Mitt The Heartless: A Kinsleyan Gaffe

Lunchtime thoughts:

Fresh off his smashing victory in the Florida primary, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney committed the most delicious of gaffes.

To borrow a construct from Michael Kinsley, Romney told the truth. In the process, he wandered into dangerous territory.

In an interview this morning with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, Romney said:

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair , I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich…. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

Romney said exactly what most politicians quietly practice. Hardly anyone, including Democrats, talks about the poor anymore. But you can’t get caught actually acknowledging it because you’re opponents will use you for batting practice.

The interview is prompting howls of outrage from the usual suspects. I can see Axelrod and Plouffe putting together commercials as I write this and splicing together some of Mitt’s juicier comments (“corporations are people” and now, “I don’t care about the poor”).

But I would ask you this: When’s the last time you heard any presidential candidate talk about the poor? I think that would be John “Two-Americas” Edwards, the eventual 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee who turned out to be one of the most despicable phonies on the planet.

The simple truth is that few politicians talk about the poor because the poor rarely show up on election day. The middle class is where all the votes are. But Romney will be punished for stating what should never be said in polite company.

 

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