Finally, the Real Mittens, Deep in His Comfort Zone.

It took a “candid” video in a room full of private equity dealers to meet the real Mittens Romney. But now we see him in his element, talking the talk. What struck me first about Romney’s instantly notorious “47% victims” spiel was how confident he sounded. Gone was the nervous, halting humanoid caricature who always sounds like he wants to field research “hello” and “my name is Mitt” with the party base before uttering another sentence.

By contrast, in the Boca Raton speech, Romney’s words move with a fluid cadence. Here is the guy who built Bain Capital and at innumerable points had to build a super salesman’s relationship with skeptical sellers and bankers. (Am I the only one who has wondered how a bumbler like the public Mittens ever pulled that off?) That guy finally appears on the Boca Raton video.

I’m just back from a 10-day trip to Lake Powell, where thankfully the only media was NOAA weather radio and my iPod. So I wondered, from time to time, how many Romney gaffes were going down while I was off the grid? Romney’s fire-aim-ready response to the Libyan consulate attack was pretty good, in terms of knee jerk pandering to … well, I’m not sure, “persuadables” who want us to send troops or more money into the Arab world, and/or nuke Iran?

But this 47% business — in Lake Powell terms — is a deep slot into which I never thought Romney would take us. And of course it turns out he didn’t take us, willingly.

Moreover this 47% victim thing isn’t a “gaffe”, in that it isn’t exactly what he meant to say. Having spent some time recently interviewing corporate leaders for magazine articles, I can assure you that the “47%” business is a frequently-traded meme. What is odd is that the reality of who pays taxes and who gets “government benefits” … instead of “accepting responsibility for their own lives” (gotta love that) is easily understood by any good high school level student. Hell, even David Brooks walks his readers through a few of the most obvious inconvenient nuances of “government benefits” in today’s column. (The key element, for all the moocher grannies and grandpas in Florida, is the taxpayer cost of medical services to the elderly, lay-abouts who as we all know never did a damned thing to help themselves or instill any bootstrap values in their offspring.)

The willingness to (appear to) believe cocked-up bullshit like the “victimhood” of 47% of the population is one of my favorite psychological curiosities. To the truly informed, its junk logic, of use only as a tactical tool. I suspect most of Mitten’s private equity audience are pretty bright people, skilled at reading prospective clients/chumps. Therefore, I doubt they play the 47% card indiscriminately. Most likely they parcel it out to those they find the most politically credulous … much as Team Mittens/Ryan does, in more coded language, to the GOP’s angry, desperate-to-believe-what-they-need-to-believe base. (The essential message is of course: “Your moocher neighbor is the problem in this country, not us private equity traders.”)

It is also worth noting in this episode how once again the mainstream media was nowhere on the story and had to follow the “fringe” into the heart of the matter. But when dissecting public comments of the jockeys and trainers is the essence of your game, you will on occasion miss the extra lead in the favorite’s saddle.

One other thought. As much as the focus will continue to be on the farcical ineptitude of Romney and his campaign, it is important to remember that … this is the best the GOP has to offer. The party today is a creature gorging on unlimited and largely undisclosed fat cat/private equity money and a rube-like base, with the former’s resources keeping the latter angry and misinformed. It is a complete captive of that dynamic.

As I’ve said often, out of the hilarious, beyond-satire cast of Republican characters this season, most of them self-aggrandizing huckster charlatans, Romney was the only one who could go behind closed doors with the monied heart of the beast and speak peer-to-peer, calmly, cooly and without fear of adverse disclosure.


15 thoughts on “Finally, the Real Mittens, Deep in His Comfort Zone.

    1. I think I’ve said that the base will seize on a Romney defeat as proof that they can’t trust the Rove/deep pocket boys to pick “a real conservative” and press hard for Ryan or Rubio next time around. But face it, unless they can convince the big money guys like Adelson and your various Texas furniture tycoons to pony up, the establishment will gravitate to Jeb … who is smarter and not nearly as lazy as his brother, but would (like Romney) have to seriously debase himself in pandering for Tea Party support.

