Well, we all know that Mitt Romney is a gentleman. Now we also know that Mitt has a keen grasp of the Southern-style, genteel insult, which tends to leave its victim so utterly confused that he simply cannot defend himself.
“It is free men and women that drive our economy. Freedom is what makes America work. And President Obama, bless his heart, has tried to substitute government for free people-and it has not worked, and it will never work[.]” (Emphasis mine.)
For anyone outside the South, who may need an accurate translation, allow me to enlighten you.
The phrase “bless your heart” is known throughout the South as the worst, most insulting, most buried-under-sweet-sounding-rhetorical-sugar phrase possible. What we mean, when we say it, is that the object of our pronouncement could not be more the imbecile if he were working hard at the task.
This person is so completely hopeless that only God can come to his rescue with protective blessings. Otherwise, the poor fool is doomed to be a victim of his never-ending shots at his own two feet.
But because the insult is delivered in an offhand or sweet-sounding tone, it creates a state of disabling confusion in its victim.
In this particular instance, Mitt Romney delivered one of the most brilliant rhetorical juxtapositions I’ve ever witnessed: his own love of individual liberty versus Obama’s love of big government. Romney proclaimed his own unwavering fealty for American freedom, inserted the “bless his heart” insult, and then, without missing a beat, came down with the hammer that nails Barack Obama to a T: “he has tried to substitute government for free people — and it has not worked, and it will never work.” (Emphasis mine.)