It’s pretty bad for the GOP when one of the America’s top conservative columnists feels compelled to blister the Republican nominee 7 weeks before the election. Responding to Romney’s comments (see post below) about nearly half of Americans being trapped in a culture of dependency, Brooks writes,
Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers… Romney’s comments also reveal that he has lost any sense of the social compact. In 1987, during Ronald Reagan’s second term, 62 percent of Republicans believed that the government has a responsibility to help those who can’t help themselves. Now, according to the Pew Research Center, only 40 percent of Republicans believe that.
The Republican Party, and apparently Mitt Romney, too, has shifted over toward a much more hyperindividualistic and atomistic social view — from the Reaganesque language of common citizenship to the libertarian language of makers and takers. There’s no way the country will trust the Republican Party to reform the welfare state if that party doesn’t have a basic commitment to provide a safety net for those who suffer for no fault of their own.
The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency.
Brooks continues with a searing observation that “as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.” Brooks is also right that Romney is “running a depressingly inept campaign,” which many would agree bodes ill for his credibility as a potential leader of the free world.