Jon Chait captures why the resemblance between Romney’s 47% remarks and Obama’s “cling” comments are purely superficial …
Some pundits have likened Romney’s comments to Barack Obama’s 2008 monologue, also secretly recorded at a fundraiser, about his difficulties with white working class voters in rural Pennsylvania. But the spirit of Obama’s remarks was precisely the opposite of Romney’s. While Obama couched his beliefs in condescending sociological analysis about how poor small town residents vote on the basis of guns and religion rather than economics, the thrust of Obama’s argument was that he believed his policies would help them, and to urge his supporters to make common cause with them.
Obama was aspiring to become president of all of America, even that part most hostile to him, in the belief that what they shared mattered more than what divided them. Romney genuinely seems to conceive of the lowest-earning half of the population as implacably hostile parasites.
Like Chait, I found Romney’s comments genuinely shocking. I thought this was caricature Mitt Romney, the born-to-privilege millionaire who holds average working people in contempt as hopeless losers driven to suck money for productive people like Mitt Romney. But this is actually the real Mitt Romney. The best case for him is that he was just pandering to this wealthy crowd and doesn’t really believe this either. But that seems like a stretch.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.