“..Almost a decade ago, then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivered a State of the Commonwealth address in which he struck a now familiar pose.
Here was the tough-minded leader come to deliver fiscal discipline.
Yet even as he proposed substantial budget cuts, he included a rhetorical nod that now stands out as a reminder of how much he and his party have changed.
“When it comes to caring for the poor, the disabled and the elderly,” Romney said, “Massachusetts is one of the most generous states in the nation.
And despite facing the worst fiscal crisis in a generation – we will stay one of the most generous.”
Lest you are tempted to brush this off as an anomalous quote from a then-moderate governor of the state that produced Ted Kennedy, consider Ronald Reagan’s words as he accepted the Republican nomination for president in 1980.
Tucked into a speech mostly devoted to pledges to trim the government, he added this: “We Republicans believe it is essential that we maintain both the forward momentum of economic growth – and the strength of the safety net beneath those in society who need help.”
We are unlikely to hear similar words from Romney this week as he takes the podium at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., to accept his own nomination for the presidency.
Not unless he is inclined to risk being hauled from the stage by the mob of ideological extremists who have captured his party.
In the modern-day Republican camp – a tribe that would have cast out Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and even Reagan as namby-pamby liberals -
- disdain for the poor is embraced as a virtue -
- a signifier that sentimentality will not get in the way of dismantling the social safety net.
People who depend upon the aid of the government via food stamps, unemployment checks and mortgage relief are typically written off as parasites and losers.
(Meanwhile, corporations that depend upon government largess for bailouts and subsidies are celebrated as paragons of free enterprise, but that’s another matter.)..”
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