Updated at 7:30 am on Feb. 7
Mitt Romney made a Big Boo Boo the other day when he said he wasn’t concerned about poor people.
I don’t really think the statement was taken out of context, as some insist. I realize he was trying to say he truly loves the middle class. But there are certain people who just are physically unable of uttering such things about the poor, regardless of what sentences follow it.
I’m sure Mitt Romney cares about poor people. But maybe not as much as he should.
Mitt can’t change Mitt. But if he wants to win the election, what he has to do is ask himself a profound, searching and crucial question:
“Why am I talking about poor people in the first place?”
Obama has set a trap for Romney, and Romney has cluelessly walked directly into it. He’s even taken up happy residence there, wallowing in the political cage Obama has ensnared him in. It’s the prison of class warfare.
Obama can’t really run on his record, so he’s campaigning on notions of “fairness” and the travails inflicted on lower income people by rich bastards – like Romney, for instance.
If the election is about poor or even middle class people losing out, about the oppression of the Proletariat, then everyone knows the community organizer wins it.
A Republican who wants to beat Obama needs to run a campaign without reference to class. He must pit Obama’s divided society against a message of unity. Fairness must be cast not as equality of result, but equality of opportunity.
Conservatism, which Romney pretends to understand, is about raising everyone’s standard of living. It’s not about targeting this group or that for goodies or punishments.
Obama tirelessly intones that the rich must “do their fair share.” This, of course, is a euphemism for redistributionism. Romney should be saying he likes rich people so much, he wants everyone to be one.
He could present himself as above Obama’s class warfare tactics. But instilled with guilt, as liberal Republicans are wont to be, he feels he must answer and explain, to suggest he’ll make welfare programs stronger, and so forth.
It’s much harder not to talk about the wonder of safety nets, because people might think that just because you’re not signed up for a vast welfare state, that you don’t care. You have to really believe in conservative principles to take the heat.
And that’s exactly why conservatives have been so unsure about Mitt. He’ll fight the Democrats, but playing their game.
As long as Romney is talking class, he’s playing Obama’s game. It’s not a sport Romney knows how to play, and it’s not one he needs to play.
And not one he’ll win.