Thursday, March 01, 2012

Is Romney's result really that bad?

Image kindly pinched from

I watch a lot of sensationalist news. I figure that by watching Fox and MSNBC, I will average out the hysteria into a basic understanding of what is going on in the world. But sometimes the hysterics cannot be accurately blended into fact, and I feel like the great loser in this melee of somewhat-facts over the last week has been Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. 

"Analysts" of all types unanimously agreed that it was vital for Mitt Romney to win his home state of Michigan in Tuesday's primary. At face value this seems legitimate: one would expect candidates to take their own state, particularly one where their father was an incredibly popular governor. However, what threatened to sink Romney was not so much the fact the people don't like him. Romney penned a highly controversial piece in the New York Times called "Let Detroit go Bankrupt", which criticised what President Barack Obama planned to do (and ultimately did), which was bail out the auto industry, much of which is based in Detroit, Michigan.

Now, the auto industry is to Detroit what Table Mountain is to Cape Town - people get highly protective over it. Romney surely knew when he wrote that column for the New York Times that he was going to piss some people off. In fact, that's half the reason some people write columns. And such a divisive issue was bound to come up when he ran for president this time around. Of course Michiganders are going to have split opinion when it comes to the auto bailout; simple logic would dictate that some folks would be against it. In fact, it was nice to finally see Romney take a principled stand and stick with it.

What this means is that Romney was quite entitled to not win Michigan, in spite of his roots there, because he picked a side in a massively controversial battle. People were quite entitled to disagree with his view on the bail out. Surely the political system is better when people are voting over issues and records than the bloke that comes from a certain place and adores the height of the trees?

What also surprised me greatly was that not one media outlet I read, and I read many, discussed how Romney's opposition to the bailout may play in other states. Instead, we were treated to constant repetition of just how ghastly it would be if Mitt failed to win Michigan. Now, in many southern states, a portion of whom go to the polls on Super Tuesday (on 6 March) are far more concerned with fiscal conservatism. While arguing against the bailout may hurt in Michigan, it is unlikely to do so in Oklahoma, Tennessee or Georgia, all of whom will vote soon. And, let's be honest, if Romney starts winning in the south then this race will be over swiftly.

Something else the media climbed all over was Romney's speech to the Detroit Economics Club on Friday last week at the Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions American football team. Romney has been invited by the club to deliver a speech about his economic plan for the US, and naturally, attendance to an address by a  presidential nominee was higher than normal. The DEC (note, NOT Mit Romney) changed the venue to the Ford Field and set up a stage and chairs in a small portion of the field. There was never any intention to fill the stadium. But multiple media outlets reported how Mitt Romney failed to fill a stadium. One would think that the nominee would have invited more than 1,200-odd people in a 60,000-seater stadium if he was attempting to do something grand, right?

Image pinched from

Often, Romney doesn't help himself. He manages to walk around with both feet in his mouth a lot of the time, with increasing regularity. But he isn't helped by criticism that isn't, well, in-depth.

While much criticism is justified, it is surely worth looking at why Romney may have stuck with a point of view past the next primary. It is easy enough to point fingers and say you're criticising. It is something else entirely to actually be critical.

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