Growing up in a big family on a perpetual austerity program, I learned that anyone who grabbed the last pork chop got an automatic, sneering denunciation: "So, you got yours, huh, the hell with the rest of us!"
That's precisely what I thought when Mitt Romney told a bunch of rich donors that he doesn't care about the 47 percent of the U.S. population who don't pay federal taxes. Why should he? He's got his, and so did everyone in that fancy room in Florida.
It's just another infuriating moment from a man who grew up in wealth, is now worth about $250 million, pays a 15 percent rate on his capital gains and who's joked that he's known hardship his horse didn't win a medal at the London Olympics.
Cry me a river. Romney uses the term "entitlements" for low-income and elderly people as if it's a curse. He should look in the mirror and recognize that he's one of the most entitled men in the country.
On Tuesday, the Republican presidential nominee was back in Utah and among his conservative kin. He raked in $1.5 million to $2 million in campaign donations from the same kind of people he talked to in Boca Raton those willing and able to spend $1,000 or $25,000 apiece to be at his appearances.
They are, after all, the kind of people Romney's comfortable with. It struck me as I watched the video taken in Florida that Romney spoke easily, conversationally, which is at odds with his usually strained delivery to everyday people.
As for the tax issue, I'm thinking about people I know who'll never be as wealthy as Romney or running mate Paul Ryan. People who work hard and pay taxes, if not on income, on sales, excise, property and payroll, which helps fund Social Security and Medicare.
Many are, like those Romney excoriated, seniors on fixed incomes and people who earn less than $20,000 a year. Can he, owner of a beachfront house with car elevators, even imagine such hardship?
Evidently not. As he said, "My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."
Much has been made about Romney's good works for people in his Boston area Mormon ward, where he served as bishop. It's time for him to ditch the blinders and see that 47 percent for who they are: human beings who simply need a little help to get by.
That, not dismissive rhetoric and frantic backpedaling, should be what compassionate conservatism is all about.
Peg McEntee is a news columnist. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook.com/pegmcentee and Twitter, @pegmcentee.