Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Mystery Solved

The mystery: does Mitt Romney actually believe his endless absurdities, in which case he's a fool, or does he know better but calculates that in the current political environment the absurdities serve his ambitions, in which case he's merely an unprincipled liar? Since I keep reading about how, underneath it all, he's really quite smart, I've been inclined to go along with the unprincipled liar theory.   That was actually sort of comforting, since it would probably be less chilling to have an unprincipled liar as president than one who sincerely believes his stupidities.

However, even this small comforting thought may be denied us, for maybe Romney is both a liar and a fool.  Yesterday, in his groveling political tour of Israel, Romney gave a speech claiming that the fact that Israelis have a much higher per capita income than the Palestinians--about twice as much, he said, but actually over ten times as much--proved that Israel had a superior “culture.”

This was too much even for the New York Times, which in both its news story and editorial pointed out that Romney had somehow ignored the Israeli occupation and its ongoing border closures and trade as well as other economic  sanctions of the Palestinians.   The news story quoted from a CIA assessment--no less--that in the West Bank "Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labor and trade flows, industrial capacity, and basic commerce," and that matters were even worse in Gaza, where Israeli economic warfare has, (in the CIA's words), "resulted in high unemployment, elevated poverty rates, and the near collapse of the private sector that had relied on export markets." Aside from Romney's mind-boggling cultural explanation, the Times editorial observed that Romney had demonstrated "troubling ignorance" in "vastly understating" the Israeli-Palestinian income disparities.

In a normal political environment this should have been a Gerald Ford, possibly election-changing, moment.  As will be recalled, in a debate with Jimmy Carter during the 1976 presidential campaign, Ford said "There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration."   Naturally, the Democrats gleefully jumped all over this, and many analysts believe that it tipped the electoral scales towards Carter.

My first thought was that the Romney “gaffe” demonstrated not merely that he was a shamelessly pandering liar but also a fool, because only a fool would fail to realize that his preposterous argument would hold him up to catastrophic ridicule, just as was the case with Ford.

But hold on!   Maybe he's not so dumb after all!   Maybe he has cleverly and realistically calculated that he can get away with saying anything at all, so long as it is "pro-Israeli," because Obama and the Democrats will not dare to point out the truth. 

Such is the state of affairs in 2012 America.  We have met the real fools, and they are us.


Larry May said...

Of course, factually, you are correct, Dr. Slater.
But in the political climate in which he operates, Romney is counting on his pronouncements only resonating with his constituency on the far-right, the jewish community mostly located in Florida and evangelicals. He and his advisors are also hoping that the electorate only cares about domestic economic issues and little about foreign policy.

breakingthesilence said...

Since Zionism rests on a long series of absurd historic myths to justify the state of Israel's existence on stolen Palestinian territory, it is not at all unlikely that Romney's Jewish neocon donors and potential Zionist supporters are delighted with his "analysis." Surely a great many Jewish Zionists (& Christian Evangelicals) believe that the Jews are a "higher" culture thn those contemptible Arabs. It is the racist myth that the colonizer always believes and which, in one form or another, colors America's view of the Arab (and African) nations. I would guess that among right-wing Zionists, a good 90% are willing to ignore the colonialist oppression and blame Palesstinian poverty on culture. Romney said aloud what the human mind does automatically: justify oppression (when one is the oppressor) and prove that the oppressed (that other tribe) has done it to themselves. Hey, look how easily even liberal Zionists can deny that the Israelis brutally and murderously stole 76% of the Palestinian homeland in 1948 and how easily they can rationalize the theft with fanciful stories proving it really didn't happen or if it did it was the dirty Arabs' own fault.