Let Them Eat Cake

The poster image of the elite dismissing the masses – “Let them Eat Cake” – Marie Antoinette, on the eve of the French revolution.

I did not want to do another blog post about Mitt Romney.   In fact, I had already started one that veered away from the world of politics.   But I can’t ignore this.

Here are quotes from a video secretly taken at a Romney fundraiser, unearthed and now publicized by Mother Jones:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…

Our message of low taxes doesn’t connect…so my job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the five to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful….”

Despite internal strife, Romney remains close enough in the polls to turn the election around; will this tape do him in?

Get that – Mitt Romney just put down nearly half the population as people who want government to take care of them.  Anyone who doesn’t pay federal income taxes is unworthy of respect, they are not ‘thoughtful.’

In other words, Romney’s embracing the “givers vs. takers” mentality, claiming that he represents hard working Americans who pay taxes, and Obama is the President for moochers:  People who feel “entitled” to health care, food and shelter.

The arrogance of that statement is hard to overstate.   That these words would come out of the mouth of a candidate for the Presidency is astounding.   In Romneyland the working poor and lower middle class are not struggling and needing help, they are the enemy.

I know these people who don’t pay federal income taxes.   Some teach my children, others take classes at the university, work two jobs and still don’t make enough to pay federal income taxes (though they do pay a variety of other taxes).   I know people who have been laid off and desperately want a job.   I know many conservative Republicans who don’t make enough to pay federal income taxes.   The scandal should be that income distribution has become so warped that so many people don’t make enough money to pay federal income taxes.

Now, I expect rhetoric like that from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.   It’s infuriating, but it’s part of the partisan talk show emotional entertainment meme.   But from the Republican standard barer?

Oh, but there’s more.

“My dad, as you probably, know was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico… and, uh, had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this…But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico…. I mean I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

Ha ha.    At some point I’ll have to read through the transcript, though already the video is going viral.   And this:

“When I was back in my private equity days, we went to China to buy a factory there,” Romney is heard saying. “It employed about 20,000 people. And they were almost all young women between the ages of about 18 and 22 or 23. They were saving for potentially becoming married.”

He goes on to talk about how wonderful it is for Chinese workers to have this opportunity, and compares that to America where life is “95% settled.”   This makes it hard to accept the hard line on China, or whether American jobs are his number one concern!

Images like this show the reaction of many to Obama’s 2008 comment – it did him serious harm with working class white voters.

To be sure, President Obama has been dinged by leaks from secret fundraisers.   In 2008 he talked about western Pennsylvania saying people there are beaten down and “cling to their guns and religion.”   That did serious damage to Obama’s campaign.  Hillary Clinton was able to frame Obama as an out of touch elitist, and won a series of primary victories before Obama was able to win the nomination on the strength of his early caucus victories.

In this day and age from Abu Ghraib to photos of a topless Duchess of Cambridge there is no true secrecy or privacy.  Candidates cannot let their guard down for fear of saying something embarrassing – the infamous gaffe.   Indeed, the Romney campaign based it’s Republican National Convention theme on a gaffe of Obama’s.    In trying to say “you didn’t build that” about infrastructure he timed it so that it sounded like he said business owners didn’t build their own businesses!    The Romney campaign pounced.

Perhaps this is the reason so few people pay federal income taxes

The reason gaffes become paramount is because campaigns are so scripted.    Candidates say what has passed the test of focus groups and media specialists.  Campaigns fear unscripted moments, and train candidates on how to respond.    Candidates are to only show the public the image the campaign wishes to convey.

So when a glimpse of what they really think comes forth, whether Obama’s disdain for the “guns and God” crowd, or Romney’s contempt for the poor, it’s a big deal.   Obama’s 2008 gaffe was in the primary season, and it took him months to overcome it, with some damage permanent.    What will this one mean for Romney?   The next few days will tell how the media react and if this story has legs.

Given Governor Romney’s lack of connection with voters and the negative image painted this summer by the Obama campaign of Romney as an out of touch elitist, this video has the makings of Marie Antoinette’s famous “Let them eat cake” statement on the eve of the French revolution.

  1. #1 by plainlyspoken on September 18, 2012 - 02:34

    Based upon what I read here that you posted I can only say that I feel like he is a true “Ugly American”

    I can only say that he should be damned ashamed of himself.

