Political Animal


June 17, 2012 9:30 AM Preaching to the Choir: Romney’s Faith & Freedom Coalition Speech

By Elon Green

Between the continued coverage of the immigration directive and the Greek vote, the speech Mitt Romney gave yesterday at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition conference has gotten little attention. That’s too bad; there aren’t many opportunities to see Romney engage the most socially conservative wing of his party.

Once the throat-clearing was over, Romney told a story: how, many years ago, a boy water-skiing on Utah Lake drowned because the boat “had no anchor” and the vessel drifted away. The death of this boy, it seems, reminds Romney of how grateful he is to have “anchors” in his own life, including family. Per TPM, here’s what happened next:

“Families are an important source of strength for the nation,” Romney told the crowd. “Rick Santorum is fond of reminding us of the study that was carried out by the Brookings Institution where they looked at the qualities that were the best predictors of happiness and in this case financial wherewithal.”

Romney ticked off the familiar points from Santorum’s reading of the study easily recalled by anyone who followed Santorum’s primary campaign. The chance at poverty is lessened dramatically, Romney said, if people have “had the chance to be married,” graduated from high school and “whether they ever, one time, took a job.”

“If they did those three things, the likelihood of them falling into poverty was only two percent,” Romney said.

The unintended Darwinian subtext: If Romney believes that gays and lesbians lack the right to marry, he has — by his own admission and with eyes wide open — condemned perhaps four percent of the Americans to poverty.

Maybe this calculation is simply an extension of the ethos that made Romney such a success at Bain: In order for the country to turn a profit, as it were, the rights of millions and of gays and lesbians will have to be “downsized.”


  • DAY on June 17, 2012 10:04 AM:

    In Olden Times- AKA the Days of Yore- candidates traveled from town to town on horseback, and later by that accursed, foul smelling, noisy contraption known as the "motorcar".
    And they were able to deliver very different speeches to very different audiences.

    Today, some still do that, unawares of the telegraph and teh internets.

  • dp on June 17, 2012 10:07 AM:

    What use is an anchor while water-skiing?

  • c u n d gulag on June 17, 2012 10:17 AM:

    Yes, because a secure loving same sex couple, who want a child, and care for that child, nurture that child, raise that child, and educate that child, are nowhere near as good as a married couple of opposite sexes, who have little or no education, few jobs prospects, and can't afford, and don't want, to raise a child.

    Because the most important thing is that the couple be of opposite sexes, not their desire to raise that child, or the where-with-all to do so.

  • Rugosa on June 17, 2012 10:53 AM:

    Ah, yes, the wherewithal problem. Maybe if we cut taxes on the rich some more, the public schools will improve and jobs will rain out of the sky.

  • internet tough guy on June 17, 2012 11:09 AM:

    Personally, I would be hesitant to use a dead kid like this, but for Mitt and his audience, I suppose it's as close to humanizing as they can get.

  • Kathryn on June 17, 2012 11:24 AM:

    This is the best story Romney can conjure up, lame to say the least. What a severely weird individual with a severely challenged campaign staff, they are just flat out awful.

  • JR on June 17, 2012 11:38 AM:

    Seriously, can anyone name one - yes, just one - neighborhood where the economy went downhill once gays moved in?

  • biggerbox on June 17, 2012 12:14 PM:

    I'm so confused. It's really hard to keep up with the interpretation of right-wing parables.

    Why isn't the lesson of the drowned boy that in a free society, we take care of ourselves, and if you don't have proper water-safety training and make sure you have proper equipment, that's your choice in a free America?

    Or even that the tragedy shows what happens when a kid is raised in the nanny-state belief that the government will keep him safe, and foolishly goes water-skiing without a proper crew and safety equipment?

    Is there some dog-whistle I'm missing? Is there a right-wing custom about how you have to introduce your spiel about the importance of family with a dead or dying child story, or something?

  • joanneinDenver on June 17, 2012 12:32 PM:

    You know, not everything is about gays.

    I read the story quite differently.
    It is an attack on unmarried motherhood and an attack on "welfare" that discourages marriage and supports "immorality." Santorium linked this all to artificial birth control - yes, that was difficult to follow-but basically the conservative argument is that premarital sex is wrong and that sex should be within marriage and only for procreation. Any government policy that is contrary to those beliefs encourages the downfall of the nation.

