Gaffes or Glimpses

To borrow from, and hopefully expand on, an idea floated by LZ Granderson, at what point do gaffes become glimpses into how a person really feels, or what they really believe?  Yes, what Mitt Romney said about the 47% (more on that coming) was inarticulate, but did he offer a glimpse into how he really feels about a significant segment of our population?

“There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax.”  Mitt Romney

Now, if he had just stopped after the first sentence, I think there is nothing to report there.  He’s basically right.  There is a certain percentage of the population who has already made up their mind that they are voting for President Obama in November; likewise, there is also a certain percentage that are firmly going to vote for Mitt Romney.  He could have made his point with the first sentence.  No gaffe, no glimpse.  Just facts, even if the percentages might be different (I do not reasonably expect that he would have nailed the exact number there).  But then, he continued on, and offered a glimpse into what he believes.  He believes that if you receive any type of government assistance, you take no responsibility for your life; you do not want to improve your situation.  He almost lumps himself in with that same group, with his “these are people who pay no income tax” line.  Since income tax is exactly what the name implies, a tax on earnings from income (such as work), Mitt Romney technically does not pay income tax (and no, I really do not care if he releases his tax returns or not).  What Mr. Romney pays in taxes on his substantial wealth is capital gains tax.  A slight difference, but a difference.  Does that mean that Mitt Romney is voting for President Obama?  He is technically part of the 47% he referenced.

Now, I will admit that Mr. Romney has made some gaffes during his campaign.  Gaffes are inevitable.

“Middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less.” From an interview with ABC.
$10,000 bet?” From a debate during the Republican primaries.

Maybe he is not aware that the middle class income is slightly lower than his estimate.  Maybe he was trying to refer to a proposed tax plan and just messed up in what he was saying.  I get that.
On his bet, maybe he just flubbed in a moment of panic.  Again, most people cannot afford to place a $10,000 bet on anything, so maybe he just tripped over a number.

Or did he trip up at all?  Does he really think the middle class makes that much?  If so, I am underpaid.  Does he really think most people can afford a $10,000 bet?  Maybe he really does.  If he does, he shows a complete lack of understanding of what it means to live paycheck-to-paycheck.

Now, in full disclosure, I am part of the group he states is firmly set in their choice of who they are voting for. (And contrary to what another friend of mine claimed, I am not a socialist, communist, or anything else.  My views are complex, and I own them.)  But, and this may come as news to Mitt Romney, my family and I are not on any type of government assistance.  We are blessed to be a fully employed household, and yes, we are better off today than we were four years ago.  While we are not on direct government assistance (welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 housing), we have benefitted from the government in other ways.  Like regulation of the mortgage industry, and from infrastructure development and maintenance.

Mitt Romney is not a bad person, but I have seen enough glimpses into his true beliefs to know that he is not my choice for President.  People (not corporations, because they are not people) will vote in November how they feel led to vote, and I will respectfully debate my friend mentioned above until then, because I believe that he and I have had a productive discussion.  What we should not do over the course of the next 48 days is lose our civility and our respect for an opposing view.  We are all shaped by different experiences.



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