  2. #2 by Ron on September 18, 2012 - 04:39

    One can only hope that the voters now realize who and what he is. And, it didn[t take anyone else to bring him down…he did it all himself…thank you Mitt.

  3. #3 by Norbrook on September 18, 2012 - 10:38

    Romney has become the “open mouth, insert foot” candidate. His assertion last week that middle income is in the 200-250 thousand dollar range, when the actual median is $50,000, adds to his “out of touch” aura. I do wonder if he holds the same attitude towards General Electric. After all, they paid no federal income taxes either.

    More damning for me is not that he comes across as an overprivileged jerk, it’s that the entire way his campaign has been operating belies the notion that he’s a genius businessman. I said on my own blog, that if he ran Bain the way he’s run this campaign, it’d be known as one of the notable failures in business history.

  4. #4 by Alan Scott on September 18, 2012 - 11:33

    Scott ,

    Very interesting , , to me, , , that you have chosen to attack Governor Romney with the ” Let them eat cake ” quote . You do realize, of course, that there is serious doubt that the French Queen ever said those words . I can’t prove she did not say that line . At the time there was a group set on destroying the Royal Family of France and they used all manner of attacks such as these and it did not matter whether they were true .

    Which brings us back to your Romney quote . Your interpretation of the Governor’s meaning is consistent with your ideology . I trust that you will not behead Mitt .

    • #5 by Scott Erb on September 18, 2012 - 11:48

      It’s the image Romney’s quotes made in my mind – the wealthy nobility scoffing at the lowly peasants eeking out a living. But yeah, no guillotines!

  5. #6 by Larry Beck on September 18, 2012 - 12:02

    There’s almost an underlying whine in these comments of Romney’s that can’t understand how 47% of the people don’t like him as presidential material. His ego just can’t get its arms around the fact that all people are not always impressed with his wealth and financial success, success often earned on the back of laborers who lost their jobs and private investors who lost millions on those businesses that did fail.

    • #7 by Norbrook on September 18, 2012 - 14:13

      What’s worse is the assumptions that they’re “dependent” on federal help, and that they don’t pay taxes. Even if they’re getting refunds on their federal income taxes, they’re still paying taxes. Social Security, Medicare, employment taxes, sales taxes, gasoline taxes, and so on. Even the money they’re refunded is a “loan” to the government. You don’t notice Mitt complaining about the tax breaks he and his peers receive, which are also “government welfare.” You also don’t see them saying that the biggest beneficiaries of federal “welfare” are often considered a Republican base. Heck, all those people collecting Medicare and Social Security are the biggest parasites around. 😉

  6. #8 by Snoring Dog Studio on September 18, 2012 - 12:56

    The “private” words reveal the true measure of this man — out of touch, privileged, uncaring and self-serving. What more do people need to hear to make up their minds that he’s the worst thing that could happen to this country? Of course, his campaign is busily spinning this latest, ill-advised blurting. No wonder Romney is spending an enormous time rehearsing for the debates. The man can’t talk off the cuff without revealing the despicable human he really is.

  7. #9 by Sarah on September 18, 2012 - 16:13

    There is an interesting op-ed from David Brooks about this, http://tinyurl.com/8sm796l. He points out that Romney is talking about anyone who receives any kind of assistance including veterans who use the V.A. and college students who get loans…. Would Romney also include in the mix subsidies, such as farm subsidies that directly of indirectly assist businesses and people? Probably not. The New York times has also posted the video.

  8. #11 by helenofmarlowe on September 18, 2012 - 22:07

    Is it possible that Romney is among that 47% who pay little or no tax? How can we know?

    • #12 by classicliberal2 on September 19, 2012 - 05:26

      Yes. There’s simply no other reason for his persistent refusal to release his own tax returns, other than that they would show he, like so many men of his wealth, pays little to nothing (or less) in taxes.

  9. #13 by cortezsharkman on September 19, 2012 - 10:24

    “To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there’s more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged”. -Norman Mailer, author (1923-2007)

    Think about this and your offshore accounts, Mitt.


  10. #14 by Alan Scott on September 19, 2012 - 21:31

    ” Yet somehow he doesn’t lump the 26 profitable Fortune 500 companies who haven’t paid income taxes in several years with “those people. ”

    Hmmm, I wonner who has been President for 4 years ? I wonner who controlled the Senate during that time ? I wonner whose buddy GE is ? I believe they were number 2 on the list . I wish I knew the answers . 🙂

    • #15 by classicliberal2 on September 20, 2012 - 02:01

      “I wonner who controlled the Senate during that time?”

