Absolutely fatuous: Son of Bush-checks-his-watch!


Candidate Romney’s huge mistake and other points of distraction:
The GOP hopefuls debated this weekend. And, according to CNN’s Candy Crowley, Candidate Romney made a huge mistake!

On Sunday, Crowley interviewed two candidate flacks on State of the Union—one for Romney, one for Gingrich. This was her very first question about the great debate:
CROWLEY (12/11/11): Joining me now from Manchester, New Hampshire, John Sununu, former governor of New Hampshire and a supporter of Mitt Romney. And here in Washington, Bob Walker, a former U.S. congressman who is advising the Gingrich campaign.

Gentlemen, thank you both for being here. If only because the calendar is closing in on them and because the race still appears to be pretty fluid, it was quite the debate last night. The consensus seems to be, reading some of the analysis, that Newt Gingrich held his own and did very well and that Mitt Romney made a huge mistake.
Wow! Discussing—what else?—the consensus, Crowley said Romney had made a huge mistake! Had he bungled some major policy question? Actually, no! As Crowley proceeded, she played a bit of tape—and showed the world the way our “press corps” “thinks:”
CROWLEY (continuing directly): So I want to start out just by playing for our viewers something that happened last night in the debate between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney:

(begin video clip)

PERRY: I'm just saying, you were for individual mandates, my friend.

ROMNEY: You know what? You've raised that before, Rick. And you're simply wrong.

PERRY: It was true then. And it's true now.

ROMNEY: No. Rick, I'll tell you what, $10,000, $10,000 bet?

PERRY: I'm not in the betting business.


(end video clip)

CROWLEY: Governor Sununu, first to you. This is widely being interpreted as yet another example of Mitt Romney not totally being in touch with the American people. The Democrats are off and running with "what could you do with $10,000?" Your response.
You can tell Romney is out of touch because of the size of that bet! This was Romney's "huge mistake!" He should have bet twenty dollars! On a lay-away plan!

For the record, there is no question that Romney’s comment was a huge mistake. Yesterday, the proffered bet was being discussed on every program we watched. As she continued, Crowley acknowledged that the focus was a bit daft, but she gave an accurate assessment of “the consensus” about the great debate. What made Crowley’s program stand out was the following fact: Both campaign spokesmen, and Crowley herself, admitted that this was basically stupid. This was Walker, the Gingrich flack, admitting how dumb this was:
CROWLEY: Congressman, on a scale of one to 10, how damaging is that kind of clip, which I can assure you is getting played all over the place?

WALKER: Well, the fact is that anything that comes out of these debates that ends up being carried in the way that this one is, is going to be harmful. But I agree with John Sununu that there needs to be a focus on the big issues, which is exactly where Newt Gingrich has been throughout this campaign.
What you just heard is the sound of a pol saying this whole thing is stupid. Crowley more or less agreed at various points in the discussion—after raising the "huge mistake" as her opening point of discussion.

That said, this is the way our “press corps” works with respect to debates. They search for some silly, low-IQ moment with which they can discuss the topics they most enjoy discussing. Why didn’t Dukakis punch Bernie Shaw? Why did George Bush look at his watch? Did you hear Gore sigh? (Here—we’ll jack up the volume!) Why wouldn’t McCain look at Obama?

Similar insipid stories are drawn from life on the trail. They could tell that Bush was out of touch because of that newfangled supermarket scanner. They could tell that Kerry was out of touch because he went windsurfing!

These are deeply fatuous life-forms. In the current case, will your lizard brain let you admit it?

Postscript: By the way, what did Romney say in his book? Candy Crowley made no attempt to address or settle that question!

Did Romney flip on the mandate? "The consensus seems to be" that nobody knows or cares!


  1. Thank you, Mr. Somerby! For the last day and a half, I've been waffling between stunned shock and complete embarrassment over the reaction from the left to this "$10,000 bet" thing. I honestly can't believe that people are reacting to this in this fashion, and that the left leaning public is repeating it as if it was a nail in the coffin.

    Two points stand out to me:
    1)I'm embarrassed by the fact that the left is obviously just as guilty of arguing by twisting soundbites as the right; this is a straight up Rush Limbaugh tactic, and the moral high ground is disappearing fast, and
    2)The very idea that offering a $10,000 bet in a situation like this shows how rich and out of touch Romney is rings completely false when any ten year old knows instinctively that the proper retort is "I'll betcha a million bucks!" If Romney's statement reveals anything, it reveals that he's unbelievably cheap...

  2. Mr. Somerby wrote:

    "This was Walker, the Gingrich flack, admitting how dumb this was:"

    A reasonable person might assume the designation of "flack" undercuts the idea the Gingrich spokesman is anything but objective.

    One of the goals of the Gingrich campaign is to show he's evolved from the bomb thrower of the 90s into a statesman worthy of being a presidential nominee of a major party.

    Walker's statement is a tactic that feeds into this strategy.

    It's a shame Mr. Somerby's objection to the coverage of the Romney gaff is based on the spin of a Gingrich "flack" and wants us to believe this flack is going to say anything that isn't part of an overall campaign strategy.

  3. And despite all the blather and bluster, I still have no idea whether Romney changed the text of his book or not. This wasn't addressed by Candy Crowley or any other commentator/pundit that I've read so far.

  4. We need an annual award for most inept news analyst -- and I don't mean someone with a flagrant conservative or liberal bias. Somewhere, the Candy Crowleys, Cokie Robertses and Wolf Blitzers of the world need to be recognized for their utterly blank, lazy, superficial, sophomoric takes on life-and-death politics. There's a country full of reporters working the police beat on small daily newspapers that know their shit better than these overmedicated zombies.

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