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Despite Media Pile-On, Romney Isn’t Toast


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So while some of us were celebrating the Jewish New Year and taking the last couple of days off from politics, it appears a video has more or less decided the election.

That’s the assumption of much of the mainstream media about the impact of the release of the video of Mitt Romney speaking back in May at a private fundraiser about the 47 percent of the country that doesn’t pay taxes. They think this means it’s time to put a fork in the Republican candidate. They believe the pile-on from both the Democrats and their media allies will be enough to effectively push Romney far enough behind the president that he will never be able to make it up in the weeks remaining to him.

This is, to understate matters, something of a self-fulfilling prophecy since the reason the video is considered to be such a big deal is because it has been covered as an earthshaking gaffe that ought to spike Romney’s hopes of ever winning the presidency.

The assumption that Romney has been fatally damaged is incorrect. The initial reaction to the video clips will probably damage Romney, but it will not affect the bulk of his support in a race that is still close.

The reason the video hurts is that it played into Obama’s greatest advantage: a pliant media quick to dismiss his blunders but sure to make a meal out of any of Romney’s gaffes. But it is time for the Romney campaign to understand it must exploit the fact that half the country believes the liberal media are out to get him. Romney must tell the country that it must not let the chattering classes decide the election before they’ve had a chance to vote.

Let’s specify that Romney’s statement was dumb. No presidential candidate should ever make such a sweeping generalization. Romney has a habit of making gaffes and this was yet another example of one of his weak points as a leader. Yet for all of the fact that he painted those who don’t pay income taxes with a broad and inaccurate brush, his comment was still based in a correct interpretation of the philosophical divide between the approaches of the two parties to the entitlement welfare state that has played such a destructive role in American society.

But as much as some of the carping about the Romney campaign from Republicans has been justified, let’s understand the reason this video is being seen as the turning point in the election is that the liberal media, determined to reelect the president, are saying so.

This is the same media after all that were faced with a similar gaffe four years ago when Obama was caught on tape at one of his private fundraisers making similarly stupid comments dismissing much of America as “clinging to guns and religion” because of their fears and small-minded natures.

While that video did not go unreported at the time, the reaction from much of the press was indifference. Right-wing bloggers and columnists screamed about it but it was not treated as front-page news in mainstream newspapers. The explanation for that is not exactly a mystery. If most reporters and their editors didn’t play it that big it was because most of them shared Obama’s contempt for religion and guns and those that cling to them.

Let’s also remember that the president’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe has been endlessly defended and rationalized by the media instead of being covered as an open and shut case of his being out of touch with much of the country’s beliefs. The president’s open microphone moment earlier in the year, in which he promised Russia’s president that he could be more “flexible” in accommodating Moscow after his reelection, was also underplayed.

Any Republican who runs for president and is surprised to find the deck is stacked against him in the media doesn’t deserve the office. But that doesn’t mean Romney should take this double standard lying down. Rather than play defense on this issue, the Romney campaign must make it clear it intends to treat this story as being more about media bias than about the candidate’s stupidity. If played right, that could not only jazz up a GOP base that despises the media, but put the Republican’s tormenters on the defensive.

There is still plenty of time before November for an aggressive Romney push against the media’s double standards to undermine their narrative about him being finished. It’s a stance that can also help Romney win the debates. Not taking any guff and refusing to accept the premises of liberals posing as objective moderators could do even more for Romney that it did for Newt Gingrich during the GOP debates.

Trailing with less than seven weeks to go is not the position Romney wanted to be in. Obama was already the clear favorite, but if this becomes the moment when Romney finds his voice and hits his stride by speaking out on both his economic philosophy and against the media, it is not too late for him to turn this thing around.

Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


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5 Responses to “Despite Media Pile-On, Romney Isn’t Toast”

  1. Joel Keller says:

    After a very brief post convention bounce by President Obama, the race has now settled into a national 47% to 47% tie. Obama is ostensibly ahead in 2 swing states (Florida and Ohio) and Romney is ahead in three others. Let's remember that the election isn't being held today and that the winner will be the one with at least 270 electoral votes, which are determined state by state.

  2. Juliet Giles says:

    romneys good traits;march-1947 born-zodiac signs;-chinese animal zodiac sign good traits are; helpful-affectionate-amusing-caring-charitable-courteous-detrmined-forgiving-generous-knowledgeable-obliging-optimistic-outgoing-peaceful-self-sacrificing-sensible.ROMNEYS POEM-HIS BIRTHYEA;MY ANALYSES;.
    I HAVE THE PUREST HEART-WITH INNOCENCE AND FAITH-I WALK IN LOVES PROTECTIVE LIGHT-BY GIVING OF MYSELF FREELY-BONDED TO ALL MANKIND BY COMMON FELLOWSHIP-MY GOOD WILL IS UNIVERSAL-AND KNOWS NO BOUNDS.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Agreed, Juliet. Romney's sign is that of the "great advisor". The problem with this sign for a presidential candidate is that it is more of a 'power behind the throne' kind of personality that does not do well in the limelight. But it is far, far preferable in a president than Obama's astrological traits. Obama' chinese animal zodiac sign is one of extreme rigidity, stubbornness, lack of creativity, slowness, and inability to change course. Obama's sign is the most extreme form of the 'ox', which, if faced with proof that his ideas aren't working, will just stand still and stagnate. This sign also enforces a herd mentality, demanding conformity in others. His behavior for the past 4 years has confirmed his astrology remarkably!

  4. Charlie Hall says:

    What in the world is astrology doing in an Orthodox Jewish site?

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    Obama and Romney are tied only in two tracking polls. Every conventional poll in the past week has Obama up by 1 to 8 points according to the RealClearPolitics summary.

    Obama is indeed ahead in the last 7 polls in Ohio, 5 of the last 8 polls in FL (the other 3 being Republican polling firms), the last 8 polls in Virginia, 3 of the last 4 polls in New Hampshire (the exception being the Republican-leaning Rasmussen poll), 2 of the last 3 polls in Iowa (again Rasmussen is the exception), 6 of the last 7 polls in Colorado (again Rasmussen is the exception), the last 7 polls in Wisconsin, the last 7 polls in Michigan (the latest by 14 points), and in every Pennsylvania poll since early February (including a 12 point lead in the latest Rasmussen poll; the Republicans have apparently thrown in the towel as they are running no ads there), and in every Nevada poll going back to last December. If you add up all states that have voted Democratic in the past five Presidential elections, that adds up to 242 electoral votes. Only Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are even on the above list and Obama is ahead in all three. The Republicans have also conceded New Mexico (5 EV) and if you simply add Virginia and Ohio the election is over. And the "bad economy" argument doesn't work in either Virginia and Ohio as both have unemployment rates well below the national average. Things look very bad for Romney.

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