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February 03, 2012

Mitt Romney: Work In Progress

When Romney made his "poor" comments, the blowback from conservatives was immediate and severe. For some it may have been a "you can't say that" reaction to the politics of it, but for others it was much deeper.

Ace's first post downplayed it, but he mentioned that Slublog, Drew and I had a different view. Later on, the WSJ (may be paywalled), Krauthammer, Erick Erickson and, hell, even James Carville identified the real problem with the comment, and all of these were along the lines of the points we were making.

But the best distillation I've seen of the depth of Romney's gaffe comes from Jim Pethokoukis this morning in a blog post entitled Mitt Romney, Meet Jack Kemp.

Jack Kemp believed in the wonder-working power of entrepreneurial capitalism to make all Americans more prosperous and more capable of achieving their dreams. I cannot imagine Kemp talking about “the poor” the way Mitt Romney did the other day.

Jimmy P. goes on to quote Kemp at length, but here's an excerpt:

In my opinion, people of all colors and income levels don’t hate the rich. They want to get rich. They’re more interested in generating wealth than they are in redistributing wealth. They want to own property, educate their children and build a nest egg that can be passed on to their heirs. Unfortunately, some aren’t able to access the same ladder of opportunity that is so readily available to the majority. . . .

Kemp's view can be expressed shorthand as "the American Dream."

Romney's comment went to the core of the difference between what I believe as a conservative and what the class warrior in chief in the White House believes, and Romney wound up in the wrong camp.

Conservatives don't oppose the panoply of government welfare programs (euphemistically called a "safety net"), teachers' unions and big government in isolation or just because, hey, the Democrats are for all this stuff so we must be against it.

We believe that dependency on government programs robs free people of their human dignity. We believe that teachers unions work in opposition to quality education (see Waiting for "Superman"), and we believe that big government, in addition to being unmoored from the Constitution, saps the economic engine that benefits all Americans, rich and poor alike.

We also believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.

Ben Domenech (accurately IMO) theorizes that the instant gaffe was Romney's clumsy attempt to stay "on message", but for whatever reason, Mitt Romney simply cannot articulate the core philosophical differences between our side and the left holistically or well.

Electable? Don't bet on it.

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posted by Andy at 08:33 AM

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