The Romney gaffe that wasn’t

A surreptitiously recorded video  of US Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney has been widely reported on both sides of the Pacific as delivering a body blow to his November hopes. This was the smoking gun, Lateline’s Tony Jones gleefully informed viewers, the candidate for wealth and privilege caught “dismissing half the US electorate”. Blanket “gaffe” coverage ensued – although, curiously, there was never mention that the tape had been heavily edited by Mother Jones, the hard-left magazine which released it.

And what were the shocking words that passed the candidate’s lips? Why, that far too many Americans prefer to think of themselves as victims as they wait for the next tranche of handouts. If you bought into the buzz (or consider the ABC a credible source of unbiased reporting) it was the revelatory moment when the country-club candidate revealed his contempt for little people before a crowd of well-heeled exploiters like himself.

Great narrative, great coverage – except there was nothing new about this “scoop”, nothing new whatsoever. Far from representing a conspiracy against the downtrodden masses, a conspiracy so vile it could only be uttered behind closed doors, Romney has been open and upfront about the need for a massive shift from welfare to work, as reporters would have known if they had bothered to read his 2010 book, No Apology.

Quadrant Online contributor Steve Kates went to the trouble and here is what he discovered on page 303:

In light of the challenges faced by the country, I am puzzled by those who align themselves with a political agenda that may be well intentioned, but that weakens the country and hazards our freedom.

First, however, there are people who correctly presume that they will get more money from governments if it is run by Democrats. I understand these kinds of Democrats very well. Adam Lerrick of the American Enterprise Institute calculated for The Wall Street Journal that under candidate Obama’s tax plan, 49 percent of all Americans will pay no income tax. Added to that number are 11 percent who would pay federal income tax of less than 5 percent of their income. So for 60 percent of Americans, spending restraint and lower taxes championed by Republicans may not mean a great deal to them personally – at least in the short term, even though the lower taxes promote economic growth, good jobs and higher incomes.

Steve would make a terrible reporter, always letting the facts get in the way of a good, old-fashion stitch-up. Best to leave that beat to Jones & Co.

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