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Turning Point in the Elections

Sep. 25, 2012
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The biggest challenge for Wisconsin Democrats will be to avoid getting overly confident as multiple polls show President Barack Obama and U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin pulling away from their Republican opponents in the state.

Still, with a line stretching from the south end of the Summerfest grounds past the Milwaukee Art Museum and winding north along Lake Michigan to see President Obama at the top of his game, the gleeful optimism was impossible to hide.

Much has been written about Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s unbelievably dumb remarks in a private meeting with millionaire donors, in which he dismissed as parasites and freeloaders 47% of the nation who don’t pay any taxes while receiving some form of government benefits.

It was incredibly offensive to low-income seniors on Social Security and Medicare, troops fighting in combat zones, wounded veterans receiving medical benefits, workers unemployed through no fault of their own and many other Americans who don’t consider themselves bums.

In a Republican campaign based on numerous intentional lies well documented by fact-checkers, the turning point that finally sinks Republicans could be something Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, actually believe.

In that private meeting, Romney described those who receive any government benefits as people who feel they’re victims “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Imagine that. Just because they live in the richest nation on Earth, some Americans actually believe they have a right to eat, to have a roof over their heads and to receive health care when they get sick.

Ryan, Romney’s running mate, has targeted for destruction and radical overhaul Medicare and Social Security—two government programs protecting bare-minimum necessities for the elderly when they grow too old to work.

Like Romney, Ryan believes government programs don’t create a safety net, but rather a hammock where low-income people loll about in luxurious comfort, sapped of all initiative and responsibility.

Seriously, why would anyone want to be president of a country that would deny half its population something to eat, minimal shelter and basic health care?


The Real Romney

His comments reveal a shockingly callous attitude, but they may be the most honest words Romney has spoken during the campaign.

Like many who have only known privilege, Romney considers wealth a character issue. Having lots of money proves you deserve it. There’s something wrong with people who are poor. They must just be too lazy to earn millions.

In Mitt’s world, those who don’t pay taxes because they don’t make enough money are losers. Those who don’t pay taxes because they cleverly hide money in Swiss bank accounts and the Cayman Islands are smart businessmen.

To anyone so far removed from reality as to envision carefree, poor people idling on hammocks, know this: The lives of the rich are much cushier than the precarious lives of the poor. Many poor people work harder, too.

That’s what made a racial joke Romney cracked to all those chortling millionaires and billionaires even more offensive. Romney recalled his father was born in Mexico. (He didn’t mention it was because his Mormon family fled this country to be free to practice polygamy.)

“Had he (Mitt’s father George) been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this,” Romney quipped.

Among white millionaires, that passes for humor. You know, how affirmative action hands everything to African Americans and Mexicans on a silver platter.

Can even Romney seriously believe that someone with his embarrassing lack of people skills and propensity to make arrogant statements would be the presidential nominee of the Republican Party if he weren’t a white man worth a quarter of a billion dollars?

The bungling Romney/Ryan campaign has prompted even staunch right-wing publisher Bill Kristol and Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan to call it “stupid and arrogant” and “incompetent.”

In Wisconsin, Republican Tommy Thompson blames Romney’s disastrous campaign for the fact he’s now trailing Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin in the race for the U.S. Senate.

“Whether you're a Democrat or Republican,” Thompson says, “if your standard-bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it's gonna reflect on the down-ballot."

Thompson is a fading politician who somehow made a private fortune, disclosed only as $13.1 million to $44 million, after his years in government. Baldwin is a dynamic, fresh face in statewide politics. Karl Rove’s dishonest ads may not derail Baldwin’s continuing surge.

The problem for Republicans isn’t how poorly Romney and Ryan are selling their ideas. It’s how offensive those ideas are.

Ordinary Americans don’t believe the only purpose of government is to give millions more in tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires and allow everyone else to fend for themselves.

Democrats can’t relax, but their path to victory is clear. They just have to keep informing voters of Romney’s and Ryan’s true intentions and then work day and night to get those voters to the polls.


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