Image credited to AP

Image credited to AP/Evan Vucci

Monday saw the illuminating leaks from presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in which he was caught on film detailing his campaign strategies to a room full of big, private donors. The controversy, however, manifested in just how detailed and candid this video proved to be.

Romney issued his thoughts on why he wouldn’t be able to win over President Obama’s base. He explained, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what… who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them.” He later concluded that those voters are virtually untouchable, in that they simply cannot be convinced to take “personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

In between confronting the hard truths of the campaign and insulting American voters, Mitt offered some comic relief to the crowd, revealing that sometimes awkward but striking humor insiders of his campaign so often boast about. Mitt joked, “My dad… was born in Mexico … and uh, had he been born of uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this. But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico… I mean, I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

The content of these leaks have certainly agitated this news cycle, but I don’t find it particularly shocking or even remotely enlightening.

I don’t think it’s far-fetched to say that many Americans have known for some time now that these are the kinds of things Romney really believes.

If we dive back into the primaries, we can recall those moments where Romney dismissed a supporter’s cookies on suspicion they were store-bought, asserted college students should look no further than their parents when seeking loans to start their new businesses, admitted he wasn’t concerned about the poor because they’re doing just fine these days. These “gaffes” were glimpses into Mitt Romney’s unedited perspective, merely marking moments throughout this election where he has felt comfortable and relaxed enough to let his true self shine.

What’s most fascinating about this video footage is the golden opportunity awarded to the viewer, to be able to sit in on one of the elite presentations given by a presidential nominee, to get a little more than just a glimpse.

We get to watch the video and feel as though we’re off somewhere, lounging on lush, antique seating while simultaneously sitting on millions of disposable income, asking Romney the tough questions and getting the uncensored, unrehearsed answers.

It’s fascinating to hear how relaxed he is with us, freely indulging our interests and notions about the electorate. We can talk like old friends, see the real Mitt who has loosened up enough to make a racially insensitive joke or two. This is the Mitt Romney the general public hears the campaign talk about but never sees — well, until now.

Much is unknown about the anonymous source of these videos, though the Romney campaign is surely scrambling to identify this individual.

But I only wonder why we, the electorate, can’t successfully infiltrate these high-brow, donor talks more often? And my only hope as it relates to these leaks is that we’ll get equally in-depth, uncut spycam footage on Obama, in the same class as his gross generalization of mid-western voters, clinging to their guns and their religion back in 2008. For what a novel idea it is to want to know what these candidates really think.

Advertisements

(Watch above as Mitt Romney explains the functionality of an individual mandate)

Video Credited to http://www.youtube.com/user/DemRapidResponse

A week after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act constitutional, the Republican party found itself buried beneath a disjointed war of words over whether the consequence for failing to pay for health care is defined as a penalty or a tax.

President Obama used the term “penalty’ in a 2010 sell to Congress and the country, insisting it was not a new tax.

However, Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts surprisingly ruled the ACA mandate as constitutional under the tax code.

In the wake of this decision, Justice Roberts has taken tremendous heat from some of those in the right wing who feel betrayed, while others have zoned in on this new language defined by the courts, coveting the new phrase “Obamatax.”

Republicans now feel free to run on the talking point that Obama has in fact raised taxes on the middle class which he said he would not do as president.

But just as Romney’s representatives geared up to spread the wonderful news of “another broken promise” by Barack Obama, they were confronted with the counterargument rooted in the very language of their own beloved candidate.

In a 2008 debate, Romney defended his own tax penalties, arguing, “If people can afford to buy it, either buy the insurance or pay your own way. Don’t be free riders and pass on the cost of your health care to everyone else,” explicitly mirroring Obama.

And so Romney campaign representatives were continuously confronted with the parallels they tried to brush aside; if the mandate is a tax under Obama, and he has indeed raised taxes on the middle class, the same can be said for Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.

Romney’s Campaign Advisor Eric Fehrnstrom botched his party’s argument against Obama in an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd.

Todd asked Fehrnstrom to clarify that Romney agrees with the president on the terms “penalty,” “fee,” or “fine”- not a tax- to which, Fehrnstrom replied, “That is correct.”

No doubt problems for Romney began at the court’s declaration of constitutionality, as his Plan A of attack banked on Obamacare’s unconstitutionality.

Romney admitted hours before the decision was made that if the courts ruled the law unconstitutional, it would signify the ultimate failure of President Obama’s landmark bill and was a complete waste of this country’s time, semi-side stepping the comparison to his own health care in Massachusetts,

That was supposed to be the plan.

But the SCOTUS ruling has left Romney with the inferior Plan B which hones in on the semantics of a tax, penalty, tax-penalty, what-have-you, whatever.

Unfortunately for Romney, Plan B is far more problematic, as it directly gives way to quotes in print and videotape of his same “penalty” distinction that Obama has made.

In fact, Romney not only agrees with the language of the President, he agrees with the ideology behind the mandate and the concept of personal responsibility.

True, Plan B invokes the powerful and emotional word, “tax,” that has an extremely negative impact on Americans at the mere mention of it. And the opportunity to tie such an emotional word to Obama has proved to be too great for Republicans to pass up, no matter how hypocritical, dangerous, disingenuous or biased they may sound.

