Romney's "explanation" last night was awfully lame and half-hearted (and awfully short!), and I have to say I'm finding it kind of incredible that the pundits and bloggers and tweeters I'm reading from the right basically want him to double down. I'm not just flummoxed by this politically. What kind of person wants someone to repeat and drive home the point that 47 percent of the country doesn't "take personal responsibility and care for their lives?"
I saw that Lawrence O'Donnell said last night that this is the worst thing a presidential candidate has ever said. Okay, we don't know every word that came out of Martin van Buren's mouth. But limiting matters to the television age, I agree. We've never had a candidate embrace straight-up Randianism like this, just telling half the people he'd allegedly represent as president to piss off.
And the way he said it. As I watched it again last night, after I wrote the column that appears below this post, I became more convinced that he really, really meant it. Listen to the way he says "en-TITLED." To housing! Food! You name it!
I know a lot of you will defend this for political reasons, but honestly, if you really truly think that, if you really think that half the country, everyone who votes for Obama, sits around waiting for the government to do everything for them, that the great majority of these people, indeed almost all of them, aren't out there working hard, raising kids, teaching them good values, saving what they can, being decent people and good Americans and trying their best, you are warped with hatred and selfishness.
That it's the worst thing ever said, which I mean substantively, doesn't necessarily mean that it'll be completely devastating politically. As I wrote below, I think it will hurt him. Hard to say how much. The challenge to the Democrats and Obama is to frame their response in just the right and most resonant way.
I'll leave that to them. I'll just say that while we live in a divided country full of people with rage and resentment, I honestly don't think they're a majority, or even that close to a majority, and most Americans, whose instincts are more decent than that, will be put off by these remarks.