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Mitt speaks the truth: Media condemn as gaffes Romney's honest statements on foreign policy
The New York Daily News ^ | August 7, 2012 | James Kirchick

Posted on 08/07/2012 6:24:31 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

Before Mitt Romney even stepped back onto American soil, the media had already concluded that his overseas trip was “gaffe-prone.”

This narrative reached its peak at the end of Romney’s weeklong jaunt to Britain, Israel and Poland, when, following a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, the traveling press corps began shouting at the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as he walked back to his car.

“What about your gaffes?” one of the journalists bayed.

“He’s the prince of verbal pratfalls, overseas and at home,” Democratic political consultant Bob Shrum wrote in the Daily Beast.

Such conclusions are as mistaken as they are predictable. Democrats and the mainstream media (the boundary between the two becomes increasingly blurry whenever we approach an election) love to portray Republican candidates as provincial rubes. Nevermind that Romney, unlike President Obama, actually speaks a foreign language and has extensive overseas business experience.

The herdlike mentality of the campaign press mandates that once an easily repeatable meme has taken hold — in this case, that Romney’s visit abroad was replete with “verbal pratfalls” — most journalists will simply repeat a subjective opinion as if it were proven fact.

So what did Romney actually say that the press deems to have been so egregious?

To be sure, the incident that sparked the narrative can reasonably be categorized as a blunder, though hardly one of earth-shattering proportions.

Asked by NBC in London about his views on that city’s preparations for the Olympics, which had been threatened by a possible strike of immigration officials and a lack of adequate security personnel, the one-time CEO of the Salt Lake City games responded that, “There are a few things that were disconcerting.”

This was undiplomatic, to be sure, and a “gaffe” in the sense that it was a truth that a politician isn’t supposed to utter, as Michael Kinsley once famously defined the word. But in terms of offending British sensibilities, it hardly rises to the level of returning a bust of Winston Churchill or stating that, “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world,” as President Obama and one of his anonymous State Department officials, respectively, have done.

While Romney’s chiding British organizational capabilities earned him the wrath of Fleet Street, it was his remarks in Israel that proved most contentious. In a speech last Monday in Jerusalem, Romney noted the wide gulf in GDP between Israel and the Palestinian territories, concluding that Israeli economic success was largely due to “culture.” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat immediately assailed Romney as a “racist,” complaining that, “This man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation.”

Again, the predictable media outcry in the wake of Romney’s candor obscured the fact that he was actually saying nothing incendiary. Indeed, aside from noting the low GDP, Romney didn’t utter anything about the Palestinian economy or culture. Moreover, his comments in Israel could have opened the way to a fascinating and productive debate about the role of culture in fostering prosperity.

As for those who rushed to criticize this remark as a display of Romney’s ignorance (or worse, bigotry), they should ask themselves whether the occupation itself — commenced in 1967 after an Arab War to annihilate Israel — is not (at least partly) a necessary result of Arab political culture.

Erekat and others act as if the occupation exists in a vacuum. To hear them tell it, one day, Israel just decided to impose military rule over an innocent and unsuspecting Palestinian population out of spite. But the conditions that led to the Israeli occupation — a religious extremism and rejectionism of Jewish statehood so extreme that they have repeatedly led to war — continue to thrive in Gaza and the West Bank today. It does the Palestinians and their friends in the West no good to pretend as if these social pathologies don’t exist.

Yet some in the media have gone out of their way to contort what Romney said to make him sound like the “racist” that Erekat irresponsibly accused him of being. One such writer for The Atlantic favorably contrasted Bill Clinton’s supposedly “very, very different take from Mitt Romney on Palestinian culture,” by citing a remark the former President made last year during a visit to Saudi Arabia: “Palestinians are a hardworking and an incredible community,” Clinton said. “They have done remarkably well outside their country. I have never met a poor Palestinian in the United States; every Palestinian I know is a college professor or a doctor.”

This statement says nothing about the culture of Palestinians as it is lived in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but rather attests to the unparalleled opportunities that the United States uniquely affords its immigrants, no matter where they come from. Clinton’s comment — a paean to American, not Palestinians or Arab culture — actually infers the opposite of what the Atlantic commentator thinks it does, by arguing that Palestinians do better in America than in the place of their birth. But by favorably comparing Clinton’s praise of the Palestinian-American work ethic to Romney’s praise of the Israeli one, the writer makes it sound as if the latter believes Palestinians to be inherently lazy and corrupt.

Barack Obama was feted like a rock star when he made a European tour in the summer of 2008, and one gets the sense that the media’s battering of Romney last week was a means to assuage the pain of a presidency that has failed to meet the enormous hopes expected of it.

That won’t work, though. This election will largely be decided by the candidates’ differing views on the economy, not foreign policy — and by November, most Americans will forget that Mitt Romney even made an overseas jaunt, nevermind the media-manufactured controversies surrounding the trip.

The reaction to his journey abroad did nothing so much as highlight the quadrennial disappointment of Democrats that foreigners cannot vote in American elections.


TOPICS: Campaign News; Issues
KEYWORDS: clinton; israel; obama; olympics; palestine; palestinians; romney
I'm sure they're working on that as we speak.
1 posted on 08/07/2012 6:24:38 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

To pathological liars (i.e., progressives/liberals), to tell the truth IS a gaffe! Telling the truth and holding a liberal world view are entirely incompatable.


2 posted on 08/07/2012 7:50:13 PM PDT by JustTheTruth
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