He's ascending rapidly in national polls, he's thinking of skipping debates, his lead in Florida is prodigious … and yet. And yet. I sound like Jack Germond but I've been covering these elections my whole adult life, and have blogged three presidential elections on the Dish – and I'm still not completely sure it's over.
We live in an economy where millions are unemployed, millions more over-worked and losing pay, and the gap between very, very rich and everyone else has widened to extremes not seen since the 1920s. The pain of economic dislocation is everywhere and only now are we finding some green shoots, as we enter the second year of slow recovery from the bottom. We also know that the key difference between Romney and Obama on the debt is that Romney wants to cut it by entitlement and discretionary spending cuts alone, while Obama would also include defense cuts and some tax increases on the very very rich.
I think Obama has a slam dunk on that argument. But Romney is an incredibly compromised person to make the case for exempting the very very rich from any sacrifices at all, while asking the poor and middle class to bear the entire burden.
He actually said yesterday that earning $360,000 a year from speeches is "not very much." I repeat: he said that earning $360,000 a year is "not very much." He has also said half-seriously earlier in the campaign that he was "unemployed" and had worried about pink slips in the past. At Bain Capital, Bill Bain gave him a guarantee that if he failed, he would be able to go back to his old job and get back pay raises he might have missed. As for being "unemployed," we now know he earns around $26 million a year and pays 15 percent tax on it – under half what I pay on my own salary, since I'm in the top percentile. He makes impulsive bets of $10,000 on national TV.
What compensates for this massive problem in his image and record? His charm? His consistency? His relatability?
(Cartoon: Mitt Romney, revealing his extreme political flexibility. AKA Mr Fantastic. I prefer Mr Plastic Fantastic myself.)