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Hullabaloo


Sunday, September 30, 2012

 
They've been saying it for years

by digby

It looks like there are some people out there who think Romney hit the nail on the head:

Retired Air Force Major Joseph Smith said Romney's "47 percent" remark held a kernel of truth, and the truth was that President Obama "wants to buy" poor people. And Smith should know, since he says he used to run an unemployment office:

Romney was simply saying that there are a good number of people in the country on the one hand that don't pay taxes. They really don't. But they get most of the welfare and those types of handouts. Most of them would rather actually be working. And the current administration wants to buy them so they can make them dependent on the government rather than working on their own. Which is totally the antithesis of anything that this country stands for…I used to work in unemployment, run an unemployment office, I saw it everyday. I used to run the office in Virginia for almost 30 years.
Smith added off-camera that he was currently a government contractor.

Uh oh. That sounds like someone who spent his entire life as a blood-sucking gummint worker to me. But never mind. He's one of the "good ones" and I think you know what I mean.

This woman almost let it slip:

He was applauded by another woman, a Vietnam-era Air Force vet who identified herself as Jo Watts, president of the Barbara Bush Republican Women's Club. Romney's 47 percent video, Watts said, was misrepresented:

He doesn't feel that way except for…I take that back. He probably does feel that way. But he told the truth, and people don't want to hear the truth…People on the dole. It's like, how do people go off unemployment and go on disability? Where is that coming from? How did that happen? You're not disabled just because you don't have a job. We should be out there finding people jobs instead of scooting people from one dole to the other.

This does not surprise me. These views have been common among a certain group of Americans since ... well, forever. It defines their worldview. But it is highly unusual for a presidential candidate to espouse them, or at least it has been for a century or so. And it's taken its toll.

Nate Silver and other pollsters and poli-sci wonks are quite skeptical that campaign comments in general mean all that much in American politics. (Indeed, it would seem that their models indicate that voters and citizens don't have much effect on anything and that our entire system is mostly based on factors external to the democratic process.) So, when the Romney video came out Silver said he doubted that it would have much effect, because gaffes rarely do.

He wrote this on Friday:

By Sept. 17, the date when the video of Mr. Romney’s remarks was released and received widespread attention, the momentum from Mr. Obama’s convention appeared to have stalled (although not necessarily reversed itself). Mr. Obama led in the popular vote by 4.1 percentage points on that date, according to the “now-cast.”

Since then, however, Mr. Obama has gained further ground in the polls. As of Thursday, he led in the popular vote by 5.7 percentage points in the “now-cast,” a gain of 1.6 percentage points since Mr. Romney’s remarks became known to the public.

It’s hard to tell whether this recent gain for Mr. Obama reflects the effect of the “47 percent” comments specifically. But the most typical pattern after a party convention is that a candidate who gains ground in the polls cedes at least some of it back.

Instead, the more pertinent question seems not whether Mr. Obama is losing ground, but whether he is still gaining it.

The gaffe question is interesting, but I think you have to make a distinction between the usual manufactured gaffes and gotchas that make up the modern campaign narrative. They aren't real. They are opportunities for journalists to tell a story they want to tell and for the campaigns to try to spin them. But people instinctively know the difference between that and a gaffe that truly reveals the candidate saying something that is considered socially unacceptable to a majority of the country. This was one of those times.

But that is not to say that millions of people don't agree with him. He felt very comfortable saying that in front of his rich friends, of course, but there are a whole lot of Americans like those quoted above. They are sure that a huge number of their fellow Americans are lazy bums who are living off the government and by extension, them.

Head over to Mother Jones to see the videos.


Update: of course, he does have other problems.

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