Right Field

Re Jet Skis and Romney, the Media Is Out of Touch

So this whole jet-ski thing isn’t going away, is it? There are those comparing Romney on a Jet Ski on Independence Day to the unforgettable pictures of John Kerry windsurfing off Nantucket. This is nonsense. Here’s why:

Jet Skis aren’t elitist. I’ve lived in New England my entire life. Go to any lake in Maine or New Hampshire this weekend and you will see lines of pickup trucks towing Jet Skis and waiting to lower them into the water. I grew up a faculty brat in a textile town in Maine during the Seventies, when all the mills were closing. Even then, it was commonplace to see all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles outside most homes. When Jet Skis became available in the Eighties, they were added to the mix. If anything, the faculty community looked down on the snowcats and Jet Skis as “white trash” toys.

You can jet-ski anywhere there’s water. Windsurfing requires high coastal winds and some decent waves. In other words, windsurfing can only be done only on the coasts. Jet Skis are ubiquitous across even flyover America. Hmmm, could this be a metaphor?

Jet-skiing is a uniquely American pastime. You pour gas into a powerful, inefficient engine. You jump on, twist the throttle, and go. That’s it. A child can jet-ski easily. Jet-skiing requires no lessons, is purely intuitive, and can bring excitement to the most bucolic settings. What is more all-American than wanting a thrill ride on your own machine?

Romney jet-skied in a bathing suit and a T-shirt . . . wearing them just like every dad who could get to a lake, ocean, or pool on Independence Day. Kerry, in contrast, wore a skin-tight, zip-up wet suit, which virtually nobody in America wears outside of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

Romney on a Jet Ski doesn’t show him as out-of-touch. The media’s reaction to it shows that they are.


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