On Right-Wing Web Site, Romney Doubles Down on Bigoted "Culture" Remarks
As we reported here, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney earlier this week used the occasion of his visit to Israel to tell a roomful of wealthy donors that the reason for the disparity of wealth between Israel and the Palestinian territories was attributable to a difference of "culture" -- to mention the hand of "divine providence."
Last night, after an interview with Fox News' Carl Cameron in which has a bit mealy-mouthed about his word choice, Romney published a commentary on the site of the right-wing National Review in which he essentially doubled down on his original, remarks applauding the cultural exceptionalism of the Jewish people. The title of Romney's essay? "Culture Does Matter".
From a synopisis of the Cameron interview on the Web site of Fox News:
The comments were branded as "racist" by some Palestinian leaders, but Romney denied he was being culturally insensitive.
"I'm not speaking about it, did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy." Instead, he said he's pointing out "that the choices that a society makes has a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society."
Apparently, to some right-wing ears, that might have sounded a bit too much like a walk-back of Romney's earlier dog-whistle to right-wing evangelical Christians whose support for Israel is part and parcel of their end-times theology -- a dog whistle that was also probably quite satisfying to the Islamophobic nuts turning over rocks looking for Muslim Brotherhood cells in the U.S. government.
So, voila, today Romney has this to say in an intellectually dishonest op-ed at NRO:
During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.
But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism.
Which sounds an awful lot like he's saying that Palestinian culture is marked by a lack of work ethic, no appreciation for education, no commitment to "honor and oath" (hear that, Oath Keepers?), no family orientation, and, counfoundingly, no willingness to take risks. (Say what you will about the intifada, it was not marked by a lack of risk-taking on the Palestinians' part. Rocks v. tanks is kind of a risky strategy.) But you don't need me to identify all of the right-wing saliva buttons installed in those several sentences. They pretty much glare.
As Michael Tomasky writes at The Daily Beast:
[Romney] lives in tremulous fear of America’s right wing and won’t breathe a word that he worries might upset them. That’s the real wimp factor. Is that how he’s going to behave if elected, functionally running domestic and foreign policy past Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes?
I've been arguing for months that, absent any motive other than ambition for wanting to be president, Romney is running on a bigotry strategy. Tomasky's right -- it's not just despicable; it's craven. But in today's America, it just might work.