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  • September 28th, 2012

Speaking for the 47 Percent

By Joel M. Vance

             Mitt Romney has exposed himself once again.  As far as he is concerned, half the citizenry is a bunch of freeloading whiners who live only to suck off the government tit.  They didn’t earn it like he did (inherit from daddy) and he and his one percent of super rich white guys have to support them.

            He brags about his business experience and what a great job creator he would be.  He scoffed at the President’s speech which rightfully said that no one builds a business without help—from road builders to firemen, police, Medicare, Medicaid and the many other social and governmental services that smooth the way for “rugged individualism.”

            A politician once said rugged individualism was “a political banner to cover up greed.”  That politician was George Romney, father of guess who.  That same elder Romney in 1964, dismayed by the extremism of Barry Goldwater (“extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!”) warned against “the efforts of irresponsible individuals and extremist groups to infiltrate our party.”  But as Rick Perlstein writes in The Nation, about today’s Republicans, “A major American political party, shorn of all moderating influence, has finally, inalterably gone insane.”

            Mitt & Co. says let’s turn insurance coverage (and the premiums they could charge) over to insurance companies, open up the now-closed donut hole in Medicaid so those who need pills will have to pay full price for them, cripple Social Security, turn the clock back to the time of the sainted robber barons, somewhere in the late 1800s.

I’d like to ask Mr. Romney if he considers the 9.6 million military personnel covered under the Military Health Care system as freeloaders, unworthy of coverage because they aren’t out there working (i.e. working to make him a profit)?  How about the thousands who have been maimed in two Republican wars who depend on Veteran’s Administration hospitals and who are unable to work.  Does he expect them to leap out of their wheelchairs and join the work force.

Mainly what I would like to ask him (and I wish some of the useless reporters working today would ask) is how he can be so clueless about reality, how he can be so disconnected with the way things really are.  He is a robot, programmed to be an elitist, callous and cold-blooded corporate raider.  People are not real to him unless they are members of his select circle.  When he spouted off about half of America being unworthy of his attention, he was showing the real Mitt, the arrogant, unfeeling butthole who would be president.

Here is a man whose largest donors are a gambling magnate and a pair of oilmen whose history is grimy with wheeling and dealing.  These and others like them are the ones to whom Romney was talking when he peeled away his shiny exterior to disclose his grubby subsurface.  They are exploiters, every bit as heartless as the plutocrats of the Gilded Age.

It’s worth quoting again Romney’s remarks to a peer group of financial sharks at a fund raiser: “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…My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

            Republican attempts to suppress the vote are nothing new.  When FDR ran for a fourth term, Congressional Republicans tried to prevent soldiers fighting in World War Two from reading anything political in Stars and Stripes, the GI’s own newspaper.  Robert McCormick, the publisher of the extreme right wing Chicago Tribune called the paper “an out and out Communist New Deal paper.”

            It’s instructive to read Final Victory, Stanley Weintraub’s fine book on FDR’s last Presidential campaign to realize that the more things change the more they stay the same.  Harry Truman, campaigning for vice-president, nailed it when he said, “when you’re on a train, speaking from the back of a train, and the further you get away from that, the worse off you are, the worse off the country is, and the easier it gets for the stuffed shirts and the counterfeits and the fellas from Madison Avenue to put it over on the people.”

            Substitute attack ads and today’s Madison Avenue blitz for Truman’s stuffed shirts and counterfeits and you couldn’t tell the difference.  The little, much maligned guy from Missouri won the 1948 presidency by campaigning from the back of a train in every little whistle stop he could reach.  He touched people where they lived, not on television, not through lying boughten advertising.  FDR did the same with his Fireside chats, nevermind that none of them were given from a fireside, but in a radio studio.  That was the joy of old time radio—you created the world you were hearing and if you imagined a comfortable fireside, with the president talking to you, it was there in your mind.  You had to think a little and maybe pay attention to the meaning of the words—not just gaze gawp-jawed at a Madison Avenue falsification of character.  No computer imagery,no special effects, just your mind and the words of the President.

            Contrast the warmth of FDR, the feistiness of Harry Truman with the stuffy penguin-like preen of Thomas Dewey, the 1944 Republican presidential candidate.  He was famously described as looking “like the little man on a wedding cake.”  He was stiff and robotic and the parallel with Mitt Romney is unmistakable.  Dewey was no zillionaire, but neither was he a man of the people.  FDR was very rich and very privileged….but he conveyed empathy to every poor to middle class person in the country.  Harry Truman was so common as to be your neighbor.  And he and FDR represented the greatest social advances in the country’s history—Social Security, farm aid, environmental concern, civil rights (it was Truman who would integrate the armed forces) and many other program that benefited the average person. 

            Mitt Romney will never connect with Joe or Josephine Average no matter how hard he tries and Lord knows he has tried.  He isn’t average; he’s a multi-billionaire whose social circle is rich people like him.  They don’t think like we do because they can’t and, for that matter, they don’t want to.  They operate in the rarified air of opulence where the deal is everything and people are assets, not human beings.  You matter only as a unit of productivity, not as a human being and profit is based on how productive you can be made to be at how little cost.

            In Romney’s case, his overweening ambition is to be President, not because he cares so much about the good of the country, but to win the ultimate trophy, the one triumph that even his peers can’t match.  And as for the peers if they get one of their own in the catbird seat, they can run things by indirect means—especially if their chosen one is agreeable to their manipulation, is malleable to abandon principle for advantage.  So, there is the throne and the powers behind the throne and that only works to the common good with a compassionate throne and benevolent powers behind it. 

Given Mitt and the Kochs and Adelsons, the reality of compassion in a Romney administration would be as foreign as the proverbial whore in church.

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