I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.:
Part I: Warmup: Family Man, and America on the Wrong Track:
Romney starts with his warmup: he seeks to identify himself to this very friendly and enthusiastic audience of big donors as a trustable family fan, and then to segue from that into concern for the long-run future of America--and into concern for the track America is on, which he sees as one of decline.
He doesn't want to make any enemies here.
Thus he passes over in silence over the question of whether the decline he sees in America is one of short standing (since Obama's election in 2008), of medium standing (since GWB's election in 2000), of medium-long standing (since Bill Clinton's election in 1992), or of even longer standing than that--extending even back into the days of St. Ronald, or the days of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, or even started with the retirement of Calvin Coolidge. Different segments in his audience have different views of this. And so he wants to keep the diagnosis vague and imprecise: "wrong track" is safe, but anything else risks his audience quarreling with itself or with him as to what, exactly, the right track is.
We do see here one difference between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats' "wrong track" rhetoric does not, as a rule, say that the fact that America is on the wrong track is in any sense an existential threat to the country. The arc of the universe does, after all, tend toward justice. There are no defeats, only delayed successes.
Republicans are, by contrast, much more apocalyptic in a not-good way. They do see the fact that America is on the wrong track as an existential threat to its purity of essence.. For them, unless Republicans are elected America will in some sense cease to be itself. And that cessation of being itself will come soon.
This framework of thought and these habits of rhetoric are one thing that has, I think, powerfully fueled the rise of Trump: "make America great again". Democrats here that, and think: "WTF!? America is great, and will be yet greater." But given all the Democrats who have been pushing the country down the wrong track--Obama, Clinton, Carter, LBJ, JFK, Truman, Roosevelt, Wilson, and that triangulating bastard Grover Cleveland, it is no surprise to Republican voters to be told that America is not great. How could it be, after so many elections that they were told posed existential threats to the purity of essence of the country?
* Romney:* ...And I guess everybody here is a dignitary, and I appreciate your help. And by the way, I am serious about the food. Bring that... clear the place, but Hilary has to eat her beets... [Audience laughs.] I'm gonna—because the table is small enough and the room is intimate enough, I'd like to spend our time responding to questions you have, listening to advice you might have.
Occasionally, as I did just a moment ago, I get envelopes like that, which is, and I'll open this and there'll be campaign ideas—"Why don't you talk about the following issues…"—so I'm happy to take advice and then we can all vote on it, whether it's a good piece of advice or bad advice. And so we'll get a chance to do that, but I'm looking to get your perspectives.
Just to tell you a couple of things you may not know about me. You probably know that I'm father of five and grandfather now of 18—my oldest son just had twins just last week, and so our grandchild nest is getting larger, and they're a source of great joy. When I was probably halfway through my career at Bain Consulting, I met with a lawyer to draft a will, and she said, "How do you want to divide what estate you might eventually have?" And I said—I didn't have anything at that point—I said, "I want to divide it equally among my five sons." And she said, "Well, how much will you want to give to the grandchildren that they will ultimately have," and I said, "Well, I don't want to give anything to the grandchildren—I'll give it to the sons, and they in turn will give it to their children as needed." And she said, "You'll change your mind." And I said, "No, I don't think so." So I saw her not long ago, and I said, "I don't want to give anything to my sons, I want to give it [to all to my grandchildren.] [Audience laughs.]
Romney: This, uh, it's not as…
Audience Member: This is my daughter. [More laughter.]
Romney: It's not just because I love my grandchildren, as I do, and I love my sons and [unintelligible], it's that I'm very concerned about what the nation is gonna be like over the coming decade or two. And I really do...