MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2012
Like Pepperidge Farm, Harwood remembers: We don’t expect to post tomorrow.
While we’re away, why not treat yourself to a review of John Harwood’s favorite stories?
In last Friday’s New York Times, Harwood connected Mitt Romney’s remarks about the 47 percent to Candidate Blunders of the past. This allowed the scribe to recall his favorite candidate stories.
Harwood lists his top ten candidate blunders, dating to the 1968 campaign. A few quick reactions:
Instant editing: We were struck by the way Harwood shortens some of the allegedly horrible candidate statements. In the case of Candidate Gore, Harwood shortens a 16-word statement down to just eight, instantly dumping some of the context. He does something similar with Candidate Kerry, whose laughable statement made perfect sense and involved no “flip-flop” at all.
Mondale never dies: As we’ve mentioned in the past, Candidate Mondale’s statement about taxes always makes these lists. In this way, journalists mock a candidate for making a straightforward, perfectly accurate statement about a major policy area. (For the record, President Reagan did go on to raise taxes, just as Mondale predicted. After that, so did Presidents Bush and Clinton.)
Dukakis never dies too: Needless to say, Candidate Dukakis makes the list, not because of what he said, but because he said it as part of an “emotionless response.” Translation: Dukakis was supposed to punch Bernie Shaw right in the nose for asking the most tasteless and inappropriate question in the history of presidential debates. When Dukakis didn’t punch Shaw in the nose, the mainstream press corps swung into action. They repeat the tale to this very day. It's one of their all-time favorites.
Two major omissions: Harwood includes a minor, pointless remark by President Bush in 1992. He omits one of the most significant statements in the history of modern presidential campaigning: “Read my lips. No new taxes!” In 1988, this highly disingenuous statement won the election for Candidate Bush. Four years later, it may have cost him re-election. Also omitted: Candidate Muskie’s alleged weeping in 1972, an astonishing incident in which the upper-end press corps seems to have invented a whole set of facts.
Journalists love these silly tales. They never stop repeating these tales, no matter how much they have to doctor, omit or spin in the process of the retelling.
However much you think it matters, Candidate Romney’s videotaped statement actually did involve major misstatements. Most of Harwood’s favorite candidate blunders are examples of something else.