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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Presents Perfect

Mitt Romney has caught substantial flak lately for comments made on a conference call to supporters.  During this chat, he blamed his recent electoral drubbing in part on "gifts" that President Obama had offered to such traditional Democratic supporters as African-Americans, Hispanics, and younger voters.  These comments were greeted with the predictable howls of outrage.

(DIGRESSION: Unbeknownst to Romney, a New York Times reporter had been invited by one of the conference-call participants to listen in on the conversation.  You would think Mittens would have learned by now never to say anything controversial during "supporters-only" affairs.  Indeed, for all our sakes, maybe he could just stop saying anything.  Ever.  EOD)

Lost amidst all the indignation is an important point: Romney is absolutely right.  President Obama DID win re-election largely because he shamelessly bestowed "gifts" upon the aforementioned constituencies.  What kind of gifts?  Well, a reliable liberal such as myself would say these "gifts" were such things as forgiveness of college loans, ensured access to contraception, and, of course, healthcare reform.  But of course, these are just liberal talking points; I'm sure Romney was referring to more obvious pandering on the part of the President.  So let's see what he meant by "gifts":

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said.

Hm.  OK.  Go on.

“Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people."

Sigh.  OK, I get the point.  I-- What's that?

"You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge.”

Yeah, I mean, dangle shiny healthcare in front of a bunch of poor folks--how could Mitt have competed with that?!?  In retrospect, his counter-offer--REVOCATION of said healthcare--may not have been the game-changer he had been counting on.  Look, Mitt, it's one thing to get mad at President Obama for playing Santa Claus, but nobody told you that you had to play the Grinch!

So, what Mitt Romney considers "gifts" are things that most people--apparently including Mitt Romney--would consider policy initiatives, initiatives that any politician would pursue to satisfy his constituents.  Only a churl would point out that Romney intended to bestow similar gifts--tax breaks, deregulation--upon HIS supporters if HE had won. 

In other words, in making these comments, Mitt Romney is guilty of nothing more sinister than a firm grasp of of electoral politics.  If only he had a better grasp of math.  He might then realize that the sheer number of people who appreciate Obama's gifts is substantially larger than that of the gazillionaires who would have appreciated Romney's.

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