Conservative columnist, Ross Douthat, figures it out. He's got a very useful guide to Romney's thinking in general. Why didn't we all see it sooner? That Romney can't stop thinking in Bain terms, in terms of the ruthless, ambitious consultant who establishes a reputation and relationship with clients (rich supporters paying for his services) -- those clients in this case being his Republican backers, from donors to committed voters?
Everything Romney's got is reserved for them. The rest of us are just potential takeovers, deserving of no respect or consideration. Some of us will do okay in the system; the rest of us will go bankrupt and lose our jobs. So what! Who cares! We must have been doing something wrong!
Douthat raises Obama's "bitter people who cling to guns and religion" as the same thing as Romney's 47%. Obama may have picked up on some Americans' anger, their bitterness and the growing relationship of violence and religion, but Obama's not a born segregationist and predator like Romney. As Douthat goes on to admit:
The way Obama and Romney employed these stereotypes are not actually equivalent. Both behind-closed-door comments were profoundly condescending, but only Romney explicitly wrote off the people he’s describing. As Slate’s William Saletan notes, Obama embedded his bitter- clingers characterization in a longer riff about why it’s important for Democrats to keep fighting for blue-collar votes. Romney’s remarks were more dismissive and therefore should prove more politically damaging: “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said, of millions of his fellow countrymen, and left it at that. ...NYT
Romney developed an idea about how to be a successful American -- developed it in B-school and later at Bain. It's that familiar, no-holds-barred, self-congratulatory attitude: If I want it, then it's mine by any means I can take it away. And once it's mine, I deserve it.
Aside from all this, Romney has no sense of himself -- who he really is or how he's seen. Doesn't he know, in the continuing revelations about his tax returns, that when he targets people who "pay no taxes" he comes across as an nut?
Maureen Dowd, also writing a Times column, gets it.
The candidate, who pays so little in taxes relative to his income that he has to hide tax returns and money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, then added, condescendingly: “These are people who pay no income tax.”
“So my job is not to worry about those people,” he blithely concluded. “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” What kind of presidential candidate shrugs off wooing whole groups — we’re talking many seniors and white-working-class voters in battleground states who are, if he actually knew what he was talking about, his own natural constituencies?...
... It’s literally rich: Willard, born on third base and acting self-made, whining to the rich about what a great deal in life the poor have.
We thought Romney was secretly moderate, but it turns out that he’s secretly cruel, a social Darwinist just like his running mate. ...NYT