Gabriel Malor offers a different interpretation of Romney’s recent blunders:
As a result of these recent “gaffes,” freeloaders may not like Romney. Peaceniks may not like Romney. Wonks who think that ambiguity is a reasonable foreign policy strategy may not like Romney. But how many freeloaders, peaceniks or foreign policy wafflers were really going to vote for Romney, anyway? None of these groups are part of the traditional Republican constituency. None of these groups are large enough to sway the election.
Does “foreign policy waffler” refer to someone who points out that Romney doesn’t understand what a dirty bomb is, or would it refer instead to someone observing that Romney doesn’t seem to understand his own “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program? According to the remarks in the leaked video, Romney subscribes to the view that Iran is governed by “crazy people,” which is part of a discredited idea that the Iranian regime is fanatically suicidal. The problem for Romney here isn’t just that his policy views are needlessly aggressive, though they are, but that they are founded on a misunderstanding of the relevant facts. Regardless of their policy views, most Americans are unlikely to want to support a candidate who seems to be ignorant.
The same could be said for his 47% comments. Romney might have thought he was referring to “freeloaders” when he talked about 47% of the population, but he ignored the taxes that the vast majority of them pay, so even on this point he would have been mistaken. He managed to confuse a number of different groups of people, insult all of them as personally irresponsible, and demonstrate that he doesn’t even properly understand the conservative view of taxation. Many Romney defenders seem to think that the candidate has advanced the debate over dependency on government with his remarks on the 47%, but as Tim Carney points out these comments just show how little Romney understands:
Think about Romney’s perverse logic here: He disparaged people as “dependent” for not owing income taxes. Many of these people are retired and living off the life savings they earned. A family of four earning $40,000 could owe zero federal income tax even without tax credits.
Keeping your own money isn’t being “dependent on government.” Sure, Obama speaks as if it were, lambasting the GOP for “giving” tax cuts to the wrong people. But Republicans are supposed to distinguish between government giving you something and government leaving you alone [bold mine-DL].
The point is that Romney wasn’t talking about “freeloaders” when he referred to the 47% who don’t pay income tax. He was disparaging working taxpayers as people he cannot convince to take “personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Quite a few of those taxpayers are Republican voters, whether they understand that Romney was referring to them or not. The implication of Romney’s remarks is that he thinks these people should be paying more in taxes, which is a position that most Americans would rightly reject.
Update: Romney may have finally figured out what his “red line” on Iran is supposed to be. At least until the next time he’s asked about it.