Noah Millman comments:
Nobody inclined to vote Republican thinks Romney is talking about white retirees or families of six making $50k/year when he talks about people who won’t “take responsibility” for their lives.
It’s possible that very few Republican voters will think he’s talking about these people, but he was talking about and disparaging them along with quite a few others. This interpretation doesn’t give these voters quite enough credit. It’s one thing for people not to know much about the details of the federal budget, and it is something else entirely to hear from a pro-bailout corporatist such as Romney that non-payment of income tax makes people irresponsible government dependents. I assume that the vast majority of Americans knows how much they are paying in income tax and other taxes, and the people who don’t pay income tax know whether they think of themselves as victims or not. I’m guessing they don’t think they are. There aren’t any people who fall into this category who say, “Yes, Romney has a point–I do think of myself as a victim!” Republican leaders have stoked anti-elite resentment for decades, so it’s a little hard to believe that Romney’s comments won’t justifiably trigger some of that resentment from his own likely voters.
Even if Republican-leaning voters don’t believe that Romney is talking about many of his own supporters, some of them will still find the arrogance and contempt in these statements to be extremely off-putting. The implication of what Romney was saying is that more people need to be paying income tax, but there is almost no constituency for this idea. He has gone on to say, “I think people would like to be paying taxes.” This is beyond Mondale-esque in its political stupidity. We may be surprised by just how many Republican-leaning voters are disgusted by all of this.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the millions of Republican voters Romney insulted with those remarks don’t believe he was talking about them. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be quite a few otherwise Republican-leaning voters who will recoil from Romney’s contempt for almost half of the population. Even if they don’t realize how many of his own supporters Romney insulted, Republican-leaning voters that were already suspicious of Romney because of his background and wealth now have another reason to distrust and dislike him. It’s not as if Romney inspires trust or goodwill to start with. Here we have yet another episode in which Romney has said something that demonstrates either his near-total separation from the way most Americans live, his willingness to say anything if it is politically expedient, or both.