Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 | 2:01 a.m.
Mitt Romney finally has it figured out. He knows why he lost. Guess what? It was all President Barack Obama’s fault.
Of course, that’s not exactly the way Romney puts it. He puts it in a way that sounds even sillier than that. Or perhaps, depending on your worldview, more tragic.
In a 20-minute afternoon conference call with his major donors and fundraisers eight days after Election Day, Romney blamed his loss on Obama’s bestowing what Romney called “gifts” to various groups of voters, “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”
Zounds! As we used to say back in the day when most people received their news on newsprint, stop the presses!
As the sly prefect in the movie “Casablanca” might say, I am shocked, shocked. Thanks to the former Republican presidential candidate, I now realize that the president openly and shamelessly — Gasp! — offered programs and policies to America’s voters that actually would help Americans improve their lives. Those Chicago guys will stop at nothing.
“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Romney said. A simple question came to my mind upon hearing this news about “gifts”: Where’s mine?
Romney was proud to contrast Obama’s “gift”-giving strategy with his own tight-fisted talk about “big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” said Romney, who probably never had to take out a college loan in his life.
“Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women,” he said. Sounds like he’s been listening too much to Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio talker who called law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for advocating government-funded contraceptives. Republicans fume at Democrats for suggesting the Grand Old Party is waging a “war against women,” although it’s not hard to see where the Dems get that idea.
In that light, I congratulate Ohio Sen. Nina Turner, a Cleveland Democrat, for introducing a bill in April that would require men to visit a sex therapist before getting a prescription for erectile-dysfunction drugs such as Viagra. What’s good for the gander should be good for the goose.
“And then, finally,” said Romney, “Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people.” And, I would add, to many of their parents.
That President Obama sure is a clever fellow, giving so many Americans what they want. I wonder why that notion, apparently, didn’t appeal to Romney? Oh, right. It did.
He promised seniors, for example, that he’d restore President Obama’s $716 billion in Medicare cuts despite his passionate pleas for cuts in soaring budget deficits. He also promised that, no matter what, he wouldn’t touch Medicare and Social Security spending for at least a decade.
He looked like Santa Claus to upper-income earners with his promises to protect them from Obama’s proposed income tax hikes. He also promised Wall Street that he would roll back the Dodd-Frank financial regulations that were legislated to rein in the abuses that led to the 2008 financial crash.
Yet, Romney referred to none of these offerings as “gifts” on the campaign trail. Now his sour-grapes postmortems have sent even his fellow Republicans Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, among others, fast-walking away from him. Wise move, gentlemen.
Romney’s remarks echo his earlier secretly-recorded comments to donors last year in Boca Raton about the “47 percent of Americans” who “don’t pay taxes,” refuse to take responsibility for their lives and will support Obama no matter what. “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” he said. What is it about talking to donors that brings out Romney’s inner upper-class twit?
“My job is not to worry about those people,” he said. That’s OK. I don’t think they’re too worried about him, either.
Clarence Page is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He writes from Washington.