      Then they’ll have to contend with another serious and appealing evolutionary figure on the Democratic side — either Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren.

      Basically, the modern conservative “brand” grows more ridiculous and toxic by the hour.

  1. Mike Thomas says:

    A lying, hypocrite, pandering Secretary of State and a soon to be former Senate candidate? Yea I don’t think the Republicans have much to worry about if that is the competition.

    1. PM says:

      Can’t beat something with nothing…who do you think the GOP hopefuls in 2016 will be (if Obama wins in 2012)?


  2. Newt says:

    Well, well now. Here’s an unfortunate and embrassing clip of Obama segmenting America by class – ostensibly the same mistake made by Romney (but only if consistency matters).

    Full audio of 1998 ‘redistribution’ speech: Obama saw welfare recipients as ‘majority coalition’

    Read more:

    I enjoy watching liberals fein outrage. Glass houses, anyone?

  3. PM says:

    I was thinking about that 47% thing, and then I came across this:

    what is really interesting is how many people get government benefits (mortgage interest tax deduction, anyone?) and how many do not think that they are on the government dole.

    Scroll down the article for a bit, and you come to a table, where you find that 44% of Social Security beneficiaries do not think that they have used a government social program. 40% of Medicare beneficiaries; 25% of food stamp beneficiaries; etc.

    And, of course, this is far more common among the government programs that benefit the rich and the middle class, like Pell grants and 529 plans.

    And this doesn’t even get into farm programs and highways and defense and food safety regulations, etc.

    1. PM says:

      It is a benefit to those who are able to reduce their taxes by using it. Further, it is a subsidy to homeowners/mortgage holders vis a vis renters.

      1. Erik says:

        Its a tax calculation whereby a certain type of behavior is tax advantaged.

        Words have meaning. Its not a subsidy.

      2. PM says:

        A certain type of behavior is subsidized via the tax code–it is called a tax expenditure. The taxes that the government forgoes are real, and the behavior is encouraged because of the fact that the government spends money (taxes forgone).

        Yes, word do have meaning–sometimes different words have the same meaning. If you pay $200.00 less because of a tax credit or if you get a $200.00 check from the government, you are still $200.00 better off. Both are subsidies.

      3. Erik says:

        If you look at it that way, then every deduction that stops you from paying at the statutory rate is a subsidy. My sense is the word is being abused

      4. PM says:


        As a former House and Senate staffer, as well as a former lobbyist, I saw many of those tax expenditures come into being. I was also able to witness the last great effort to simplify the tax code–the 1986 Tax Reform Act. I had a ringside seat for that one, as i had worked for the main House sponsor of that bill, Dick Gephardt. We all knew that those tax breaks that we worked so hard to get rid of would be back before long–there isn’t anything you can do to stop that sort of thing and still have a democracy. But at least by clearing out all of the old stuff, hopefully the new growth of tax expenditures would at least be a little more consistent. Tax expenditures (tax breaks) are nothing more than subsidies for the well heeled, who were able to make a convincing “case” for a tax break that happened to benefit them. They did that by hiring people like me to tell them what they needed to do, where they needed to make contributions, who they needed to talk to and what they needed to say. They spent money in order to make/save a lot more money.

        Trust me, what is really being abused here is not the word subsidy, but rather the tax code.

      5. Erik says:

        I’m sure we’re not in disagreement there, but your anecdote is unrelated to my point.

        Philosophically and definitionally you are assuming tax liability for all that calculated at the statutory rates. Then, any proper deduction calculated that ameliorates what’s owed at the statutory rates is called a “subsidy”. That’s not a proper assumption.

        Food and clothing taxes exemptions are a subsidy also the way you use the word.

      6. PM says:

        I see no reason not to consider the sales tax exemptions for food and clothing a subsidy. They are a tax expenditure, a form of revenue forgone.

        Just because there are lots of subsidies out there does not means we should not be calling them subsidies.

        You seem to be assuming that subsidies are (or should be) limited in number. Why?

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