“A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.”
That declaration, attributed to Irish dramatist and socialist George Bernard Shaw in 1944, has become a cliche because it is, in general, true.
But a version of it – that 47 percent of the electorate will vote for President Obama simply because they don’t pay any federal income tax – got Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney into major trouble this past week.
It should have. Romney, in a hastily called press conference, admitted that his rhetoric, answering a question at a fundraiser was “inelegant.” I’ll take that several steps further. It was stupid.
Romney is not stupid. He’s very smart. But smart people say stupid things sometimes. And it would be much better for him to admit as much, rather than try to deflect it with weasel words like “inelegant.” It’s the only way to start getting out of the hole he dug for himself.
With about a month and a half to go before the election, Romney handed Democrats yet another gift-wrapped distraction from the failures of the Obama administration. He handed them some more straw men – that he doesn’t think it worthwhile to try to connect with anyone on government support and that those on government support are all moochers and layabouts. All anybody is talking about is how he insulted almost half the country.
Sure, the timing of it is a bit curious. The fundraiser where Romney made those comments was in May. Only now, much closer to the election, is it coming to light, thanks to the efforts of Jimmy Carter’s semi-employed grandson.
But so what? That’s politics.
So, at least for the next week or so, Romney and his campaign will be “off message,” while both conservatives and liberals focus on the trees and ignore the forest.