MITT ROMNEY: Anger Over Wealth Distribution Is All About ‘Envy’

From yesterday’s ‘Today show’, check out this rather extraordinary exchange between Mitt Romney and Matt Lauer.

Short version: Romney is essentially saying the OWS movement, and furthermore any questions about wealth inequality, are motivated by envy.

MATT LAUER: When you said that we already have a leader who divides us with the bitter politics of envy, I’m curious about the word envy. Did you suggest that anyone who questions the policies and practices of Wall Street and financial institutions, anyone who has questions about the distribution of wealth and power in this country, is envious? Is it about jealousy, or fairness?

ROMNEY: You know, I think it’s about envy. I think it’s about class warfare.  When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on 99 per cent versus one per cent, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one per cent, you have opened up a wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God. The American people, I believe in the final analysis, will reject it.

LAUER: Are there no fair questions about the distribution of wealth without it being seen as envy, though?

ROMNEY: I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms and discussions about tax policy and the like. But the president has made it part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach and I think it will fail.

Unhappy about the Wall St. bailout?  You must be envious!

As Greg Sargent notes this clip could be far more damaging in the long run than his “I like to fire people” gaffe.  Moreover it feels similar to that moment in an October GOP debate when Romney exclaimed “I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake!  I can’t have illegals working for me!” in so far as it is one of those rare times Romney reveals what he actually thinks.  

Meanwhile, one imagines he could not have made a better attack ad for the Obama campaign if he had been hired by them to do so. Mash up some clips of the people in Newt Gingrich’s Bain documentary who lost their jobs as a result of Bain’s involvement with this Romney clip and you’d have a pretty deadly campaign ad.