In Defense of the 47 Percent
Leonard Pitts Jr
Sharkara Peters is a 35-year-old single mother of two. She works 34 hours a week at a fast-food restaurant. A few months back, she was hospitalized with a blood clot in her lung. Then, one of her daughters needed surgery. As a result, Peters lost about three weeks of work, and could not muster her
I asked Peters what President Obama should do for people in her economic situation and she answered without hesitation. Obama, she said, needs to do something about girls on welfare that just sit up and have baby after baby and never try to better themselves.
You see, nobody likes freeloaders.
The point is made for the benefit of
In the video, posted online by the liberal magazine Mother Jones, Romney says it'd be a waste of time pitching his campaign to those moochers: "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Sharkara Peters does not need
If the gaffe concretizes the caricature of an out-of-touch rich guy, a cognac-swilling peer of
For the record, I gave you no surname for Michelle, the single mother referenced above, precisely because she was too embarrassed to let me use it.
Romney's remarks, then, are of a piece with a narrative -- poverty as character defect -- favored by many who know exactly jack about the reality of poverty, but who have discovered that demonizing the faceless poor, giving us someone new to resent and blame, is good politics. They wrap their attacks in rags of righteousness and pretensions of pragmatism, but there is something viscerally wrong, morally shrunken, in a nation where the most fortunate are encouraged to treat the least fortunate as some enemy race.
So the big story here is not about what damage Romney did to his campaign. Yes, the fact that he used condemnation of the poor as a lever of political advantage shames him.
But the very fact that the lever exists shames us all.
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In Defense of the 47 Percent | Politics
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