Mitt Romney has spent the last year struggling to get Americans to identify with a draft-dodging, tax-avoiding, corporate-raiding multi-millionaire who refuses to admit he was born rich and enjoys being able to fire people who don’t please him. And finally, he’s done it.
I almost feel bad for Mitt.
Has a national candidate — excluding Sarah Palin — ever had a worse week than Mitt Romney just bumbled through? In less than a week, Mitt managed to evoke comparisons to Barry Goldwater, Gordon Brown and Richard Nixon. And that’s being generous.
Not since Barry Goldwater said, “Sometimes I think this country would be better off if we could just saw off the eastern seaboard and let it float out to sea” has any major party candidate for president alienated such a huge chunk of the United States with just a few words. But unlike Goldwater’s dismissal of a third of the country, Mitt’s comments were made privately. And thus, they were even more honest… and more cutting.
Steve Kornacki of Salon.com points out that the only incident that could be compared to RomneyTape was when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was caught in 2010 on a hot mic calling a Labour supporter a “bigoted woman.” Brown was insulting a particular woman with a particular trait. But it reinforced a narrative that he disdained a large swath of voters.
Both Goldwater and Brown lost their elections, of course.
Romney being caught on video denigrating 47 percent of Americans to his rich donors is really unprecedentedly bad. In his own voice and pixelated image, Mitt revealed that he is pretty much the heartless caricature his detractors have imagined. He’s the kind of guy who can accuse you of wanting “free stuff” while soliciting millions in donations and trying to give himself a massive tax break.
Romney’s response to the tape’s release was to basically affirm that what we heard in the video reflected what he believes, but said in an “inelegant” way. But the problem for Mitt was that in these few sentences, he was as clear and articulate as he’s ever been. What was missing was the veneer of his poll-tested BS.
Republicans in close elections across the nation realized that Mitt’s comments cut so close to the bone that they had to reject them. By Thursday, Mrs. Romney had to tell her fellow Republicans to “stop it!”
And the week kept getting worse. On Friday, Paul Ryan took his mother with him to speak to the largest senior citizen group in the country, AARP. Not since Cruella de Vil delivered the keynote at the Dalmatian convention has a speaker gotten a worse reception. It made Mitt’s visit to the NAACP look like a family reunion, as Ryan was booed so many times that reporters stopped counting.