They couldn't even be convinced to take care of themselves, as long as they can get government handouts. Romney thinks that applies to almost one in two Americans. Or to put it bluntly: the real crime of 47 percent of Americans is their laziness - and then they have the gall to whine about the One Percent. He is using the key argument of racists against African-Americans through the ages against 47 percent of the country. That's the equivalent of calling a lot of old white people the n-word.
Romney's Randian callousness also goes against the core American grain. Americans do not see themselves as victims, but as potential winners, even in rough times. Romney's contempt for the 47 percent violates a central tenet of the American dream: anyone can make it. Romney is saying that half the country can't make it, don't even want to make it, and are parasites on the rest. Asking for their vote would be like asking children to give up their toys. Why would they?
More to the point: this was a cynical man with a cynical tone different - and more convincing - than his usual stilted public speech. The best defense of it - morally - is that it was designed for an audience of super-rich donors who say these things all the time in private, listen to Rush Limbaugh, and needed to be ginned up. He is whatever he needs to be for each separate audience. He aims to please.
So there are two possibilities: this is the real Romney, a callous cynic with contempt for half the country, the weaker part; or that Romney is a man so empty of human qualities he even has to fake cynicism.