Sometimes a single statement can say everything. Often these statements come as off-hand remarks, or in a setting where the speaker does not believe he or she will be recorded. A recent example from the 2008 campaign was Barack Obama’s infamous “bitter clingers” comment, which is still repeated today by his critics to depict him as elitist and disdainful towards many Americans. And now the 2012 race has its counterpart.
In comments recorded secretly from a private event, Mitt Romney laid out his assessment of 47% of America, and it’s a doozy:
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 the 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…These are people who pay no income tax…[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
I’m sick and tired of this “War on Women” meme. It portrays women as nothing more than helpless vaginas that need subsidized abortion, free birth control, subsidized daycare, special loans in order to start a business, special laws to negotiate a decent wage, and all sorts of things only sugar daddy government can provide. It is dehumanizing and insulting to the millions of strong, independent women everywhere and the millions of men who love them. If you want to see what a real “War on Women” looks like, here it is. Finally, just because someone opposes abortion and wants to cut government spending does not make them a misogynist. In fact, many feminists believe that women can and should stand on their own without the help of the government.
A few months ago, conservatives sought to gain politically by going after the contraceptive mandate implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services. This immediately became an issue of religious liberty for conservatives because it would have required religious institutions to cover contraceptives even if it was against their teachings.
Thanks to some rather nutty comments by Rick Santorum, who openly questioned the use of contraceptives, Democrats were able to spin the issue into a so-called “war on women.” The situation was exacerbated thanks to comments by Rush Limbaugh aimed at Sandra Fluke, who had argued that taxpayers should fund contraceptives. Even though Fluke’s reasoning was flawed, taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize her contraceptives, Limbaugh’s comments were completely unnecessary and wrong.
The strategy was successful in the short-term, as wedge issues usually are. However, it eventually backfired on them when Hilary Rosen, a Democratic operative, said that Ann Romney, wife of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, had never worked a day in her life.
Romney took to Twitter to defend herself, setting off a firestorm that caused Rosen to later apologize. The argument from conservatives is that Democrats are waging a “war on stay-at-moms,” largely silencing Democrats on the issue and swinging momentum back to Republicans — at least temporarily.
Mitt Romney has found himself in a bit of trouble. He spoke at a fundraiser where he claimed 47% of all Americans did not pay taxes and felt entitled to government handouts. This rhetoric has been seized upon by the Obama campaign and its allies to portray Romney as elitist and out of touch. However the image of Romney the elitist is only a small part of the problem he faces. Romney’s overall problem is that he is running a campaign that ultimately stands for nothing and does a terrible job reaching out to ordinary voters.
Even though the economy is in terrible shape with virtually nonexistent growth and unemployment hovering around 8%, Obama has consistently maintained the lead in both the national polls and in the important battleground states. You would think that in terrible economic conditions any challenger would be running stronger against Obama. However, that just hasn’t been the case this year. The American people may not like Obama’s job performance, but right now they do not see Mitt Romney as a viable alternative. They just don’t like the man. He comes off as cold and arrogant to many voters. Winning votes is essentially a sales job and people only buy things from people they like.