Mitt Romney now admits he "misspoke" in saying he was not concerned about the very poor. Ron Paul, one of Romney's few defenders, says that if we could look into Romney's heart we would not find that he cares nothing for poor people. This is among the more disturbing signs of Dr. Paul's weirdness I have come across. In the first place, we cannot look into a man's heart and probably should not wish to. In the second place, politicians do not have the metaphorical heart that is supposed to care about others. The very definition of a politician is an egomaniac who will tell any lie to get elected.
What Ron Paul should have said is that Mitt Romney never meant to reveal his indifference to the suffering of other people. I am sure this is true, and if we look closer at his language, we can see exactly what he meant to say. "Concern" is an ambiguous, if not a dodgy word. Its primary meaning meaning is something like "be related to to, involved in." As in "this book concerns the Franco-Prussian War." A derived meaning is to care about. All Romney meant to say was that in thinking about economic policies, he was not primarily addressing himself to welfare dependents who were taken care of by the government but to working class and middle class people who were slipping between the cracks, that is, to the class of people who have been badly hurt by the Bush and Obama administrations and their policies.
The fact that a scoundrel like Newt Gingrich could make hay out of this in the press tells us more, perhaps, than we need to know, both about Gingrich himself and about the literacy of the press. It also tells us something about Romney who, even in defense of his career and his ego, could not come up with a coherent explanation of his harmless gaffe.
Thomas Fleming is the former editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of The Politics of Human Nature, Montenegro: The Divided Land, and The Morality of Everyday Life, named Editors' Choice in philosophy by Booklist in 2005. He is the coauthor of The Conservative Movement and the editor of Immigration and the American Identity. He holds a Ph.D. in classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Rockford Institute, he taught classics at the University of Miami of Ohio, served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, and was headmaster at the Archibald Rutledge Academy. He has been published in, among others, The Spectator (London), Independent on Sunday (London), Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, Classical Journal, Telos, and Modern Age. He and his wife, Gail, have four children and four grandchildren.