David Corn of Mother Jones published a leaked fundraiser video that shows Romney disparaging 47% of the country as “victims” that don’t take “personal responsibility and care for their lives,” which he claims to know because they don’t pay income tax. Scott Galupo comments on the video here. Josh Barro sums up the early consensus on the video’s political consequences:
This is an utter disaster for Romney.
It’s hard to argue that Barro is wrong. There is no way to spin these comments in Romney’s favor, just as there was no way to defend Romney’s blunders on the embassy and consulate attacks last week. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some desperate attempts to do so, but they won’t do any good. Much like the blunder last week, the argument Romney’s making in the video is nonsense and it is expressed in a way designed to alienate the largest number of people possible. Many of the people Romney was disparaging in this video are reliably Republican voters, and they have just been reminded that their party’s nominee has no respect for them. If “respect conservatism” exists, this is the opposite of it.
More than anything else, what makes this video damaging is that it confirms what most Americans already suspect about Romney: he holds at least half the country in contempt, including many of the people that normally vote Republican. It isn’t just that Romney expresses contempt and pity for “anyone who isn’t going to vote for him,” as Barro says. What makes this stand out as exceptionally arrogant is the fact that he clearly has contempt for many of the people who were likely to vote for him. This is another self-inflicted wound that comes from Romney’s willingness to say whatever his supporters want to hear regardless of the merits, and it’s another reminder why more Americans dislike Romney than like him. It remains to be seen how many will opt to sit out this election, but this could hardly have come at a worse time for a flailing, wounded campaign.