Eliot Weinberger in London Review of Books:
The racial message was clear enough to those eating their $50,000 dinners in Boca Raton, but broadcast into the larger and somewhat more reality-based world it took on another meaning. The vast majority of the 47 per cent (actually 46 per cent) are white and nearly all are extremely poor people or the retired elderly who are living off their savings and Social Security or the disabled (including veterans) or students or soldiers serving in combat zones (who don’t pay taxes – no wonder Mitt didn’t mention those spongers at the convention). Among those who pay ‘no income tax’ – meaning federal taxes – almost all pay state and local taxes, and payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare). Some pay property taxes; everyone pays sales taxes. The states with the highest number of 47-percenters traditionally vote Republican. ‘Those people’, in other words, include quite a few potential Romney voters – many of whom, one imagines, are now former potential Romney voters. Television has gone round-the-clock with tales of honorable people who found themselves in hard times and needed temporary help, including – it is perfect – the young George Romney, Mitt’s sainted Dad, before he made his millions. Trying to follow Republican logic can often induce vertigo. Mitt prides himself on his tax-avoidance skills, and thousands of 1-percenters (including six known multibillionaires) pay no federal taxes at all, thanks to their elaborate systems of loopholes and tax shelters, most of them legislated by Republicans. The Ryan budget proposes to eliminate entirely nearly all the taxes that the mega-rich pay. But, in the Mittopian universe, where the rich shouldn’t have to pay any taxes, the poor who don’t pay taxes are a bunch of moochers.
Romney will never recover from Mouse Mouth, but there is something sinister that will linger on. The primary word that the right is using to characterise the 47 per cent, and the left is using to characterise the characterisation, is ‘parasite’. As Mary Matalin, an omnipresent Republican talking head, put it on CNN: ‘There are makers and takers, there are producers and there are parasites.’ Tens of millions will vote for Romney and many of them will be believers in this myth. Perhaps it’s worth remembering the last time a large segment of a population was vilified as parasites: Der Jude als Weltparasit (‘The Jew as World Parasite’). These things tend to stick.