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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Jonathan Chait captures the key point about the Romney tape – it reveals Romney’s true and appalling character that lurks behind his public mask

Here’s how Chait puts it:

…the video exposes an authentic Romney as a far more sinister character than I had imagined. Here is the sneering plutocrat, fully in thrall to a series of pernicious myths that are at the heart of the mania that has seized his party. He believes that market incomes in the United States are a perfect reflection of merit. Far from seeing his own privileged upbringing as the private-school educated son of an auto executive-turned-governor as an obvious refutation of that belief, Romney cites his own life, preposterously, as a confirmation of it. (“I have inherited nothing. Everything I earned I earned the old fashioned way.”)
…The revelations in this video come to me as a genuine shock. I have never hated Romney. I presumed his ideological makeover since he set out to run for president was largely phony, even if he was now committed to carry through with it, and to whatever extent he’d come to believe his own lines, he was oblivious or naïve about the damage he would inflict upon the poor, sick, and vulnerable. It seems unavoidable now to conclude that Romney’s embrace of Paul Ryanism is born of actual contempt for the looters and moochers, a class war on behalf of his own class.

For voters who pay attention to the daily news cycle, it is this dramatic glimpse of the “real Romney” that will be most destructive to his campaign. The elaborately constructed public persona – not only the Republican convention “nice guy with a sense of humor” (which virtually no-one believed anyway) but also the “tall, take-charge-guy with great hair and pseudo-Kennedyesque look of smart, competent leadership” (which the campaign has studiously promoted in all of Romney’s ads and public appearances), have all been revealed as media artifice.
The public Romney, it turns out, is an air-brushed, sanitized, focus-grouped, media-coached illusion. What lies beneath is, as Chait says, a “sneering plutocrat” of genuinely “sinister character,” a man who should be seen as a sincere ideological comrade-in-arms of Ayn Rand and Rush Limbaugh and a genuinely repugnant candidate for the presidency.
Richard Nixon’s carefully crafted public image collapsed when the Watergate tapes first revealed the genuinely vile, nasty, brutish man behind the public image. If the media presentation of the new video dramatizes the reality behind Romney’s public façade, it may actually play a similarly pivotal role in his downfall.

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