I’ll say it up front — I didn’t watch the Republican candidates’ debate Saturday night. (Seriously, a debate on Saturday night? Are they consciously trying to make Republicans seem lonely and pathetic?)
Yesterday, it was obvious that the media thought the big story from the debate was that Mitt Romney bet Rick Perry $10,000 about the accuracy of one of Perry’s charges. Did the media care about the accuracy of Perry’s charge? Nah! No, the story was about the size of the bet. The media, you see, has concluded that the comment about the $10,000 bet shows that Romney is ridiculously rich and out of touch with the average American. Why, the media says disapprovingly, for most Americans, $10,000 is equivalent to several months of their salary! That is, if the American is lucky enough to even have a job at all in our dismal economy.
And therein, I think, lies the rub. In the past, when things were going well for our nation, we could chuckle and enjoy these media-made controversies, even if they ended up costing the unfortunate public figure their credibility and their career. But now, the stakes are too high. We can’t afford to toss aside candidates because of silly stuff. Doesn’t it tell you something when the media coverage is not about the substance of any candidate’s statements about the issues of the day — but rather is about some sideshow moment?
I’m not saying that Mitt Romney knows how to end our economic predicament — but I do know that, if he does know the answer, I don’t care how rich he is or how many $10,000 bets he’d like to make. His comment about a $10,000 bet is no more disqualifying than the fact that President Obama and his family have taken vacations that most Americans couldn’t afford. It’s time to ignore the ginned up media storms, focus on the substance, and try to figure out which candidate — Democrat or Republican — offers the best way forward.