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article imageOp-Ed: Mitt's 'very poor' remark, in the best light, betrays GOP ethos

By Bill Schmalfeldt     Feb 2, 2012 in Politics
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is under attack from all sides, by liberals and conservatives alike, for what he said the day after the Florida GOP Primary.
In case your television has been broken, you haven't glanced at a newspaper, turned on a radio, or seen a skywriter in the past 24 hours, here is what Mitt Romney said. We will examine the comment in the most positive light.
Here, in its complete context, is what Mitt said, paraphrased by the Washington Post. You can see it for yourself in the video attached to this story.
In an interview with CNN Wednesday morning that should have been a Florida victory lap, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney made a fumble that could give rivals an attack ad sound bite.
Asked about his economic plan, Romney said repeatedly that he was not concerned with very poor Americans, but was focused instead on helping the middle class.
Romney explained that he was confident that food stamps, housing vouchers, Medicaid and other assistance would keep the poor afloat — he pledged to fix holes in that safety net “if it needs repair.” He repeated past statements that his main focus is the middle class because those people, in his opinion, have been hardest hit by the recession (President Obama also has focused many of his efforts on the middle class).
But Romney’s awkward phrasing could give fuel to critics who argue that he does not empathize with the poorest Americans.
Liberals, of course, are horrified and delighted at the same time. Romney has demonstrated on numerous occasions that he doesn't want to fix the safety net. He wants to roll it up and store it in the shed. He is egged on by other conservatives, like Rush Limbaugh who said yesterday:
“The safety net is one of the biggest cultural problems we’ve got! We had better be worried about it just like we had better get angry over Obamacare. Obamacare is worth getting mad about. Mitt said that it wasn’t. This biz, ‘I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there’? Right, the safety net is contributing to the destruction of their humanity and their futures! “
So, the ultra right wing is beating Romney about the head and shoulders for saying he would fix the safety net for the very poor. The not-quite-as-insane right wingers are saying that even though Romney was correct if taken in full context, it was a horribly stupid thing for a leading political candidate to say.
Aaron Goldstein of the American Spectator, who -- rumor has it -- has the words "I <3 Romney" on his left buttock -- had this to say.
The official poverty rate in this country is 15.1% comprising more than 46 million people. Now one might dispute the methodology in arriving at that figure. But there's no question that many of those people in poverty are working rather than collecting welfare and yet struggle to make ends meet. Is Romney really saying he's not concerned about the plight of 46 million Americans? I don't think that is what he means to say but saying it in that manner is very bad politics indeed.
Moderate voices like Joe Gandleman at The Moderate Voice, said this:
Why is this bad for Romney:
You’ve heard of stories that write themselves? Romney is creating Democratic Party ads that write themselves.
There are many middle class Americans who won’t want a President who says nothing needs to be done with the poor. His statement reflects a truly “class warfare” mentality, suggesting that the problems of the poor can be segmented from the problems of the middle class when the issue is Americans of whatever class reeling from a bad economy and less opportunities because of it.
He has set himself up for months of being caricatured by cartoonists and being late night comedians punch lines.
His comments will offend liberals because he’s saying there’s little need to focus on the country’s poor due to a safety net and will offend liberals because his assumption is that the safety net is one worth having and/or one that has been proved effective an/or one the country can continue to afford.
He shows a lack of mouth discipline similar to…Newt Gingrich. (Separated at birth?)
Of course, liberals can barely restrain their glee.
Is there anyone who knows how to use Twitter better than liberal Andy Borowitz?
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
Romney: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. They’re all working at my house.”
2 hours ago
Andy Borowitz
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
Romney: “I misspoke before. The reason I don’t care about the poor is because they’re ugly.”
3 hours ago
Andy Borowitz
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
When Mitt Romney says what he believes it never ends well.
3 hours ago
Andy Borowitz
BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz
BREAKING: Romney Proposes Letting Poor People Eat Cake
5 hours ago
This nomination should be Mitt Romney's in a walk. It probably still will be. But if he wants to actually win a state's electoral vote, he will have to stop saying things like "I like being able to fire people" and "I'm not concerned about the very poor" because stuff like that really, really aggravates everyone. It aggravates the far right because it shows that Romney would choose to continue providing a safety net for the very poor instead of allowing them to die on the streets as the Bible commands (somewhere in there, no doubt). It aggravates the moderates because it shows Romney hasn't a clue of what the average American has to struggle with every day. The only people who want Mitt to keep saying things like that have "Obama 2012" stickers on their cars.
For their part, the far right wing again reveals its true ethos, as illustrated in this brilliant clip from the wonderful Mel Brooks Movie "History of the World, Part 1" (language alert!)
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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