Hi Ave it
Your faith in the overall moderacy of the British electorate is comendable, and you may be right about more significant extremes in the US but I feel uncomfortable labelling such without first hand knowledge myself. Besides, it’s often convenient to label a variety of singular issue groups into a wider box, linking several what you might call right wing issues together, and thus creating the stereotypical religious, gun toting, homophobic antiprogressive redneck.
My contention is that even if we accept each of those positions singularly, there is likely to be significant spectrums of opinion within them. For instance, some may fundimentally believe in their constitutional right to bear arms, and so would vote against legislation to curb firearms, yet they themselves wouldn’t dream of carrying a gun.
With regard to Romney’s statement, I believe he was playing to the gallery of republican supporters in that room, and though his choice of words were crude they were probably an accurate assessment of the campaign demographic as he saw it. I’ve repeated it below as the opening sentence ads context.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what," Romney said in the video. "There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."
"Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax," Romney said, and that his role "is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
He does say his aim is not to worry about the 47 percent in the context of the election because he realises those votes are lost to him. He does not say that if elected he will stop their benefits. If it gives insight into Romney as a person I would agree, he seems out of touch, even heartless, but like so many Politicians the world over, he is addressing a specific audience and wants their backing. In short he’s going to say what they want to hear, and as someone else said presidential reality is likely to be somewhat different from pre election rhetoric.
It's worth noting that he has now admitted he was wrong.
As for finding it shocking, no, not really. I find the abduction of children shocking, the killing of innocents for their beliefs, no matter of what race or religion—shocking, 40 million pounds to put right the train license fiasco—shocking, old people dying in poverty, or defensless and vulnerable people abused by their carers—shocking, Catholic priests abusing kids—shocking, Bankers bonuses, murder of police, Malaria, world poverty etc. etc. In short, there’s plenty in this world to be shocked about even in this country let alone world wide that Romney’s statement, even if he himself believes it barely registers. If elected, and I doubt if he will be, I’ll judge him on his actions rather than his words.
You mention about America leading from the rear, yet it’s notable that Obama’s first international speech in Cairo was a pro-active one to engage with and work alongside the Muslim world. In doing so he was aiming to build bridges after the blunders of the Bush regime:
“I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Very laudable, and in truth, very necessary long term. However, currently it is not reciprocated with many Islamic clerics and scholars calling for the destruction of America and the west on an almost daily basis. During the Egyptian demonstrations it was Obama that insisted Mubarak resign, so in a sense he was instrumental in regime change at the forefront of the Arab Spring. Today, the Syrian Government accused the west of arming the insurgents, and attempting the overthrow of the regime by whatever means (are we now aiding terrorists against a state where previously Muslims, Alawites, Christians and Druze lived side by side respecting each others beliefs and customs?). These same insurgents have been responsible for many atrocities blamed on the Syrian regime. Our reporters simply reported what they were told by the rebels, In one instance, the truth that the murder victims were Alowites massacred by the same rebels were uncoverd by a German news agency later.
Finally, my dig at the BBC is born out of frustration at that organisations need to opinion form, rather than just report the news. Plus, there are issues they refuse to cover which I find unacceptable for a public service broadcaster. Despite, their claim to 'being there on the ground as it happens', the BBC will ignore mass slaughter if the victims are Christian, in doing this they help sweep under the carpet much evil that is happening in the world including the massacres and church bombings in Nigeria and a seven year campaign of ethnic cleansing in Indonesia both against Christians and now Ahmadi Muslims. May be it was a cheap shot, but I believe evil has to be confronted and exposed for what it is, and I find this turning a blind eye shocking.