Back to hating the 99 percent
John Avlon lacerates Mitt Romney for blaming his election defeat on “gifts” given to special interests by President Obama.
“Addressing the needs and desires of people is not a bribe or a government gift to be exchanged for a vote. It is part of the purpose of representative government as conservative forefather Edmund Burke himself once envisioned: ‘Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom.’”
“Romney’s distance from this perspective about government shows how far the conservative conversation has drifted from original principles. His impulse to rationalize defeat as victory for liberal special-interest bribery shows again that it is probably best for the country that he was not elected president this November.”
First Read: “When you think about it, Romney’s explanation for Obama’s victory is laughable — the president won because he successfully delivered to his voters. Isn’t that what politicians and presidents are supposed to do? In addition, Romney’s ‘gifts’ rationale doesn’t explain why he lost Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, states with older and whiter populations.
What’s particularly striking here: Jindal’s criticism. He was the first Republican to step up here, and it’s an easy brave moment if you’re an aspiring 2016er. A softball to hit out of the park. Romney, sounding more bitter than big in those comments, is giving plenty of aspiring Republican leaders to now use this moment to distinguish themselves from Romney. Watch for a bunch of folks on the GOP side to pile on actually.”
Rick Klein: “If Mitt Romney really believes he lost the election because President Obama gave key voting blocs ‘gifts’ — or, if he doesn’t believe it but continues to tell people that he does — he’s doing no favors to the Republican Party, his own role in it, and the healing of divisions after the election.”
It’s important to understand the roots of this stuff. It began as a deliberate appeal to racism, with explicit condemnation of Those People as welfare moochers. Then it became more coded; Rick Perlstein posts the original, famous Lee Atwater interview containing the memorable passage,
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
What Mitt Romney is now complaining about is the horrifying reality that many people who aren’t black see themselves as victims of those “economic things” — and as a result anti-government rhetoric is turning into a way to lose elections rather than win them.
And I don’t think the Republican party as currently constituted can change this: after 45 years of the Southern strategy, this stuff is what defines the party’s soul.