Mr. Romney –
You’ve been getting a lot of heat lately for claiming that 47% of Americans don’t pay income taxes and are already firmly in President Obama’s camp. That’s not a fun place to be in as Election Day looms. Most of the media (leftists all, I know) have been focusing on the muddy math you’re working with in that statement, but my concern falls mainly on the last part of your statement, in which you claim that it’s “not your job” to worry about these voters.
It might not be your job, at the moment, to worry about voters you feel are already committed to your opponent’s cause. But the reason I’m flustered about this particular comment is that it forms part of a long list of things on this campaign that have not been your job and that, if you want to be President of the United States at a particularly fractious time in our history, should be.
The first thing you wrote off as not part of your job was your tenure at Bain Capital. We still don’t have a satisfactory answer as to why you were listed as an executive on the SEC papers after 1999, the year you now claim to have left Bain. I have no ill will toward private equity in itself, but in your quest to avoid the possible political fallout of job cuts performed by Bain after 1999, you claimed that the decisions enacted there while you were listed in executive positions weren’t your responsibility. You show no interest in defending those cuts or condemning them – you merely write them off as having nothing to do with you.
We got another taste of things that aren’t your job when your surrogate Bobby Jindal came to your defense over some mishaps in the United Kingdom. The Republican Party, he said, wasn’t interested in the feelings of foreigners – only the feelings of the voters back home. (Some of them, anyway, it seems.) This strikes me as an odd attitude to have while the United States copes with the rising power of China, a rival and partner, and with struggles in Europe (fiscal) and the Middle East (political). The feelings of foreigners don’t mater, you again claimed, after our embassy was attacked in Libya. A president should make Americans feel better about themselves, instead. Your job is not to worry about how the rest of the world sees us – another area of responsibility you’ve written off.
You also, in the same video that brought us the 47% quote, disavow any responsibility for the Israel-Palestine peace process, claiming that you can never change the minds of those war-loving Palestinians. That’s not your job, and it’s not your responsibility.
You even wrote off responsibility for your dressage horse competing in this year’s Olympics. That’s Ann’s thing – you just make sure the tax write-offs happen.
Now that you’ve also written off your responsibility for half of the American electorate, I’d like to remind you of the responsibility that a President of the United States does have. He (or she, looking forward) has to represent America for all Americans, not only to ourselves, but to everyone who still looks toward the United States as a grand and possibly successful experiment in government and goodness in the world. A President is entrusted with the welfare of the entire population of the United States, and safeguarding the national interests of the polity both at home and abroad. In the best of cases, a President works to produce conditions favorable to health, wealth, and prosperity, while conducting operations to make sure that Americans at home and abroad are not in harm’s way unnecessarily. Sometimes that means taking on the mantle of responsibility for things not explicitly in your job description.
And if you won’t accept that, then perhaps you aren’t the right person for the job.