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Romney Shows What's In His Mind

Editor, The Herald:

Following the release of the now infamous 47% video, in which Mitt Romney is heard dismissing nearly half the American public as government-dependent, self-deluded victims without personal responsibility or taxable income, the candidate's handlers were in disarray. They couldn't have the author of “No Apology” apologize, regardless of the millions of Americans he defamed. (Presumably a blunder is only a blunder if you apologize.) They instead are trying to spin this disaster into Mitt's serious attempt to address the very real problem of funding entitlements. America needs such a debate, but even a moment's reflection upon Romney's performance at that $50,000-a-person Boca Raton fundraiser reveals that it's not about entitlements, but derision and division.

Even as his running-mate alleges the President has sown class resentment and divided the country, we see Romney feed his privileged audience's prejudices with specific percentages of the population he believes are perennially on the government dole. This might only have been tacky, hypocritical, and opportunistic were it not also deceptive. The 47% to which he referred who paid no federal income tax includes retirees who paid that tax when they were working, and young people starting out at the low income end of their careers. Even the working poor who make up nearly two-thirds of the 47% often pay a hefty part of their income in federal payroll taxes toward Social Security and Medicare, as well as state income tax and taxes on purchases, property, gasoline, and so on. Also among the 47% are many laid off in a troubled economy, who want work, but can't find it. And what is Romney's take-away message on the federal income tax-that not enough people pay it? Is that the message Republicans want to carry into the election? And amid all this talk of other's taxes, will he not offer us more about his own, beyond the absolute minimum requirement?

At that same fundraiser, Mitt then stumbled into the fragile and complex arena of Middle East politics by observing, “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway.” And his vision of a nuanced American policy for the region? “All right, we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.” Is this leadership?

The video reveals an isolated aristocrat out of touch with reality, a man of unfounded prejudices, a candidate of big but muddled pronouncements on policy. Perhaps he is more rational when he communicates less off the cuff.

Consider his 21-page Energy Policy White Paper, in which he claims he could make North America energy independent by 2020 using our oil and coal. Keep in mind that oil and coal are commodities, and every barrel or ton extracted is owned by the corporations responsible for investing in its extraction, not by governments. Energy fuels are bought and sold on the international market. Even if we grant the magic math Mitt uses in over-estimating North America's oil reserves, and if industry drilled like crazy to get at them, the oil extracted would flow into an international market; if China wanted the oil and outbid us, China would get it. The only way his policy could be sure to achieve North America's energy independence would be to nationalize the energy industries, which would make free-market Mitt a world-class socialist.

Even when he has a chance to think things through, he apparently doesn't.

David Lewis