Oh, Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney. You know how you can tell that you’ve really stepped in it? A tiny hint of evidence that your problems go well past not being “elegantly stated”?
One big hint would be when Conservative Icon William Kristol calls your comments “stupid and arrogant.” Another might be when the terminally equitable David Brooks suggests you don’t have a clue about the country you want to lead:
…as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.
All we need now is for the Ghost of David Broder to appear and say “While it is of course important to consider all sides of the question, Mitt Romney has truly screwed the pooch this time.”
Let us just savor a few of the better moments in Mr. Brooks’ dissection of the Romney campaign’s still-twitching corpse:
- “Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers.”
- “This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?”
- “It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth.”
- “It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture. Americans haven’t become childlike worshipers of big government. On the contrary, trust in government has declined.”
- “Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact…The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers.”
- “The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency.
But, of course, no middle-class parent acts as if this is true. Middle-class parents don’t deprive their children of benefits so they can learn to struggle on their own.”
That last is very good to know. We had been considering telling Kid Zoom that we would no longer foster a culture of dependency by paying for or driving him to his after-school tennis lessons, but Mr. Brooks has set us straight on that one. You dodged a bullet this time, kiddo.
By the end of the column, of course, Brooks does revert somewhat to his usual irritatingly bipartisan tone. He personally thinks Romney is “a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not.” And even as he damns Romney’s “depressingly inept presidential campaign,” he insists that Romney’s “entitlement reform ideas are essential” — a notion undermined by virtually everything preceding that attempt at conciliation in the final paragraph.
Having thoroughly chewed Romney up, Brooks is just too habitually “nice” to finally spit him out.