Romney's Latest Boner: The Emperor Has No Clothes, No Plans and No ExcusesS

There's an old political line about how a gaffe is merely a case of a politician inadvertently revealing an obvious truth. In that sense, Mitt Romney has been on an honesty rampage for six years. He is the Mr. Bean-like embodiment of every impulse to accidentally thoroughly disrobe before an unwilling nation.

Two days ago, Mother Jones released a secret recording of Romney speaking at a $50,000-a-plate dinner, at the Boca Raton house of a hedge-fund manager and off-brand imperial pervert, and the blogosphere erupted in shock at the truths he revealed behind closed doors.

But here's the thing: none of this was really new. If the definition of a gaffe is the one outlined above, then the most crucial word in it is obvious. Being shocked that Romney has a cynical view of racial demographics, foreign policy and poor people because of this video requires a deafness to ominous foreshadowing so total that you're shocked when the alien lady in V distends her jaw and swallows a rodent whole.

Take race. "We're having a much harder time with Hispanic voters," Romney says. "And if the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting bloc has in the past, why we're in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation." There's nothing vicious, here; it's numbers. On 24-news yesterday, some bozo tried to conflate Mitt's "Hispanics voting" with "in trouble as a nation" to make an overtly racist point, but there isn't one here. There's just cynicism.

The Republican Party is the party of white people, and they're running out of white people. Lindsey Graham admitted as much. But, if you read the transcript, Romney's approach isn't to try to find a way for the GOP to speak to blacks—they're 100% written off—or Hispanics or provide them programs or services that target their communities but instead to point to the looming threat of their voting to shake more money out of the people surrounding him. The problem, then, isn't, "How can the Republican Party speak to Hispanics?" but, rather, "How can the Republican Party speak louder than Hispanics?"

Of course, what might speak loudest is this part:

ROMNEY: My dad, you probably know, was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company, but he was born in Mexico. And had he been born of Mexican parents I'd have a better shot at winning this, but he was [audience laughs] unfortunately born of Americans living in Mexico. They'd lived there for a number of years, and, uh, I mean I say that jokingly, but it'd be helpful if they'd been Latino…

Ahahahahaha. See, it's funny how fucked you are being non-white in the United States, unless it helps you to win significant voting blocs via the kind of identity politics the GOP claims to despise. But you already knew that.

Then there's foreign policy. About the prospect of peace in Palestine, Romney says:

there's just no way. And so what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that it's going to remain an unsolved problem.... I got a call from a former secretary of state—and I won't mention which one it was—but this individual said to me, "You know, I think there's a prospect for a settlement between the Palestinians and the Israelis after the Palestinian elections." I said, "Really?" And his answer was, "Yes, I think there's some prospect." And I didn't delve into it...

When he says, "There's just no way," he refers to Palestinian obstructionism. The "Palestinians [do] not [want] to see peace anyway, for political purposes." It's cruel and stupid, but he's already described Palestinians as culturally inferior anyway.

Everyone already knows that Romney is an empty suit when it comes to foreign policy. Conceding that the problem is insoluble and doing nothing errs on the side of his interests—his buddy Bibi in Israel and his buddy Sheldon Adelson over by the checkbook. Maintaining the status quo allows settlers to flow into the West Bank and create permanent communities that endanger a two-state solution. Historically speaking, this is a proud part of the world in which to wash your hands of problems, and Mitt can cravenly support one side by appearing too stymied to even choose. As for having an ex-Secretary of State in his pocket, points at least for trying to play it both ways. Things are too complicated to do anything, but if things get dire, he has a secret plan to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict! Richard Nixon had a secret plan to win in Vietnam, and look how well that worked out.

Then there's the 47% thing: these people pay "no taxes," perceive themselves as victims, and you can't even slap the federal tit out of their mouth and get them to stop suckling long enough to pay attention. They won't stop voting for Obama, because everyone loves their dealer, right? You can't put together a half-assed Google search for this topic without hitting on at least a dozen good writers making good points about an imperiled class warrior addressing a room of fellow aristocrats about the necessity of pouring boiling oil down the ramparts, for the benefit of everyone below.

There are only two novel points raised by Mitt's speech, and they aren't getting nearly as much airtime as the "gaffes" themselves. One, if taxes are so anathema and something the Republican Party is trying to liberate everyone from, why are people living free from them the enemy? (Apart, of course, from both payroll taxes and regressive excise taxes.) How are these people not heroes? Further, if trickle-down economics works, how come he can't sell it to these people? We've been trying it for years, so there must be reams of data Romney can show the American people proving that tax cuts benefiting him have made everyone proportionally just as well off. The two most telling bits of his speech are tacit admissions: that not paying federal income taxes is only okay for a certain class of people, and that he has no way of succeeding, with that argument, with any class other than his own.

Until election day, then, how much more does anyone need? Pundits leapt on this video as evidence of "The Real Romney," what he says behind closed doors, but it's more of the same. He doesn't have anything to say to minorities? Okay, woof woof, who let the dogs out? He doesn't have anything substantive to say on foreign policy. All right, what just happened last week? He's got an aristocratic attitude toward money in America? Well, he's been unemployed(!), likes being able to fire people, and his vision of middle income for households is $200,000-$250,000—four or five times the worth of the median American household. Even his 47% line is a year old, cribbed from Erick Erickson, who, after his day job as the pampered second daddy on Modern Family, has been trying to hump his disingenuous accountancy into something like a movement for white Americans SICK OF BEING UNDER THE BOOT OF THE MAN.

Seeing this as a "gotcha" moment is just weird. Romney's falsity has almost zero pretensions to accurate approximation of real-world phenomena. He's a perspective-free Banksy painting on a temporary wall, depicting a woman with a beard, dentures, two mismatched melons stuffed inside a plastic dress, and a hook for a hand. What we see might be horribly inaccurate at depicting humanity, but it's 100% genuine Mitt Romney. He can't help but keep hurling clumsy, stupid, awful reality at you. The guy on the tape is the guy on stage, and there was never any difference. Let's hang the MISSION ACCOMPLISHED banner and go get tacos until this nightmare blows over.

[Image by Jim Cooke, source photos via Getty]