Perhaps the most devastating blow to Mitt Romney regarding his remarks saying that 47% of Americans think they are victims and are dependent on government was dealt by centrist-conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks. Here's the meat of it:
"[He] suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare? It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America."
Brooks' final punch-line is particularly effective: "Personally, I think [Romney]’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater."
I agree that Romney simply has not convinced voters that he believes what he says. That's a huge, huge contrast with President Obama. Standing by what you believe is something that resonates with Americans far more effectively than someone who tries to please everyone. Blame it on a poorly run campaign -- or a well-run campaign, via the Democrats. But the uncomfortable fact facing the Republicans right now is that not one president in our nation's history won by switching positions as much as Romney.
What Brooks doesn't get to is the bigger, more uncomfortable reality that Romney's comments touch upon: Americans like government, but don't like paying for it.
This is the defining question of the election. Which party, and their candidates, will tell Americans that they can no longer have their cake and eat it too? This narrative paradox is what's bringing about the partisan clashes, and ultimately why there's a failure of leadership, from Congress to state capitals. Americans keep electing politicians that encourage this "cake mentality," and it's driving us off the fiscal cliff.
"Is Obama better than Romney in discouraging cake mentality? No exactly: he's ignored the hard truths of Bowles-Simpson, and his only talk of new revenue streams -- raising income tax rates on millionaires -- is unoriginal and way too partisan."
But at least we know where Obama stands. He defends government and the benefit it gives to millions of Americans (more than 47%), and as seen in his ACA plan, actually has a track record of saying how he'll pay for it. In contrast, Romney's tax and economic plans not only debilitate government by cutting funding, but are empty of credible details of how they'll make up the difference.
Even if you disagree with me about Obama or the size of government, we can agree on this: we can't operate on cake mentality any longer. We either have to cut the services we like, and learn to live without things like Medicare, farm subsidies, and social security, or decide that these services are worth paying for, with the help of new tax revenues.
A President Romney, by making these 47% comments, will encourage this mentality for four more years. President Obama, for all his faults, still symbolizes a move away from this mentality. Even if it's only a few footsteps, choosing Obama over Romney will mean that Americans are starting to see the importance of paying for their cake.