. Perhaps the most stunning admission was that Romney considered hiring Ken Mehlman as his campaign advisor. Mehlman is openly gay (now), although he previously played a major role in the GOP’s attack on marriage equality as a wedge issue in 2004. (We all make our little mistakes.) In today’s Republican party how Romney could ever have even considered hiring someone like Mehlman without incurring a rain of fire from the religious right is beyond comprehension.
Coming on the heels of Romney’s disastrous remarks about the attacks in the Middle East that resulted in the death of four American diplomats, Romney’s newest comments will only solidify his image as the not-ready-for-the-Oval-Office candidate. His inability to apologize when given the chance won’t help him. With fewer than 50 days left to the election, barring some out-of-left-field event, Romney has a secured Barack Obama’s reelection. The only question now is how much damage has he done to the rest of the party.
Photo by Gage Skidmore