The world has rarely seen a more fiercely determined smile than the one that stayed fixed on Mitt Romney’s face throughout his Tuesday-afternoon interview with Fox News’s Neil Cavuto. Scrambling furiously to rescue his already-floundering campaign after Mother Jones’s release of the mother of all secret campaign tapes, the beleaguered candidate must have figured that ten minutes on Fox, his more-or-less official propaganda network, was the safest (or only) option. Instead, the segment with Cavuto provided irrefutable evidence that there is no safe ground for Romney right now. He could not, would not, so much as attempt to directly answer any of the host’s gently prodding questions about his catastrophic remarks to a $50,000-dollar-a-plate group in Boca Raton. You know, the ones about those shiftless no-hopers who just happen to make up half of the country he’s running to lead.
The surest sign that Romney has truly got nothing—nothing—with which to counter the perception he’s now left so indelibly on the national consciousness came when he served up what is clearly the campaign’s best stab so far at spinning his "47-percent" remarks. Was he accusing nearly half of Americans, including large numbers of veterans and seniors, of being “moochers?” Cavuto asked. "I do believe that we should have enough jobs and enough take-home pay such that people have the privilege of higher incomes that allow them to be paying taxes,” Romney replied, smiling all the way. “I think people would like to be paying taxes."
You heard that right, folks. The candidate with millions parked in tax-exempt zones around the world, the fellow whose economic plan revolves around tax cuts, tax cuts, and more tax cuts, the faithful representative of high-rolling Americans who fully expect him to preventthem from paying taxes—is now offering himself up as the champion of aspiring taxpayers. It is enough to leave a person speechless. If, that is, you weren’t already.
So They Say
"I'm dreaming of a white president
Just like the ones we’ve always had
A real live white man
Who knows the score
How to handle money or start a war
Wouldn’t even have to tell me what we were fighting for.”
—from Randy Newman’s new satirical ditty, “I’m Dreaming of a White President"
Daily Meme: Party Foul
- The progressive response to Mitt Romney's secret remarks released by Mother Jones yesterday was well-documented and resounding, but the conservative response was a little more mixed.
- David Brooks was not impressed by Romney. "This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. … It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. ... It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture."
- John Sununu was not impressed with Mr. Brooks: "David Brooks ought to be ashamed of himself for re-categorizing what Mitt Romney said that way.”
- Reihan Salam name-dropped a bunch of conservative thinkers who don't quite agree with Romney's take on the tax code, and said, "We need conservative politicians who are willing to explain why low-income and middle-income parents should be removed from the tax rolls during the years they are making the biggest investments in their children."
- And as Ramesh Ponnuru points out, most people "don’t see Americans as divided between makers and takers. To the extent Republicans do, they’re handicapping themselves."
- A Daily Caller reporter (Daily Caller!) called the 47 percent line of thinking "incredibly shortsighted politics and economics."
- Michael Walsh says "the hell with them" to all those fake conservatives, and throws in a Civil War analogy to boot. Because right after declaring war on half of America, it's the perfect time to bring the bloodiest war in American history to mind.
- Jim Treacher, on the other hand, is like, duh, of course that's what Romney believes. That's what we all believe, you moochers!
- Bill Kristol tries to have his cake and eat it too: "It remains important for the country that Romney wins in November (unless he chooses to step down and we get the Ryan-Rubio ticket we deserve!). But that shouldn't blind us to the fact that Romney's comments, like those of Obama four years ago, are stupid and arrogant."
- Rich Lowry isn't eating that cake: "The overall impression of Romney at this event is of someone who overheard some conservative cocktail chatter and maybe read a conservative blog or two, and is thoughtlessly repeating back what he heard and read."
- Matt Welch writes that "the reason this controversy will have legs is ultimately because many Republicans think Romney's comments were just fine. They are about to learn what the rest of the country thinks about that."
- The real solution, says Erick Erickson, is for the Romney campaign to see the press as they truly are: archenemies. There's a tack they surely haven't tried before!
- But in the end, as Nick Gillespie sums it up: "Let's not mince words: President Barack Obama is one lucky bastard."
What We're Writing
- Paul Waldman pokes fun at the newest Newsweek cover abomination by offering some suggestions for their next troll down Internet lane.
- Jamelle Bouie writes that there's no comparing Obama's "guns and religion" gaffe to Romney's secret video fiasco.
What We're Reading
- The Romney video inspires a blast of Schadenfreude in the British press.
- Molly Ball: Romney learns Tea Party-style class warfare.
- Andy Borowitz: “In what his campaign described today as a bold strategy to insure victory in the Presidential contest, Republican nominee Mitt Romney will undergo a procedure to have his mouth wired shut until Tuesday, November 6th.”
- Alex Seitz-Wald asks, does the leak snafu actually help Mitt in the long run?
- How did Mother Jones get the Romney video?
- Read more about the “private equity party boy" who hosted the fete that will give Romney a big headache for the near future.
- Andrew Sullivan: Romney vs. Disraeli.
- On a slightly different subject: Monday, Romney told Univision he’d never met Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the anti-immigration zealot who’s advised him on immigration issues during the last two campaigns. Team Romney quickly had to correct Mitt’s convenient memory lapse.
Poll of the Day
It took 44 years for Democrats to win a presidential contest in Virginia in 2008—but Obama is in good shape to repeat the feat in 2012. A new Washington Post poll has him solidly leading Romney in what’s long been expected to be a battleground state, 52-44.
For more polling information, go to the Prospect’s 2012 election map.