Mitch Daniels knows why Mitt Romney lost
On Friday, Mitch Daniels offered his explanation for why Mitt Romney lost the election.
“Governor Romney memorably discussed the 47% of Americans who, he said, are dependent on government and therefore would never vote for him.”
The comments he’s referring to, of course, are these:
A growing near-majority of citizens is now dependent on government for a substantial percentage of their livelihood. Increasingly, the burdens of a growing public sector are paid for by a dwindling percentage of the population. It is now reaching the point where society’s ability to generate new wealth is being threatened and the non-payers have nothing to lose by demanding still more from their richer neighbors.
Oh, wait. I’m sorry, that’s actually from page 5 of Mitch Daniels’ 2011 book, Keeping the Republic.
The actual Romney comments Mitch is talking about went like this:
All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.
So what does Daniels have against Mitt’s infamous 47% speech? Is it the fact that those comments were not based in reality?
Not exactly. Daniels thinks Romney “was right about the origin of his problem but wrong about its essence. Without doubt, we have a significant number of Americans for whom dependence and something for nothing have become a way of life. But they were far from 47% in number,”
Please proceed, Governor…
“And would have voted for the incumbent President under any circumstances.”
Let’s go back to the record and see what Mitt Romney said, shall we? Let’s pick up right after, “And the government should give it to them.”
And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. [emphasis added]
So Mitch Daniels is in almost-complete agreement with Mitt Romney. The only quibble he has is that Mitt’s percentages aren’t quite rounded off correctly.
“I believe that the self-inflicted fatal blow of Mr. Romney’s statement came among Americans who find themselves in receipt of some form of government transfer, but reject or even despise the notion that they are permanent parasites for doing so.”
Well, yes, and for good reason.
“Think of people on Social Security earned through a lifetime of honest toil; of men thrown out of work by a reeling, mismanaged economy and desperately trying to find new employment while on unemployment insurance; of young families, including active duty military personnel, working hard but still accepting food stamps which, for the moment, they legitimately need to provide adequately for their families.”
I have thought of them. They’re called family and friends and neighbors. In fact, I was thinking of them when Mitch Daniels called Social Security a Ponzi scheme – well actually, that Social Security is “enough to give Mr. Ponzi a bad name – or a legitimate job.” I was also thinking of them when Mitch Daniels slashed unemployment benefits.
“[M]illions of Americans thought they heard Mr. Romney label them as parasites on society, and said not ‘Yes, and I deserve it’ but ‘Hell, no, that’s not me.’ Whatever he intended, the candidate deeply offended countless citizens.”
The Obamacare provisions for hearing must have kicked in early, because millions of Americans don’t seem to have any trouble with their ears. I mean, how dare they listen to the words Mitt Romney spoke, and then make up their minds based on that message: I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Daniels closed by summing up the problem: Romney was just too clumsy with the words he chose to describe exactly how many moochers there are, and the mechanism by which the parasites are stealing our precious bodily fluids.
“A chronic disease of the Republican Party is the insistence on speaking in abstractions, or worse yet in language that offers no clue, no argument that the principles of liberty are far better for people at the bottom than the statist alternatives. And in language that entirely overlooks and omits the most powerful appeal available: ‘We believe in you, and your ability to decide for yourself, and they don’t.'”
Somewhere in that half-digested puddle of Frank Luntz-tested talking points and the tattered remains of an index to The Road to Serfdom, Mitch Daniels thinks he is laying the groundwork for a Republican comeback. You see, Mitt Romney saying that 47% of Americans “are dependent upon government” is “speaking in abstractions” – Mitt should have borrowed Daniels’ phrasing and said, “A growing near-majority of citizens is now dependent on government,” or “[A] significant number of Americans for whom dependence and something for nothing have become a way of life.”
Isn’t that better? I mean, how could voters think that Republicans were labeling them parasites on society when you swap in Mitch Daniels’ expert diction?