Whatever Mitt Romney says at tonight's debate about how much he cares about ordinary Americans and how good his policies will be for the American people, it will be heard through the filter of the now-infamous 47% video. When he thinks we can't hear him, he calls us parasites. Why should we believe his smooth-sounding reassurances at the debate?
But it's not just Romney himself whose credibility has been damaged: It's the entire anti-government pro-corporate movement that controls the Republican Party.
Since we aren't privy to their private conversations, we have a hard time coming up with hard evidence to prove that their bad policies have equally bad motives. They tell us that laws designed to suppress the vote are really designed to prevent voter fraud. They tell us that economic plans that funnel more and more of our nation's wealth to a tiny plutocracy are really designed to stimulate the economy. They tell us that plans to privatize essential government functions are designed to increase efficiency. They always have plausible deniability.
But with the exposure of Mitt Romney's 47% speech, the entire edifice of plausible deniability has collapsed. The one time we get behind closed doors – the one time we finally get to hear what far-right pro-corporate politicians and their wealthy donors say when they think Americans aren't listening – we hear the unvarnished truth: They don't like us, they don't respect us, and they certainly don't have our best interests at heart.
Romney's subsequent efforts to recover are unlikely to succeed, because voters recognize them as false. Everything Mitt Romney says in public is now seen through the filter of the 47% speech: We know what he really thinks, and it isn't what he says in public. So whatever he says at the debate will just add to the feeling that he cannot be trusted.
We are witnessing Romney's "Katrina moment."
George W. Bush's response while New Orleans was flooding was a wake-up moment for the American people. His credibility evaporated, never to return. As a result, his televised speech from Jackson Square in a darkened and devastated New Orleans was widely recognized as being for show.
Similarly, last week's talk-to-the-camera ad, where Romney tells us how much he cares about the same people he denigrated in secret, just smells of desperation.
But it's not just Romney: It's a "Katrina Moment" for a Republican Party that has increasingly come under the thrall of extremist anti-government pro-corporate forces. In the video, the wealthy donors – Romney and the GOP's financial backbone – didn't exactly push back against his heartfelt speech characterizing half the country as parasites. In fact, in May (when the video was made), Romney outraised Obama, as he did in June and July. Romney clearly knew his audience and inspired them to give in record amounts.
The corporate right has pulled out the stops to get Romney elected. They clearly have no problem with his secretly-uttered contempt for a substantial portion of the American people. So when we see those ubiquitous political ads funded by the likes of Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS or the Koch Brothers' Americans For Prosperity, we should know that the last thing these organizations and their corporate funders have in mind is the welfare of the average American.