Here are a couple of telemarketing calls we will surely never get!
Hello, I’m representing the Charity for Rich People. I know…everybody else does charity giving for poor people and sick people but we wanted to do something different. Maybe they don’t really need the money but rich people need a little love too! After all, they got rich all on their own because they are both smarter and harder working than any of us. Can I count on your donation?
Hmmm…that didn’t work very well. How about this?
Hello, my candidate for president believes in giving more tax breaks to our richest citizens even if it may result in you paying a little more in taxes. It would be nice to give a tax break to everybody but the rich people are the only ones my candidate really cares about since that is where he gets most of his campaign donations. Can I count on your donation?
Although both examples get high marks for being truthful, they would get extremely low marks for effectiveness to say the least! After all, what person in their right mind would donate some of their hard earned money to somebody who doesn’t even need it?
But as absurd as these examples are, with a few changes, we may still get some to agree to part with some of their money for those who are better off, even if it is indirectly through tax policy. First of all, instead of referring to ‘rich people’ we should call them ‘job creators’. Certainly giving more tax breaks and subsidies to ‘job creators’ sounds much more appealing than just giving money to rich people. Right? And instead of talking about rich people being the most generous campaign donors, we can let the donations come in through Super PACs so the huge amount of money being raised for campaign ads (along with the identity of the contributors) isn’t quite so visible to the casual observer.
The result of these ‘changes’ now dovetails with much of the Republican/conservative narrative on what they want for our country. And as long as there are enough of those changes to make their positions palatable to the electorate, they can hope that enough voters will buy into what they have to offer.
But then comes Mitt Romney to blow the cover on what he was really thinking when he gave his now infamous secretly recorded "47 Percent" Comments given at a fundraising dinner.
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. ... [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Of course when this video was made public, it was embarrassing to Romney and many of his Republican supporters. Indeed, many conservative politicians and commentators have tried to distance themselves from these comments. But the important question is whether these were just some misspoken words that needed a correction or an apology.
When running mate Paul Ryan was interviewed about this, he didn’t disagree with the substance of Romney’s remarks but said that his words were "Obviously Inarticulate" and suggested that a job is what these people need, ignoring the fact that many of these people are retired or are the working poor who don’t earn enough to have to pay income tax. And ironically, some of these people who Romney says he is not worried about are part of his Republican base!
So there is no other conclusion than these remarks were simply an expression of Romney’s true feelings and that his only real mistake was being careless enough to be too truthful in front of an audience of like-minded, wealthy supporters who parted with $50,000 a plate to be there. Being too truthful in our imaginary telemarketing examples caused people to hang up on us. But the damage to Romney’s presidential chances by his 47 percent comments are real as more and more voters abandon him for what they see as a lack of empathy for those who are not rich like him.
In fact, this perceived lack of empathy is only now causing the Romney campaign to switch gears and mention his accomplishment of bringing universal health insurance coverage to Massachusetts while governor as evidence of his empathy.
"I got everybody in my state insured," Romney said, adding that nothing "shows more empathy and care."
True enough, but then he is gambling that he will then be able to explain why his health insurance plan was so good for Massachusetts while the almost identical Obamacare must be repealed at all costs. Here is another bit of unfortunate truth telling that was derided by the conservative publication The Weekly Standard.
And I have experience in health care reform. Now and then, the president says I’m the grandfather of Obamacare. I don’t think he meant that as a compliment, but I’ll take it. This was during my primary. We thought it might not be helpful.
Again, true enough. But the article then concludes not by questioning the truth of what Romney said, but simply by saying that, “This is a line that Romney needs to ditch in a hurry.”
So this all really begs the question. If being too truthful about what he really believes in can get Romney into so much trouble, what does it say about the man — and what he stands for?