Clandestine videos? Cries of "Gaffe! Gaffe!" -- ? Claims by talking heads that "the campaign is over for Romney" and that "Obama's re-election is inevitable" -- ?
Par for the course.
The Obama re-election campaign is in desperate trouble. All the indicators point directly toward his being unseated on November 6. The president's economic record is indefensible, his foreign policy notions have been proved infantile, and his own words are counting heavily against him. His campaign style has emphasized entertainment celebrities, media sycophants, and "pimps with limps." What does a president in so much electoral trouble have to fall back on?
- The support of the Mainstream Media;
- Vilification of his opponent.
Or a combination of the three.
The most visible component of the Obama re-election effort has been its fundraising strategy: appeal to entertainment celebrities and rich cronies for the wampum with which to beat back the unexpectedly well funded Romney / Ryan ticket. But one can only go to that well so many times in a campaign before the bucket comes back empty...unless something occurs to flood it afresh.
The press has seized repeatedly upon Romney "gaffes" in the hope that their coverage, coupled to well calibrated ripostes from Obama, will put more water in that well. So whenever Romney says anything at all, Obama's media allies put every imaginable interpretation on it in hopes that it can be presented to their readers and viewers in an unfavorable light -- unfavorable to Romney, that is. The most recent case of this is, of course, the clandestine video shot at the Florida fundraiser in which Romney cited the generally known fact that about 47% of Americans currently pay no income tax.
Note: The truth of what Romney said is incontrovertible. Various talking heads of the left-liberal persuasion have quibbled, saying that the 47% pay other sorts of taxes -- most notably Social Security and Medicare taxes -- but Romney's statement was about the income tax, which provides about half of all federal revenues and is the principal source of funding for the political redistribution of income and wealth in these United States.
Inasmuch as a curiously similar fraction of Americans -- about 47% -- receive some sort of transfer payment from the federal government, that eyebrows are raised over it should come as no surprise.
Obama and his allies don't want those eyebrows raised. They tend to indicate reconsideration in progress. They suggest that Obama's propaganda corps -- gee, I wonder how he pronounces that little word? -- isn't predominating at the line of rhetorical scrimmage.
So Romney's completely indisputable statement must somehow be turned into a "gaffe" -- that is, into an affront to American voters. His campaign spokesmen and his press sycophants have bent all their considerable powers to that effort.
Good luck with that.
Let's disaggregate the 47% who pay no income tax a bit, just to establish that we're on the side of the angels. Among those who pay no income tax:
- Some live on veterans' pensions;
- Some live on Social Security;
- Some earn very little money;
- Some are exempt from income tax for other entirely defensible reasons.
Moreover, there's no doubt that some fraction of the 47% would dearly love to be employed again, sufficiently gainfully to pay income taxes. They're unhappy with their lot and eager to change it as soon as possible. Add these to the sectors above for whose votes Romney could plausibly contend.
I have no doubt the Romney / Ryan ticket would appreciate their support. It will get some fraction of them, though how large a fraction must remain unknown. All the same, to expect that any great fraction of the 47% that receive federal transfer payments will support the candidate who's promised to shrink the federal government defies logic. Men do not commonly vote against their own economic interests.
Romney's statement at that Florida fundraiser merely acknowledged this fact.
The election is being fiercely contested. Every tactic known to political science has been thrown into the mix. No one is being terribly "nice" by the usual standards. That's politics in these United States, and there's little to be done about it.
The Democrats' hope is that Obama's rhetorical magic can somehow persuade a weary electorate that he should be permitted to continue his program of enlarging the federal government, seizing control of ever more sectors of the economy, and broadening regulatory intrusions into those areas that remain largely private. To accomplish this feat of political legerdemain, his spokesmen and allies must argue that the Obamunist program is "working," but that it needs more time to reach its full effect. This requires that unpleasant and inconvenient facts about unemployment, the diminution of average household wealth, and the march of dismal reports on job creation be somehow eclipsed by other matters. From this baseline proceeds the entire Obama campaign strategy, in all its particulars: the personal attacks and imputations against Romney, the "war on women" nonsense, the appeals to class warfare and identity politics, the promotion of the execution of Osama bin Laden, and all the rest of it.
The Republicans' hope is that the facts will out. This is not guaranteed. Neither is it guaranteed that the electorate will view them as conservatives do: as indications that the Obamunist social-fascist program is itself the problem. Obama's attempts to claim that his problems are all inherited, and that no one could possibly have done any better with them, must be snorted aside. But this hope relies upon a degree of percipience and sober appreciation of reality that people in economic pain haven't always exhibited.
All the same:
47% of Americans receive federal transfer payments.
47% of Americans pay no income tax, regardless of the reason.
And the Obama re-election campaign needs every one of those votes, plus a few in more fortunate categories, to prevail on November 6.