So Romney did that, and then the next night he went to Montana and he discussed the experience in front of a friendlier audience. And this is what he said:
When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren’t happy, I didn’t get the same response. That’s O.K, I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine…
But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff.
So now this is the message: I tried to reason with the blacks, I really did, but it turns out they just want a free lunch.
How’s that for bridging the racial divide? Time to wake up the Nobel committee in Oslo!
As far as free lunches go, we of course just witnessed the biggest government handout in history, one that Romney himself endorsed. Four and a half trillion dollars in bailout money already disbursed, trillions more still at risk in guarantees and loans, sixteen trillion dollars in emergency lending from the Federal Reserve, two trillion in quantitative easing, etc. etc. All of this money went to Romney’s pals in the Wall Street banks that for years helped Romney take over companies with mountains of borrowed cash. Now, after these banks crashed, executives at those same firms used those public funds to pay themselves massive salaries, which is exactly the opposite of “helping those who need help,” if you’re keeping score.
That set of facts alone made the “free stuff” speech shockingly offensive. But the problem isn’t just that Romney’s wrong, and a hypocrite, and cynically furthering dangerous and irresponsible stereotypes in order to advance some harebrained electoral ploy involving white conservative voters. What makes it gross is the way he did it.
Romney can’t even be mean with any honesty. Even when he’s pandering to viciousness, ignorance and racism, it comes across like a scaly calculation. A guy who feels like he has to take a dump on the N.A.A.C.P. in Houston in order to connect with frustrated white yahoos everywhere else is a guy who has absolutely no social instincts at all. Someone like Jesse Helms at least had a genuine emotional connection with his crazy-mean-stupid audiences. But Mitt Romney has to think his way to the lowest common denominator, which is somehow so much worse.
Most presidents have something under the hood – wit, warmth, approachability, something. Even the most liberal football fan could enjoy watching an NFL game with George Bush. And even a Klansman probably would have found some of LBJ’s jokes funny. The biggest office in the world requires someone who buzzes with enough personality to fill the job, and most of them have it.
But Romney doesn’t buzz with anything. His vision of humanity is just a million tons of meat floating around in a sea of base calculations. He’s like a teenager who stays up all night thinking of a way to improbably what made him a great leveraged buyout specialist, but in a public figure? Man, is he a disaster. It’s really incredible theater, watching the Republicans talk themselves into this guy.
Taibbi really nails the guy – and the Republicans who support him, because there simply is no “there” there. He’s just a money-making hologram.
See, it’s never been difficult to get rich in America if you’re lacking in scruples and willing to break rules. If there’s one thing the 1% has in common, it’s their willingness to make their own rules – because they’re special, you see. (Including, of course, the ones who inherited their wealth and simply have to maintain it.)
Those of us who are hampered by middle-class values like honesty and integrity may not be rich, but we’re usually smarter – and a lot more fun.