September 19 2012
Michael Goodwin: The Truth Can Set Romney Free
Wouldn’t it be ironic if radical magazine Mother Jones’ release of a video of Mitt Romney’s latest “gaffe” ended up helping the Republican presidential candidate frame a winning campaign?
The American Spectator’s Ross Kaminsky agrees with me that this is a distinct possibility, if Romney plays it right:
While the Romney campaign must not back off the issue of Obama's utter failure in foreign policy (but do a better job than Romney did in the first hours of the Middle East and North Africa turmoil), these so-called "secret tapes" could be precisely what the campaign needs to get back on to message about Obama's government-centered society of dependency and Romney's individual-centered society of opportunity.
To be sure, Romney's wording was clumsy, and some important portion of those who don't pay income tax certainly wish they earned enough to have to pay tax. A reporter asked Romney if he thinks he offended 47 percent of the country. Surely the reporter hopes so, and Romney didn't answer the question directly. But if 47 percent of the country was going to be offended by discussion of personal responsibility, then 47 percent of the country would be Democrats.
The real issue, which Romney can and must frame to the American electorate, is that President Obama is intentionally driving us off a fiscal cliff while chasing the liberal utopia of a government-centered entitlement society and income redistribution (from the turnabout-is-fair-play files, a newly found recording of Obama from 1998, same as he's always been...)
Michael Goodwin has a column today to the same effect. Headline: “The Truth Can Set Mitt Free.” Goodwin says that, under the Michael Kinsley definition of a gaffe (telling the truth by accident), Romney is “guilty, guilty, guilty:” his remarks at the May fundraiser outlined the polarization in the U.S. over an entitlement mentality versus a personal responsibility mentality.
As a defining principle, the almost-half the nation backing President Obama wants government to do more. The other half backs Romney because it knows the government already does too much.
It is a financial fight, but also a cultural one. The entitlement mentality isn’t limited to those who earned or desperately need their country’s help.
We’re sinking because too many politicians like Obama think their job is to “level the playing field” by confiscating wealth from some Americans and giving it to others. First, they take a big cut for themselves and their friends. …
Until now, Romney has been too timid in saying so, while Obama has been more forthright in promising an ever bigger, more powerful state. Obama is winning that argument because he is a more talented politician and a better liar in claiming the endless goodies can be paid for by hiking taxes on the top 2 percent. His road leads to Greece, with stops for insolvency and soaring unemployment.
No matter. Who can resist free stuff, especially when the president says go ahead, everybody else does it? And you deserve it because society is rigged against you and America is unjust, blah, blah, blah.
This is the heart of the matter. I don’t agree with conservative commentators who have said that Romney was disdainful—he wasn’t writing off half the population if he becomes president. He was saying—quite truthfully—that he has little chance of winning the people who are dependent upon the government. He painted with too broad a brush brush—some of the people who don’t pay taxes are older people who have worked hard before retirement. And, of course, it’s bad for a politician to get caught saying he doesn’t have a shot at any segment of voters.
President Obama was able to survive the surfacing of the Reverend Wright’s anti-American sermons. The press will never swoon over a Republican the way it does over President Obama, but Mitt should remember that the president survived what was just as big an obstacle. Here is what Romney has on his side: the truth.
Little noticed in the video: Romney was good on foreign policy. He recognizes the naivete that is the cornerstone of the Obama foreign policy, and he is unsentimental about the Palestinians.
So Mother Jones may have unveiled a Mitt Romney who can make a good case to the American public about the future of our nation.