By Matthew Rothschild on September 19, 2012

Mitt Romney himself has had a hard time defending his own callous comments about the 47 percent of Americans “who believe they are victims.”

Now Ann Romney and Paul Ryan are spinning themselves silly trying to clean up after him.

With a ridiculously soft interviewer on Denver’s KDVR Fox 31, Ann Romney said her husband was “absolutely not” expressing disdain for the 47 percent. “I know he cares,” she said, stressing several times what a caring person he is.

She also said his comments were “misunderstood” and “taken out of context.” Here’s how she interpreted them: “More and more people are falling into poverty, more, in particular, women are falling into poverty. There is a concern on his part, which is why he’s running. He wants to bring better economic opportunity to everybody.”

Her husband, she said, is concerned that “more and more will become more dependent” on government.

She also said that her husband “doesn’t need to do this for a job,” but that he wants to become president to “bring more certainty to people, especially to women.”

Paul Ryan, for his part, continued the “Message: He Cares” approach in an interview with WAVY in Newport News, VA.

"I think the point that Mitt is trying to make is that he cares not only about the middle class, he wants to grow the middle class," Ryan said. "He wants to get people out of poverty and into the middle class."

Ryan characterized Romney’s comments as “inarticulate,” but said: “We don't want to promote more government dependency. We want opportunity."

When pressed by the reporter about whether the 47 percent of Americans were “victims,” as Romney had called them, Ryan responded: "The way to get those 47 percent of Americans who are not income taxpayers to become taxpayers is to create jobs.”

When the reporter noted that “83 percent of that group are either seniors or working Americans,” Ryan didn’t have an answer for that.

But Ryan, when asked directly, said he would stand by Romney’s statement.

“Yeah,” he said, “the whole point he was trying to make was to get people from lives of dependency and economic stagnation that’s occurred in the Obama administration because of his failed policies, back to lives of self-sufficiency.”

For the record, here were Romney’s actual words as recorded on the now-infamous video. “There are 47 percent who are with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it,” Romney said on the video. “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax . . . And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “The Real Romney: Scorn on Ice."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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