The PJ Tatler

How Mitt Romney Should Handle the '47%' Remark

It’s instructive watching the difference in reactions to Romney’s remarks on dependence between what I’ll call elite Republicans and the rest of us. Among the elites, the remark is a huge and costly gaffe. Mark McKinnon, who wasn’t even a Republican before George W. Bush and who spends his time criticizing Republicans for the mainstream press now, thinks the comment is very costly. Jonah Goldberg finds it infuriating. Bill Kristol is in a panic, calling the remark “stupid.” David Brooks is also worrying his little fingers to the bone, comparing Romney to Thurston Howell III.

Talk about your dated analogies.

I won’t let the moment pass to note that Brooks is about as representative of the broader electorate and especially the GOP base as McKinnon is. Brooks is the fool who allowed that Barack Obama’s pants crease persuaded him that the then backbench senator would make a good president. Good laundry = good leadership! Brooks depends on the liberals who run the New York Times for his daily bread. Goldberg’s and Kristol’s criticisms should carry more weight with conservatives, but I think even they miss the opportunity here.

From out here more than a thousand miles outside the Beltway, Romney’s comment strikes me as perfectly defensible. I live in Texas, a state that intentionally keeps its welfare safety net small to reduce the burden on taxpayers and keep the state’s economy among the most productive in the country. Free enterprise leads to more jobs leads to a better life for everyone. Keep government predictable and as out of the way as possible. That’s how we see things out here.

The exposure of Romney’s comments provides an opportunity to air a few facts.

Fact: Under Barack Obama’s stewardship, we’re stuck above 8% unemployment nationally. Millions of Americans who would never under any other circumstances seek government benefits, now have to just to keep what they have worked for all their lives. Millions have given up looking for work at all, and millions more are underemployed. Government overtaxes and underserves the American citizen at every level, but Obama’s priority continues to include siding with government unions and demagoguing America’s top earners. The moribund economy is a consequence of this president’s behavior.

Fact: Under Obama’s stewardship, regulations have driven energy prices higher, and that has contributed to the slowed economy.

Fact: Driving energy prices higher was and continues to be part of Barack Obama’s strategy, and it is killing jobs.

Fact: Under Obama’s stewardship, the federal government has worked to increase dependency rather than salute success. Democrats depend on unsustainable spending, which will bankrupt the country, to keep their party politically viable.

Fact: Under Obama’s stewardship, the government brought in a sweeping health care law that is demonstrably killing jobs right at the source, small business.

Fact: Obama has no plan to fix or undo any of the damage he has done to the economy, and has no background that suggests he even understands what the problems are. All he has is “Forward,” a slogan as empty as his promises to go through the budget line by line and cut wasteful spending, and as empty as his promise to cut the deficit in half by now. We have had no budget in nearly four years under this president, and the deficit has exploded.

So when he appears on Cavuto’s show this afternoon, Romney should revise and extend his comments to hammer away at the Obama record of hostility to free enterprise, and the consequences that hostility has imposed on the hard-working, free-enterprise-supporting American public. “You didn’t build that!” and “Government is the only thing we all belong to” should get prominent replays.