The Corner

All Gaffes Aren’t Created Equal

On Friday, President Obama said that “the private sector is doing fine.” In response Govenor Romney said, “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.” The Obama campaign is trying to mitigate the damage of its candidate’s comment by pouncing on Romney’s. The governor’s comment was maladroit: He would have been better off, I think, saying that whether or not we need more policemen, etc., hiring them is not an economic-growth strategy.

Be that as it may, I don’t think Romney’s comment is going to hurt him nearly as badly as Obama’s will hurt him. The central message of the Romney campaign, and Obama’s central vulnerability, is after all that Obama doesn’t get, and has failed, the economy. His just-fine comment reinforces that message. Romney’s comment is a vulnerability because people like firefighters, teachers, and policemen. But it doesn’t reinforce a central argument of Obama’s. There is, to be sure, a connection to Obama’s message that Romney is too extreme and too anti-government. But that connection is indirect, and the message itself doesn’t strike me as especially powerful. To put it another way: The number of persuadable voters who might turn against Obama because they think he doesn’t get the economy is larger than the number who might vote against Romney because he doesn’t want to hire more firefighters.

Ramesh Ponnuru — Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg View, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More