Editorial: The allure of political blunders

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is on a roll — a roll of blunders, that is.

On Monday, a leaked video featured the presidential candidate bemoaning the 47 percent of Americans who support President Barack Obama because they are “dependent upon government.” They are people “who believe they are victims,” — the same people who feel they are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

Not doing much to help his image of a flip-flopper, Romney said early Wednesday morning that he was the poor American’s best bet. Bet he wishes could erase everything and start over — sort of like an Etch A Sketch.

Romney’s not the first politician to make such a political misstep. Who could forget how Vice President Joe Biden said Romney was going to put a room full of African-Americans back in chains?

Political blunders have the ability to compromise otherwise successful campaigns, so it’s important to ask: Why do they amuse voters all over the political spectrum?

Perhaps it is because there’s nothing more satisfying or convenient than seeing a high and mighty official fall so hard from political grace.

Even members of Romney’s own party are making great efforts to distance themselves from the candidate’s 47 percent comment. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., whose opponent is the liberal Elizabeth Warren, told The Los Angeles Times that’s “not how (he) views the world.”

For voters, there is something cathartic and reaffirming about witnessing political blunders. When politicians say such offensive things, we feel our distrust of them has been warranted.  Critics of Romney and Biden latch onto their slip-ups and generalize their entire ideologies based on a handful of distasteful bloopers. Their image as politicians can be summarized in a few ill-chosen words. Surely, Romney has more thoughtful plans for “health care” and “housing” and surely, Biden doesn’t really think Romney will admit people to slavery if he’s elected president.

After hearing their blunders, politicians become regular people who don’t know any more about politics than we do.

For those of us who are skeptical of politicians, these blunders are glimpses into their real selves. These blunders are unscripted and off the record. When Romney made the 47 percent slip-up, liberals felt justified in their suspicion of Romney, reiterating that there’s no way such a business-oriented, rich candidate could relate to the struggles of the middle class. When the Obama administration lost track of the guns in Operation Fast and Furious that led to the killing of a border patrol agent, conservatives were quick to criticize Obama for his inability to handle border relations safely and effectively.

We’re no longer that shocked when we hear a politician slip-up. We get wrapped up in the drama of it all. We’re still waiting to be pleasantly surprised by politicians who do respectable things.

 

Want to join the conversation? Send an email to opiniondesk.statepress@gmail.com. Keep letters under 300 words and be sure to include your university affiliation. Anonymity will not be granted.