September 19th, 2012
01:10 AM ET

Letters to the President #1338: 'A slip of the tongue...or maybe not'

Reporter's Note: I write to President Obama every single day. I could write twice a day, but that would be excessive.

Dear Mr. President,

Such a storm blew through D.C. this afternoon! Did you see it? Heavy rain, whipping winds; I think I saw a couple of Congressmen blow past my window, and I’m on the ninth floor! Ha!

Still, that was nothing compared to the buffeting your pal Mitt Romney is taking. This comment he made about how 47 percent of Americans are going to vote for you because they depend on government, and see themselves as “victims,” and yadda yadda yadda, seems to be setting the chattering class on fire.

Of course some of your Democratic buddies seem convinced this is “Goodbye Mr. Blue Chips” for the Republican challenger. To them it is just patently offensive to talk about anyone who must depend on the government as somehow less admirable than anyone else; and for a candidate to say such a thing out loud is just begging for an electoral smack down from insulted voters far and wide.

Be careful how much you listen to your friends on this. Remember, substantial numbers of Americans (polls would suggest a majority) may be more willing to buy into Mr. Romney’s version of things that Democrats may think. I was reading a poll earlier today that suggests a solid majority of voters suspect that some people are relying too easily on government help rather than their own initiative. Now how deep or wide that sentiment runs, I could not tell. But it is there none the less. And if those people (especially the middle voters) start thinking not that Romney is callous, but rather that he is willing to address a painful truth about the growth of entitlements, then you may find his problem has suddenly become yours.

I don’t think it is likely. The Romney campaign has not proven particularly skilled at turning such moments around to their favor, but it is not impossible. And this is almost certain: This statement of his that has captured so many headlines, undoubtedly is playing to different audiences in different ways; and Democrats had best beware of the wishful thinking that says “everyone will agree with us on this one!”

Assuming the storm didn’t flood your basement, give me a call tonight. I’m around. Btw, did you watch Monday Night Football? That was one very long game…


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