COLUMN: Romney's "gaffes" blown out of proportion
Mitt Romney’s presidential run has been a long string of gaffes, each worse than the last, that have revealed him to be snobby and cold-hearted.
At least, that’s the narrative some Democrats are trying to sell. It’s intuitive and it fits well in the context of President Barack Obama’s anti-plutocrat rhetoric. The only flaw in the narrative is that it happens to be a lie.
Contrary to reports, Romney’s “gaffes” have not been significant. Many of them shouldn’t even be classified gaffes.
To see what I mean, let’s look at two of Romney’s most infamous “gaffes”— the “I like to fire people” gaffe and the “$10,000 bet” gaffe.
The “I like to fire people” gaffe has its origins in a talk Romney gave during a campaign stop. He was telling people he appreciated the freedom to fire employees who weren’t doing a good job.
There was nothing radical about this talk. I bet $1 million most people actually would agree with Romney on this point. Why should you be forced to pay someone for a service they can’t competently provide?
The Obama camp decided to disregard this nuance, instead lifting a specific quote from Romney’s speech — “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me” — and airing it out of context for all to gasp and jeer at.
If that’s not dishonest, I don’t know what is.
Now let’s turn to the “$10,000 bet” gaffe. It originates from a bet Romney offered to Texas Governor Rick Perry during a debate. He bet Perry $10,000 that he couldn’t find a particular passage in his book praising individual mandates.
Obama supporters pounced on this comment, claiming it showed Romney was out of touch with the average American. After all, they said, no middle-class citizen would ever bet $10,000 on a whim.
This reasoning is clearly flawed because average Americans bet money like this all the time. I myself bet readers $1 million a few paragraphs ago, and I don’t even have $100 in my bank account at the moment.
It’s a common rhetorical technique to bet a large sum of money just to show someone you’re confident about being right. It’s not at all snobbish, and to pretend otherwise is to purposefully interpret the comment a dishonest way.
Like the two “gaffes” I’ve dissected in this column, I think many of those attributed to Romney are fraudulent. While perhaps one or two of them actually do say something about Romney as a person, I’m fairly confident the others amount to nothing but ambiguous language and irrelevant quips.
It’s time for Romney haters and liberal news organizations to straighten up. Stop this childish twisting of words and manipulation of sound bytes. Grow up.
Steven Zoeller is a journalism junior.