Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another Media Gaffe: Romney in Israel

Mitt Romney has been skewered by the mainstream media for a statement about Israel and the Palestinian Authority that is accepted as true by top economic historians and anyone with a little common sense. Perhaps Romney should have known better than to make an intellectual point before reporters, whose attention span and education are in short supply, to say the least.

Romney began his to-be-skewered remarks in Jerusalem with a statement of fact:

“And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel, which is about $21,000, and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality.” (He overstated the Palestinian figure, pointed out one jubilant critic, but the point remains the same).

Romney’s “gaffe” was to use Harvard economic historian, David Landes’s The Wealth and Poverty of Nations to explain the differences in “economic vitality” between Israel and its Arab neighbors he saw with his own eyes:  

“If you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.”

The Press buzzed with excitement: Did Romney actually say that Israel is successful and the Palestinian Authority is not because of cultural differences?  What an insult! Such a racist and bigot is not fit to be President! What an opportunity to build on the narrative that Romney is gaffe prone!

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