Mitt Romney has fallen off a cliff. And he's not climbing back up.
For most of this election season, Romney has fooled many Americans -- Democrats included -- into believing he was a sort of moderate-conservative at heart who was playing to the right to bolster his Tea Party appeal. He was the man who brought universal health care to Massachusetts, right? The guy who once said he was pro-choice? The pragmatist who blows with the wind?
Or so the story went.
Look again. Romney's sneering comments to a Boca Raton Republican fundraiser last May, captured on video and posted on the magazine Mother Jones website, show someone else -- a heartless, arrogant and ignorant elitist. Hear his words:
"There are 47 percent of the people ... dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the 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. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them."
He suggests all those people will vote for President Obama because they don't pay income taxes and don't care about Mitt's magnanimous tax cuts.
So let's forget for a moment that this group includes retirees -- among them all those elderly white males who disproportionately vote Republican -- who, like all hard-working Americans who've contributed to government programs, believe they are entitled to the proceeds of them when they stop working.
No, let's focus on Romney himself. What did he have to say for himself when word of this breathtaking video broke? He said that his comments were "not elegantly stated." That's right. That's it. He didn't say they were wrong. He didn't say they were ignorant. He didn't say they were willfully dismissive of the American people and their hard work. Just "not elegantly stated."
Even conservative-leaning New York Times columnist David Brooks went ballistic. He wrote:
This comment ... suggests that [Romney] really doesn't know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?
It suggests that Romney doesn't know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else....
Brooks, perhaps remembering his political clothing, eases up toward the end of his piece, suggesting this is just Mitt Romney the posturer. (The "kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not.")
I say, no dice. This is the man who won't release his taxes, who thinks people earning $200,000 a year are in the heart of the middle class, who shoots from the hip in mid-international crisis, who at the same fundraiser made a crack that he might be better off as a candidate if his parents had been Mexican. What a yuck.
I'm beginning to realize that Mitt Romney is a perfect match for the Republican Party in 2012 -- arrogant and out of touch. He and his party simply haven't figured out that smug, aging, white American males are not America's future, either demographically or aspirationally.
We remain a pretty conservative country. But we also are a people with pride and a sense of personal dignity and worth. So I'll go out on a limb right now. In-trade today has Romney trailing by odds of more than 2 to 1 and dropping like a rock.
But for all the GOP Super PACs multimillions, I don't need an oddsmaker to tell you that Mitt Romney is toast in this election. And I can't say I'm shedding a tear.