Romney Unplugged: Reader Reax

Andrew Sullivan —  Sep 17 2012 @ 11:47pm

A reader writes:

Here's what strikes me: For the first time in years, Romney sounds like he actually means what he is saying. The traits that we're used to seeing and hearing – the plastered-on smile, the patently insincere "gee whiz" persona, the illogical disconnects, that creepy nervous laugh – they're all gone. Instead he's clear, and tough, and emphatic, laying it out like the tough businessman he claims to be. Maybe for once we're seeing the real Romney. And it's a Romney who drips with contempt for the people he would serve.


Romney acts as if anyone who payed taxes is on his side. As an Obama supporter who happily pays taxes as part of my civic duty, I don't appreciate being portrayed as a societal leech. Of course this is all comes from a man who pays a lower tax rate than a large chunk of middle-class Americans.


Romney rails against the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes while refusing to release his tax returns. Who's to say he's not talking about himself?

Another wonders, "What does the wait staff wandering through the shot when Romney is railing against poor think when he is saying this?" Another:

Leaving aside the sneering condescension Romney shows in that video towards people who would VOTE for Obama, there is an interesting line of questioning he has opened himself up for. He repeats the tired and largely debunked myth that "47% of the population don’t pay taxes", but makes sure to say INCOME taxes. Does he mean gross or net? It’s pretty easy to pay no net taxes if you have a middle-class income, have a mortgage and/or kids. Calling these people "victims" or implying that they are freeloaders is pretty crass. Is he planning on eliminating the mortgage and child credits in order to keep us lesser sorts from becoming vicitims? Is he planning on raising taxes on those who live below the poverty level?

When people really get a load of what he said, this is going to make the flap over Obama’s "clinging to guns and religion" gaffe look like nothing in comparison.


Here's why his comments are so damning: Every Independent in this country at least knows and cares about somebody who is going to vote for Obama, and they don't want to think of those people as leeches. I have family members who disagree with me politically, but they don't think I'm a bum. Far from it. I'm on the border where I hardly pay any net federal income tax, but I have a great job that pays pretty well, and I pay state income tax and payroll tax and gas tax and property tax and social security and medicare. Thus, the people in my life who are on the fence definitely don't want me put in the same category as the people they think of as 'leeches'. Everybody knows somebody in that 47%, and it's much harder to scapegoat somebody that you actually know. Independents will resent Romney for creating that awkwardness for them.


That Romney quote about people in the 47 percent not taking responsibility for their lives made me so angry I almost cried. I'm in that 47 percent. My household hasn't paid income taxes in ten years – not since my husband became seriously disabled and could no longer work. How dare Romney tell me I'm not taking responsibility. I've been nothing but responsible – responsible for raising three children and caring for my husband for five years until he died, through some very tough times. I worked part-time through much of this, but SSDI and private disability insurance made it possible for my family to survive financially. My two sons received federal loans for college. One is now a public school teacher, and a darn good one – a worthwhile investment, I'd say. The other is still in college. My third child is disabled and continues to receive SSDI, and I'm still responsible for her. I work full-time, pay payroll taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes. But I work for a not-for-profit and don't receive the kind of salary people of my abilities earn in investment banking.

The stuff that happened to me – a spouse who died prematurely, a child with a genetically-based disability – these things can happen to anyone. Anyone.

Even the Romneys:

This amazing video [seen above] of Lenore Romney, Mitt's mother, talking of her husband's BRIEF dependance on Government assistance underlines the hypocrisy of their son's views at that fundraiser. Mitt's dissing of the 47% is a direct contradiction of his own mother's accounting of being part of the 47%.

By the way, I was on food stamps and other government assistance myself for a period just over a year. And I went from there to a six figure income. Government assistance is fluid for most people, who need it only for brief periods of time.

Another reader points to this video and writes:

At another fundraiser, Mitt casually mentions that his father's family was cared for by the government when they returned to the U.S. from Mexico. Mitt's moocher family?"

One more reader:

If Obama is really, really smart, tomorrow he's going to be almost speechless about what Romney has said. He's not going to pounce; he's not going to express campaign-grade indignation; he's not going to try to score points. Rather, he'll take a moment to explain what everybody else is explaining: that a lot of the people who don't pay income taxes are the sick, the poor and the elderly, who we should all be concerned about.

You'll know tomorrow just how meep-meep Obama is. If he plays this correctly he hangs this around Romney's neck in a way that he will never be able to resolve before the first debate. If he treats it like just another campaign moment, that's how voters will see it.