      That would be the Republicans, since you asked–they have, in effect, controlled the Senate throughout the time of the Democratic majority.

      “I wonner whose buddy GE is?”

      That would be Mitt Romney:

      Any more questions?

      • #16 by SShiell on September 20, 2012 - 05:43

        “That would be the Republicans, since you asked–they have, in effect, controlled the Senate throughout the time of the Democratic majority.”

        Let’s check the math here. Current makeup of the Senate:
        Democrats – 51
        Independents – 2 (Caucus with Democrats)
        Total: 53
        Republicans – 47.

        I think you should call Harry Reid immediately and inform him he is not the Senate Majority Leader – regardless what the numbers say. Either that or you should seek counselling for being numerically challenged!!!


      • #17 by Micah on September 21, 2012 - 18:26

        Shiell, the simple majority has nothing to do with it. Your response is intellectually dishonest. Check the math on republican abuse of the filibuster.

      • #18 by SShiell on September 21, 2012 - 23:29

        So, when Obama was newly elected and he had a fillibuster proof Senate, he must have gotten everything on his wish list passed with absolutely no problems wahtsoever.

        It seems funny to me that whenever Democrats use the fillibuster, it is to “protect the nation” – but when Republicans use the same measure . . .

        Tell you what – When Reid allows 30+ jobs bills passed by the House (18 of which passed with almost complete Bi-partisan support) to even come up for a vote of any kind, I will give some merit to your bullsh*t “intellectually dishonest” comment. Until then . .


      • #19 by classicliberal2 on September 24, 2012 - 03:04

        “So, when Obama was newly elected and he had a fillibuster proof Senate”

        Never, at any time, did Obama have “a filibuster proof Senate.” Not when he was newly elected. Not ever. Republicans have both always had the power to stop anything in the Senate, and have availed themselves of it, an omni-use of the filibuster that has no precedent in the history of the United States.

  11. #20 by Alan Scott on September 20, 2012 - 12:02

    I see facts constantly twisted . The first 2 years of the Obama rein Democrats had huge majorities in both Houses, except we are to believe they did not . Oh and before that I seem to remember Democrats had both Houses since 2006,

    I give you guys credit, Republicans cannot compete in the disinformation age .

  12. #21 by Scott Erb on September 21, 2012 - 20:13

    The Senate voted 58 – 40 on a Veterans jobs bill. It lost. So it seems the Republicans can control what gets through the Senate!

    • #22 by SShiell on September 21, 2012 - 23:46

      Seems I remember you arguing just the opposite in another venue!!!

      But to your point – There are a total of six federal job programs already available to veterans. One such program, the VOW To Hire Heroes Act, was signed by Obama into law in November, 2011. The Act provides businesses tax credits as an incentive to hire veterans and seeks to improve the transition from the military to the civilian workforce.

      What is not out there is any metric to determine if any of these previous Veteran’s jobs bills are doing anything for the veteran. VFW and other veterans organizations weighed in on this point throughout the life of the bill and not one word from Reid on the main question – If there are these other bills out there, what is the deficiency that requires another bill? Why don’t you just amend the deficiencies of the ones already on the books. Hello, is anybody there???

      But that was not the purpose of the bill – it is an election year and politics as usual – the Senate Democrats wanted to show their concern for the Veteran’s plight. And as a veteran, I already know the answer to that one.

      By the way, where’s the cake?!?!

  13. #23 by Scott Erb on September 22, 2012 - 00:10

    I think one thing people forget is that the two branches check each other, the President doesn’t control his own party in Congress — it’s not a parliamentary system. Reagan, for instance, had a majority in his first administration even though the Democrats held the majority in the House — southern Democrats agreed with Reagan, and supported his agenda. Obama can be criticized for what he did, didn’t do, vetoed or didn’t veto. But he can’t be blamed for what Congress does or does not do, regardless of which party is in power.

    • #24 by Snoring Dog Studio on September 22, 2012 - 11:58

      Right on, Scott. I sure wish people could stop with the soundbites and nonsense about Obama not accomplishing anything. You don’t like what’s going on in DC, people – look no further than your senators and reps. And get the damn money out of politics. Overturn or get a constitutional amendment to do away with Citizens United.

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