Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Romney's Kinsley Gaffe, in context

I'll leave 'poor' Mitt Romney alone for a while after this, but I wanted to highlight Chait's identification of Romney's statement that he's "not concerned with the very poor" as a Kinsley Gaffe, where a politician makes the mistake of saying something that the politician actually believes.

Romney has deliberately lied about Obama, changing Obama's statement about the McCain campaign by removing the context in order to claim it was Obama's statement about himself.  Adding context to Romney's statement doesn't help him much though - he's not concerned because the poor have a safety net, and he even generously offers to fix any holes "if" any exist.  What this indicates is his true belief that there were no holes in the safety net before the Great Recession, and that nothing the Republicans have done or plan to do will create more holes.  He further believes that the very poor don't work, or apparently don't even want to work, so they're unaffected by increased unemployment and depressed wages.

Republicans with responsibilities at local and state levels are often a little more realistic than this (I know some of them), so that a former governor can actually believe this is pretty depressing.  Massachusetts is a prosperous state, so Romney didn't have to focus on the poor in quite the same way as elsewhere, but that's not a good enough reason.

Chait's one mistake is creating a distance between Romney and his campaign.  Whatever Romney "really" believes eliminate [EDIT:  should've said "does not eliminate"] his primary responsibility for his campaign.  And his Kinsley Gaffe tells us about Romney himself.

UPDATE:  Romney backpedals and acknowledges the safety net has holes, throwing under the bus those people who backed him with statements that the poor have more than enough safety nets.  Given that he's been running for president for over six years now, I'd expect him to be able to identify at least one of those holes and what he'd do to fix it.  Since he hasn't, we can weigh his promise to identify and fix the holes with an appropriate level of credulity.