A candidate’s comments made behind closed doors when his guard was down, reveal much about him as a person, his way of thinking, what and who he cares about, and how all of this might impact how he would govern.
In these times, secret audio- and video-taping by a rival’s camp at fund-raising events outside the media’s coverage is not uncommon. In 2008, it was then-candidate Barack Obama who was recorded at a San Francisco event saying that people in the Midwest were suffering so much from economic challenges that they “cling to religion and guns.”
Those comments were exploited in much the same way that is happening now with Mitt Romney’s comments saying that 47% of Americans pay no federal income tax and they feel entitled to “health care, food, housing, to you-name-it.”
It is a debatable whether close to half of all Americans pay no income taxes. A number close to this figure would include low-paid workers, the unemployed, students and retirees. If you only take into account the number of people that pay payroll taxes, the percent not paying is much lower.
The problem, however, isn’t so much with the number as with the candidate’s arrogance and his dismissive attitude toward half of the country whom he says “believe they are victims” and “believe that the government should take care of them”.
This is a deeply disturbing perspective coming from a candidate who has made tax change a top priority and who wants to eliminate services included in health care reform because “nothing is for free,” as his campaign is prone to say.
This whole episode reveals a profound ignorance and hypocrisy on the part of Romney.
It is ignorant because he is clearly out of touch with the reality of the American middle-class, their needs and concerns. How else to explain that Romney really thinks that an income of $250,000 a year is middle class?
Hypocrisy because he complains about those individuals who feel entitled to government assistance while, at the same time, supporting the bank bailout, agricultural subsidies, and benefits the government gives away through regulation or lack thereof and tax policies.
It is episodes such as this, unplanned by the political campaigns, that help define a candidate. They are spontaneous moments and private situations that contribute to determining a presidential candidate’s appropriateness to serve in this moment in our country’s history.