Rich Uncle Pennybags is his name. No, I don’t mean Mitt Romney. I’m talking about Mr. Monopoly, the mascot of the wheelers-and-dealers game, complete with spats, top hat and monocle. That’s the image that immediately came to mind watching Mitt Romney speak to prospective donors in the leaked video seen ’round the world.
His message: They own all the property on the board — and you don’t.
The class warfare charge is usually lobbed at Democrats by Republicans imagining socialist revolt. There’s no danger of that, though. As Warren Buffett once said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” However, not content to have affluence and comfort on their side, the crowd at the fundraiser, led by cheerleader Romney, must claim goodness, too. And, as opposed to his awkwardness in public, he seemed quite relaxed in the privacy of like minds. They are rich, not because of tax breaks or inheritance or luck, but because they are better people.
Romney, in his post-video press conference, said his remarks were about political reality. But behind closed doors, he didn’t stop at cold calculation — numerically dividing the electorate between Romney voters and Obama voters - he continued with cold contempt, demonizing those without the smarts to vote for him, the 47 percent of Americans, “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 health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”
Putting aside the shocking belief that a poor child isn’t entitled to food someone hasn’t earned, much of what Romney said is, of course, fantasy. Reporters and fact-checkers have blown holes through his characterization of close to half of the nation as “freeloaders,” as he has said, wanting “free stuff.”
Most people pay all kinds of taxes - payroll, sales, Medicare, Social Security and more. A lot of those who don’t earn enough to pay income tax are plenty hard-working in the kinds of dirty jobs that a guy like Romney depends on but fails to notice — like the waiters in the video, filling water glasses while their “betters” complain.
You’d think Romney had not seen any of those TV reports about Americans working two and three jobs, standing on lines for hours when a position is advertised or sending out hundreds of resumes, not giving up. Romney has said, though, that he, the son of a business executive and former governor “inherited nothing,” not privilege or good fortune.
Despite the damning video, the country is so polarized that many of those in the 47 percent, Romney supporters included, won’t consider themselves one of the insulted because the frame fits a theme that hordes of undeserved want to prey on the virtuous. In the same way, Obama supporters who are top earners and pay a chunk in taxes could find more common cause with the poor because the alternative — a country divided into deserving have’s and lazy have-not’s - doesn’t resemble an America they know or desire. In the meantime, the candidate obsessed with taxes still refuses to release all but two years of his own returns.
Why does Romney want to be president of the United States when he so clearly disdains so many of the people who live here? That’s a question he has to answer.
But now that the video is in the open, we can expect to hear him rinse, repeat and signal to his base that we are definitely not all in this together.
One thing he won’t do is apologize. No matter how insulting the comment, he will never apologize. Romney said his “job is to not worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
If Romney had Mr. Monopoly's thick white mustache, I can imagine him twirling it.
Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte-based journalist, is a contributor to The Washington Post's “She the People” blog, The Root and theGrio. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 a.m. on Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter