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Mitt Romney, Closet Conservative

Many conservatives have long suspected that Mitt Romney is not really one of us. I have never agreed with this assessment; instead, I think Romney is a solid conservative who doesn’t come across as a fire-breather because of his lifetime as a buttoned-down businessman. Now, Romney can thank Mother Jones for outing him for what he really is: a true conservative.

In a one-minute video clip now being touted by those hostile to Romney as a blow to his campaign, Romney points out that many Americans–he uses the shorthand number 47%, which overstates the case–have little incentive to vote for him because they don’t pay (significant) taxes and they get money from the government. So it turns out that Romney has the same opinion of Obama’s supporters that Obama does, as demonstrated by his campaign’s infamous Julia cartoons: Obama, too, thinks his supporters are a bunch of helpless dependents.

In substance, of course, Romney was making the same point I made here, and which was discussed by Thomas Sowell and Peter Robinson in the Uncommon Knowledge episode which Scott posted this morning. Put more crudely than Romney expressed it, when the day comes when there are more people riding in the sled than there are people pulling it, we are in big trouble.

Welfare was always a winning issue for Republicans, but it seemed to become moot, at the federal level, after the welfare reform of 1994. Now, as government dependency has skyrocketed during the Age of Obama, it is back on the table. Romney should be ready to recite the dependency numbers at the drop of a hat: the millions of long-term unemployed, the millions more who have left the labor force, one-sixth of Americans on food stamps, an astonishing 8.7 million now on permanent and total disability. And the Obama administration thinks we don’t have enough dependency, as is demonstrated by their efforts to recruit more and more Americans and illegal aliens into the food stamp program.

Romney shouldn’t be at all defensive about the Mother Jones video clip. Whenever he is asked about it, he should say that the most fundamental difference between him and Barack Obama is that he wants people to have jobs, and Obama wants them to be dependent on the government. Then he should start reeling off statistics. He should conclude by saying that we need more people paying taxes because they have jobs, and fewer collecting benefits because they don’t. If he responds aggressively a few times, reporters will stop asking.

But that isn’t all: a second Mother Jones clip finds Romney telling the truth about Israel and the Palestinians:

“I’m torn by two perspectives in this regard,” Romney said…. “One is the one which I’ve had for some time, which is that the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace, and that the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish.” …

Romney said that the Palestinians would demand full control over its own borders, and suggested they could open access to military armaments. “And of course the Iranians would want to do through the West Bank exactly what they did through Lebanon, what they did near Gaza. Which is that the Iranians would want to bring missiles and armament into the West Bank and potentially threaten Israel.”

Concluding that the Palestinians remain “committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel,” the US presidential candidate endorsed a strategy of maintaining the status quo. “You move things along the best way you can,” he said. “You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem.”

This is the kind of thing a presidential candidate can say to a friendly audience, that he probably won’t put in a television commercial or say in a public forum. It’s too bad: the private Mitt Romney is a heck of a lot more compelling, not to mention more conservative, than the public version. A few weeks ago I attended a Romney fundraiser in the Twin Cities, the only one scheduled for Minnesota during the campaign. Romney was electric, more passionate than I have ever seen him. I said at the time that his campaign should film him in that setting, before a friendly audience of conservatives, and edit the footage into a series of 30 or 60 second commercials. Maybe, if we were lucky, Mother Jones was there and will do it for us.

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