This tangled web of words and partisan politics was foreshadowed by highly conservative Romney opponent, Rick Santorum, who back in the primary days, asserted that Mitt Romney would be the worst Republican period to go up against Obama on health care- an assertion that may very well be the most bipartisan conclusion ever reached by the Pennsylvania Senator.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pictured on the left, Mayor Tom Barrett on the right (Photo credited to the Grassroots Citizens of Wisconsin)

The recall election in Wisconsin not only brought with it a victory for Governor Scott Walker but also the fierce realization that democracy as we’ve known it is vanishing.

This disappearing act is accredited to the power of money, and not in the small $10-$50 donations a typical American might contribute to a campaign, or even a $1 million donation from some wealthy donor.

The demise of democracy will be traced back to the imperious Super PACs, of which billionaires accumulate millions of dollars to a particular candidate running for any office. And while a cool few million bucks to a billionaire feels like $10 to the average American, the danger in this is too great to ignore.

As we saw in Wisconsin, Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett was outspent by Governor Walker 8:1, running on a $4.2 million campaign compared to that of Walker’s- valued at $30 million and heavily bolstered by outside, Super PAC fundraising.

They say that money can’t buy you everything, but in the case of tens of millions of dollars, in light of the Wisconsin race, I beg to differ.

Most recently, Mitt Romney acquired a nice sum as well from casino giant Sheldon Adelson in the amount of $10 million. It is the largest quantity single-handedly gifted to the Romney campaign thus far. With donations like this, he is set to outspend President Obama in the present election, and with the bottomless pockets of Adelson and the like, who can say by how much.

We are moving closer to a time where the presidency will carry a hefty price tag, filled with commas to the point of sheer redundancy and far beyond any budget of the 99%.

It will be up to the few billionaires of this country to decide as to which candidate will best serve their interests first and foremost. After all, these are businessmen making an investment, and will of course expect a swift return.

Mitt Romney jeopardizes the way this country will see him come November. For voters will see him, not as he presents himself on stages or in internet ads, but as the representative of the quiet, secretive money that hangs over his head, only burdened further with the high expectations of heavily decreased regulation, disregard for the general public, and who knows what else.

Yes, it looks like we’ve begun to admit to a dying democracy, with those subscribed to the Super PAC institution are only too happy to see it go.

When President Obama took office, Republicans relentlessly offered their vocal concern that this country was headed for socialism. But it seems they were fighting for something new entirely, a little less like democracy and a little more like tyranny.

It’s no secret Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy struggles to decide on an approach of Mitt “The Everyday Man,” or Mitt “The Unapologetically Rich Elitist.” My advice is to be as authentic as possible. The “common man” approach will simply be foiled by these revealing and recurring stick-your-foot-in-your-mouth moments, sure to sabotage any positive strides his campaign may achieve.

His most recent gaffe took place in Pittsburgh where he was invited into the Bethel Park Community Center for a sit-down with prospective local Republican voters. The families and Romney sat at a picnic table where a plate of cookies – along with chips, pretzels and lemonade – awaited him. The first words out of his mouth were nothing less than an insult, eying the cookies suspiciously – dismissing them as store-bought and unfit to be eaten. But as a matter of fact, the cookies were purchased from a popular local bakery, not from “the local 7Eleven,” as he initially surmised.

Of course this isn’t about his preference for or against cookies, but rather a bookmark on a pattern that continues to develop as the election season matures. If you recall the early Republican primaries you’ll remember: off-the-cuff remarks referencing his great friends who’ve found their wealth in owning NASCAR teams; nonchalant bets worth $10,000 to prove his point to Rick Perry; admitted lack of concern for the poor – as they are satisfactorily supported by their country; and necessarily requiring a private elevator built soley for the transport of his luxury car into his luxury home, to name a few. Now there’s no need to run and hide, backtrack or clean up behind these telling remarks, not that Romney’s tried. This is Mitt, our prospective Commander-in-Chief, in a fight to become the governing hand over a people he barely comprehends.

As much as he may try to pander to those in the deep south at rallies, boasting of a hearty Southern breakfast of eggs, biscuits and grits, or recruiting his son’s Spanish-speaking skills in vying for Hispanic support, he’s not the “Average American,” as there is nothing average or everyday about him. What he’ll fail to mention is he had that Good ‘Ol Southern breakfast prepared by a personal chef, and that the campaign season will be the last you’ll hear him speak to Hispanic Americans in their native tongue, at least until 2016. No, this is Mitt, but unfortunately for him, this isn’t so much about unfaltering honesty as much as it is about bad acting; perhaps a few lessons are in order. The arrogance, the out-of-touch-seeming remarks can all be left at home. We’re going to need you to pretend you know what it’s like to grocery shop, to live on a budget, to worry about paying for your children’s education, to contemplate plan B and C should you lose your job tomorrow. And for the future, should anyone try to serve you up some strange, suspicious baked goods again, try to ignore them and skip over quickly to a talking point. But if by some tragic chance someone directly offers one contaminated confection to you, take a bite, chew through the pain, and offer up an insincere compliment; this last option may drive the literal nail into your coffin, but hey, at least you’ll have their vote.