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Kathleen Parker: Mechanical Romney on display again

BY KATHLEEN PARKER Published: September 19, 2012
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What's a day without a leaked video, a scandal, an unintended sliver of truth?

OMG: Mitt Romney doesn't care about the votes of the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay federal income taxes and therefore don't care much about his message of lower taxes.

Who. Knew?

A person running for president should keep his thinking cap more tightly affixed even when among his own kind, millionaires in Romney's case. And he should make sure his facts are right. Although true that nearly 47 percent don't pay income taxes, most do pay payroll taxes, as many have pointed out. Moreover, of the 18.1 percent of households that pay neither income nor payroll taxes, most are elderly or earn less than $20,000, according to the Tax Policy Center.

But it is also true that tax issues are of greater significance to those who see large chunks of income disappear from their checks each pay period. It's easy to decide how much others should pay for your support when it's not your money.

Still, Romney's comments sounded callous and merciless, and will haunt him through the election. They also revealed something we hadn't previously seen. Unguarded, Romney is no compassionate conservative. At his core, he is … a cyborg.

The human part of him may hop out of bed in the middle of the night to comfort someone in distress. Such stories abound. But the mechanical Romney on display in the video is strictly pragmatic. Problem: How to win presidential election. Solution: Focus on economy and ignore those who don't pay any taxes.

But and alas, humans, not machines, vote and win elections. For good or ill, voters want their president to be caring if not paternal. Smart politicians return in kind: They hug strangers and pose for pictures; they kiss babies; the pros shed tears.

Romney is not that person. Dry-eyed and awkward, he was born lucky and seems to lack the empathy born of struggle.

It is factually true that those who receive government largesse are not wildly interested in a candidate who promises to cut entitlements, especially when he also wants to cut taxes for the rich. As Romney said, the entitled ones will never vote for him so “my job is not to worry about those people.”

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