Poor people just want a hand up,
not a hand out.
Conservative pundits are very stressed right now, fretting about how to position themselves on Mitt Romney's comments at a May fundraiser in Florida. In a just released video, recorded by a hidden camera, the Republican presidential candidate is seen wringing his hands, convinced that almost half the country is belligerently dependent on the government.
His supporters don't know how to spin it. Not because they disagree with what Romney said, but because they're afraid he won't get elected and put his ideas into action.
Some think he got the numbers wrong.
Okay...so if it's not 47%, what's the right number? It doesn't matter. It wouldn't matter if he said 37%, or 27%. He mis-characterized the group of people he's talking about. Who cares if he got the head count wrong?
Some think he sounded mean and stupid.
That he could have found a more graceful way to phrase it. But it's the idea, that liberals want people to stay dependent, that is mean and stupid. It's the idea that people receiving public assistance are happy with their lives, and want to reelect this President so he can keep their checks coming in while they do nothing, that is mean and stupid. It's better that he said it in such an ugly way. It's ugly.
Some think he didn't really mean it.
Mitt Romney doesn't really mean this? "... there are 47 percent who are with (Obama), 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 healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it."
If Mitt Romney doesn't mean that, it's only because he doesn't "mean" anything. It's because he doesn't think deeply about anything, and doesn't care much about who we are in this country. That's the only way that excuse works; if he didn't mean what he said in that videotape, it's not because he means something more hopeful, caring, and respectful of his fellow citizens.
The best Republican response is from the irrepressible Grover Norquist.
Not surprisingly, he's in the I-like-what-Romney-said-just-not-how-he-said-it camp. He merely wants the campaign to get their wording right. He was relieved to talk to an operative who assured him they had sorted out their responding rhetoric. "I went up to the campaign and I said, What’s your take on this? And I got back the perfect answer: 'We’re working to provide opportunity, while the other team is trying to teach dependence.' And (Norquist chortles,) we win that fight in America. If this was Bulgaria in 1957, I’m not sure we’d win the debate. In the United States, we win that debate."
Thing is, though, the other team is not "trying to teach dependence." What we are trying to do is give people a hand up, not a.. well, you know the saying. We try to explain this over and over. And yet, here we are again. Now it's Communist Bulgaria.
- Believing that government must play a role in guaranteeing that people have food and shelter, when they otherwise wouldn't, is not teaching dependency.
- Believing the government should play a role in providing for its citizens' education, health care, and infrastructure, is not teaching dependency.
- Believing government can play a role in teaching illiterate adults to read, so they can get jobs and pay taxes and support their families - is not teaching dependency.
- Believing government can play a role in helping ex-convicts re-enter society - so they can get jobs and pay taxes and be self-supporting - is not teaching dependency.
- Believing government can provide job-training to low income youth - so they can get jobs and pay taxes and be self-supporting - is not teaching dependency.
- Believing government can contribute funds to agencies that teach budgeting, treat addiction, and counsel the homeless - so that more people can get jobs and pay taxes and be self-supporting is not teaching dependency.
These things have nothing to do with teaching dependency. Quite the opposite. To use Grover's words, we're working to provide opportunity.