  • golack on June 17, 2012 12:56 PM:

    I'm with Joanne on this one...What's really scary is that the POG's take a report and switch "predictors" with "causality". Someone who does not have a job is more likely to be poor (Mitt, who everyone knows in unemployed, is an exception). For the POG's, it's because the person did not take a job. The reality is that there are no jobs available, especially for young minority men. Kill off summer jobs programs--that's gov't taking away your freedom. Maybe if we got rid of minimum wage--and eliminate welfare too? How about just not paying them--then deporting them if they complain?
    And make sure that if you can not eliminate welfare entirely, that the money only goes to the truly needed, e.g. single mom. If the father is in the picture--it's his job to care for the family, not the gov't. Then complain that the gov't is breaking up families.

  • TCinLA on June 17, 2012 1:44 PM:

    Given that the morons who attend F&F conventions are stupid enough to still believe in confessed con artist little Ralphie Reed, they'll have no trouble believing in the awesomeness of demonstrated idiot R-money.

  • exlibra on June 17, 2012 1:52 PM:

    The really ironic thing is that the study that Santorum -- and now Mittt after him -- was so fond of quoting stated, explicitly, that having a two parent -- of *any combination of sexes* -- family was better for the children (vis-a-vis success in adult life) than having a one parent family.

    Naturally, Santorum excised that bit from his talking points, because it didn't fit his thesis (which, as Joanne in Denver says, was that single parenthood, a result of unbridled extra-marital sex, is *bad, bad, bad*). Mitt probably didn't even read the study, and is just parroting Santorum.

  • jlt on June 17, 2012 3:03 PM:

    This is the same guy that took a $77,000 tax deduction for his wifes horse expenses to avoid Income taxes in 2010!
    What a blindingly ambitious and disaffected fraud..He no more cares about the American people than the man in the moon..this is about personal power and profit!

  • Crissa on June 17, 2012 4:14 PM:

    I always wonder how obtuse they can be.

    It's almost as if they took a survey of birthdays and found that birthdays had cake, and came to the solution that if you sought cake you'd more likely to have a birthday. Or that people who have more than one minimum wage job make less money than people who only have one non-minimum wage job.

    Of course those who have jobs and marriages are more happy and less poor. You seek out marriage when you're happy and jobs provide money, which helps you not be poor.

    Who do they imagine there's someone out there saying people would be less poor, with less jobs?

  • Doug on June 17, 2012 5:36 PM:

    How can a person think he/she is better than other people if one doesn't ensure that those other people suffer?
    Christian? Not effing likely!

  • rea on June 18, 2012 9:25 AM:

    Just imagine Romney watershiing--First, drop the anchor, then . . .

  • jpeckjr on June 18, 2012 9:41 AM:

    The use of the Brookings study can serve several purposes, including the one Joanne cites. Romney used it in his Liberty University address to support one man / one woman marriage. This study has sound methodology and findings.

    As I understand it, the study found if a teenager wants to have a better financial future (avoid poverty), he or she should postpone having a child, finish high school, and get work experience while still a teenager.

    Another interpretation is that pregnancy before graduating from high school increases the likelihood that a teenager will not finish high school or gain work experience because he or she (probably she) is taking care of a child.

    What public policies would those findings support? Sex education (including abstinence as an option), contraception, abortions, adoption promotion, funding public schools, dropout prevention programs, and youth job programs.

    Instead, Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum use it to oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples. Because, you know, no opposite-sex married couples anywhere in the United States are living in poverty.

  • joanneinDenver on June 19, 2012 11:35 AM:

    There is another delicate issue in the these findings. I don't know how to discuss it without appearing to be prejudiced. Let me try. Let me begin by saying that I believe every child deserves a public school education and has the right to be educated according to the best practices appropriate to their level of intellectual functioning. Prior to 1974, public schools routinely excluded students who, in the terms of those days, were mentally retarded. Some such students functioned at a relatively high level and would not be immediately identified as retarded by the general public. After federal legislation in the 70s,
    all students, regardless of disability, were entitled to a public school education in the "least restrictive environment."

    Many of these students are in special ed classes; many are not. I believe that within this group of "special needs students" are young women who contribute to the statistics of unmarried motherhood and its disastrous consequences.
    I believe that these young women have low esteem because they are not able to perform at the same level of their peers. This makes them very vulnerable to any kind of attention or affection. I believe that they may very well not understand the consequences of sexual activity, may not understand how to obtain and use birth control effectively, and may not even know that they are pregnant. Even without a child, these young women would have difficulty obtaining the kind of job that would allow them to be self-supporting.

    Because of these factors, I believe that these young women contribute to the kind of statistics described in the Brookings report. The strategy for dealing with this kind of problem is different than the remedies suggested for young women of average intelligence.