Mike Kueber's Blog

July 31, 2012

Romney’s most excellent overseas adventure and Murphy’s Law

Filed under: Issues,Media,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 3:40 pm
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Romney’s three-day overseas adventure resulted in three international incidents.  According to USA Today, “Romney insulted the British with his critique of their readiness for the Olympics and angered Palestinians with comments comparing their economy with that of Israelis. His press aide lost his cool today and cursed at reporters during a visit to Poland’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”  More specifically, the incidents were as follows:

  • Disconcerted.  Romney said he was disconcerted by some of the British preparations for security at the London Olympics.
  • Cultural differences.  Romney credited Israel’s culture for its thriving economy that contrasted starkly with that of the lagging economy of its neighbor Palestine.
  • Kiss my ass.  Romney’s spokesman told a reporter who complained that Romney was not providing the traveling reporters with enough access. 

According to advice books on running for elective office, a campaign should never assume that the so-called free media is going to advance your fundamental, substantive themes.  Instead the media is going to advance its storyline, with an emphasis on trashy and superficial stories before finally sinking into the horse-race analogy of who is winning; sort of a Murphy’s Law for campaigns.

The Romney trip is a perfect example of that.  The trip was smartly designed to highlight Romney’s economic and political philosophy by traveling to nations with kindred spirits.  As Romney said near the end of the trip:

  • It’s been a trip to three places far apart on the map.  But for an American, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you can in these places.  Our nations belong to the great fellowship of democracies.  We speak the same language of freedom and justice. We uphold the right of every person to live in peace.”

With respect to Poland, Romney certainly found a kindred spirit when “a Polish leader told him during his visit that his country’s economic philosophy is, ‘You don’t borrow what you can’t pay back.’”  Romney responded: 

  • Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade and live within its means.  Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.” 

But the media isn’t interested in presenting Romney’s campaign theme.  They would rather report that the British, Palestinians, and traveling reporters are in a snit over various comments.  They might even try to elevate the significance and dignity of their snits by asserting that the insignificant incidents reveal a significant fact – namely, Romney is not ready for prime time.

I don’t blame the media for their bad reporting, just as I don’t blame the politicians for their bad voting.  We get the media and the politicians that we deserve.  We will get good reporting when choose to watch it, just as we will get good politicians when we choose to vote for them.

Media bias, however, does occasionally play a role when there is a golden-boy candidate.  When I ran for Congress in 2010, the local media went out of its way to advance the candidacy of its golden-boy candidate, and he almost won.  In 2008, most of the media loved Obama’s candidacy and helped his campaign advance its storyline. 

Exceptions that prove the rule, in my opinion.