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Best Of Cog

Mitt Romney pauses as he addresses campaign workers while visiting a Pennsylvania call center on Nov. 6, 2012. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

Back in mid-September — at a critical moment in the presidential race — the website of the magazine Mother Jones posted video of secretly recorded comments made by Republican candidate Mitt Romney at a private fundraiser .

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims. … These are people who pay no income tax. … and so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” Romney said.

The uproar was immediate and intense. Pundits, critics and supporters alike speculated that it might cost him the election. There’s no way to tell how much of an impact it had, but we know now how it turned out.

Steve Almond

Steve Almond

Long before Romney’s fate was sealed though, the former Massachusetts governor found an unlikely defender in Steve Almond. In his Sept. 21, 2012, piece “We Are All Mitt Romney,” Almond writes that though he finds the content of Romney’s spiel “totally despicable”:

there’s been something especially unsettling about watching this latest flap unfold. And it’s this: All of us who are sitting in judgment of Romney have behaved exactly like him in our own lives … this is just what people do. We present one version of ourselves in public — kind, reasonable, sensitive — and another in private. Away from the scrutiny of those who might judge us, we feel liberated to ditch the politesse.

Almond says whether you agree with him or not, there was little doubt you were seeing “the real Mitt Romney”:

He wasn’t awkwardly trying to play a man of the people, or singing off-key, or making baffling jokes about the height of trees. He was telling a bunch of people he trusted what he really believes. Isn’t that what all our candidates should be doing?

We asked Almond for an update, now that the election is behind us and the public has had plenty of time to fill the comments thread with reaction to his piece:

I learned long ago that the comments section of any article is the place to go for good old American idiocy. Still, it was something of a shock that so many people missed the point of the article. One guy even called it a “shill piece” for Romney. Wow. I guess he skipped the part where I called Romney’s 47 percent comments “totally despicable and unsurprising.” It was, after all, all the way down in the second paragraph. Anyway, the piece was not an endorsement of Mitt Romney. It was an endorsement of candor. Yeah for candor!

– S.A. 12/10/12

Some readers did not appreciate the suggestion that they in any way resembled Gov. Romney:

Edith: We are not all Mitt Romney and to assert that we are requires a stretch of the imagination.  When most people get together with their friends to ‘say what we really think’ it makes no difference.  Most of us have no power.

Pointpanic: …not only was Romney not factually accurate but he was also condescending to the people he professes to want to serve.

You can read the original piece here.

Tags: Best Of Cog, Election 2012, Mitt Romney

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.

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  • proudconservativerepublican

    He’s saying his job is not to worry about GETTING THEIR VOTES. He would of course have cared abou them if elected, and cares about them now. He’s not the evil magnate that the liberal media portrayed him as.

    • Pointpanic

      WHAT???????

  • Pointpanic

    UNllike Romney, I am not a public figure. If I aspire to serve the public ,I have to be honest about how I would go about it and what I would value as a public servant. I still maintain, I am NOT Romney. Unlike him ,I value nature, arts and democracy for their intrinsic worth rather than for how they can fatten my wallet or the bottom line. If his car malfunctions,it’s a mere inconvenience for him. If it happens to me it’s a crisis that has to be attended to promptly. Given who he is and what he values ,how the hell can he have anything in common with me? he was only being “honest’ because he didn’t know the public would hear his comments.To say that we are all Romney is rhetorical tripe. I can’t believe ,this was selected as the “best of Cog.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/stan.kano Stan Kano

    What Mitt Romney said about the 47% is absolutely true or we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place.

  • jefe68

    Well I don’t say that about 47% of the population.

    I say that about the top 5 to 0.01% and how they are not paying their fare share.

    All of this is moot of course because according to Mitts son Tagg Mitt did not want to be president anyway.

    The other thing is, I was never running for a political office and if I was I would have been more nuanced than Mr. Romney if I was.

    The premiss of this article is a bit off in my view.

  • proudsocialistdemocrat

    Did anyone read the article? The main focus of it (as far as I read it) is that we all present two faces: one for public consumption, and one when we think we’re in private. So while we may or may not agree with what Mitt’s “private” face had to say, the author’s point is that we should not “throw stones” at him for being two-faced. We all live in that “glass house” together. I know I do…

    • Van der Meer

      Mitt had a primary face and a general election face as well as a face for his benefactors… glass house??? What face would he wear in the White House?
      Mitt was scary!

    • Pointpanic

      Proud, he was running for public office. Such two faced hypocrisy on his part betrays his reluctance to be accountable to the citizens

  • Bill (Maine)

    “I learned long ago that the comments section of any article is the place to go for good old American idiocy. Still, it was something of a shock that so many people missed the point of the article. One guy even called it a “shill piece” for Romney. Wow. I guess he skipped the part where I called Romney’s 47 percent comments “totally despicable and unsurprising.” It was, after all, all the way down in the second paragraph. Anyway, the piece was not an endorsement of Mitt Romney. It was an endorsement of candor. Yeah for candor!”

    Steve Almond is confused. Candor is not something to be cheered for its own sake: whether it should be cheered or booed depends on the quality of candor. And if someone is, deep down, a boorish asshole, but they have filters and pretenses that make them polite and pleasant to be around, I say, three cheers for pretense and keep those filters strong.

    Unfortunately for him, Mitt Romney is a boor with and without his filters.

    • Pointpanic

      Bill, I think,I’m the one that called it a “shill piece”. For although Steve did call Romney’s remarks ‘totally despicable and unsurprising” I got the impression that he justified Romney’s hypocrisy by saying we’re all guilty of it via public/private persona. Given that he was a presidential andidate who was to represent all the people , STeve seemed to let him off the hook.

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