Can we take Mitt seriously?

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is difficult to peg.  I’m not sure that he is interested in governing based on his track record here in Massachusetts while Governor.  Romney spent large hunks of his time running for President and not showing much interest in the state.  He seems to understand capitalism as practiced by companies like Bain Capital, but is really uninterested in what goes on with ordinary middle class and the working poor.  He can’t seem to hit the right notes and for the left is all too often the butt of jokes.  Here are two.

04.11MITTHARVARD.gif

Dan Wasserman on Mitt and Harvard.

Then there is Calvin Trillin.

The Republican National Committee Selects a Campaign Slogan

Our slogan’s been chosen.
We think it’s a hit.
We’ll shout from the rafters,
“We settle for Mitt!”

There is the dog on the roof, the liking to fire people, etc. etc. etc. 

But he is going to be the nominee for the Republicans and we need to find out what we can take seriously.  Greg Sargent writing in the Washington Post’s Plum Line blog took at stab at it today.

A few days ago, Mitt Romney chatted with a bunch of firefighters, who told him about their struggles in the Obama economy. As Romney recalled it: “I asked the firefighters I was meeting with, about 15 or them, how many had had to take another job to make ends meet, and almost every one of them had.”

Of course, firefighters are public sector workers. And Romney has said that public sector workers are getting paid too much, not that they’re getting paid too little. As Jonathan Chait puts it:

Romney’s position is that these fine public servants are luxuriating in excessive pay, a fact that, unlike swelling income inequality, constitutes a major source of unfairness in American life. (“We will stop the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve,” he said last week.)

This is actually a policy flashpoint between the two parties. Public employment has cratered in recent years, with public sector jobs continuing to decline even as private sector jobs rebound, exerting a continued drag on the sluggish recovery. Obama’s position is that the federal government ought to provide aid to state governments to rehire some of the laid-off teachers, cops, and firefighters. Republicans oppose this. Romney seems to have forgotten that the firefighters he came face-to-face with are one category of Americans whose economic pain he’s supposed to be in favor of.

Steve Benen takes this further, adding that the episode and the attendant contradiction reveal the failure of Romney’s “transactional politics.” Romney is looking to take things away from public sector workers, students who rely on Pell Grants, those who rely on entitlements and government programs that might be cut, and the like:

His is an agenda of austerity, a sharp reduction in public investments, and hostility towards government activism in general. In a transactional sense, Romney has to hope most voters aren’t looking to make a traditional electoral trade, because he doesn’t intend to give them anything.

What we can take seriously is that Mitt doesn’t care about anyone who isn’t rich.  We can take seriously that he and today’s Republican Party want to take women back to the 1950′s and even further.  We need to wake up to the fact that today’s Republican Party offers the 99% nothing.  We need to take Mitt at his word and vote for him at our peril.