Just about everyone, including me, has had something to say about Mitt Romney's "47%" statement to a bunch of fatcat donors, but there is one tiny point that struck me especially hard, and has not been commented on at all. To get the full flavor of this, it is not enough to read the transcript of the remarks, devastating though they are. One must actually listen to the intonation of Romney's voice at each point in the recording.
A "tell" is what serious poker players call that unconscious and revelatory bit of behavior that can be used to tell whether a bettor is bluffing -- see John Malkovich and Matt Damon in the great all night poker game in Rounders [Malkovich's tell is that he separates the two halves of an Oreo cookie and licks the filling off one of them. Malkovich, always a treat, is spectacular as Teddy KGB.] More broadly, a tell is any bit of behavior that gives us a window into someone's true beliefs or point of view.
The moment of revelation for me comes during the passage in which Romney says "All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon the
government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe the government
has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to
healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it."
You cannot tell this from the transcript, but as Romney says "who believe that they are entitled to healthcare ..." his voice rises sharply on the word "entitled." There is incredulity in his voice, a sense of personal affront. The tone of his voice clearly communicates something like this: "Can you believe it? They have the colossal nerve to think that they are entitled to food, or healthcare, etc." This is the voice of a noble whose robe has just been brushed by the dirty foot of a commoner. It is the voice of an aristocrat in whose presence a serf has not tugged his forelock or doffed his cap. It is not anger, exactly. Rather it is an expression of disbelief that one of the lower orders could so completely violate the natural order of things as to presume to think that he has any entitlement at all to anything.
Google the remarks and listen to them again, and you will, I think, hear what I mean.