Jonathan S. Tobin @ Commentary Magazine:
So while some of us were celebrating the Jewish New Year and taking the last couple of days off from politics, it appears a video has more or less decided the election. That’s the assumption of much of the mainstream media about the impact of the release of the video of Mitt Romney speaking back in May at a private fundraiser about the 47 percent of the country that doesn’t pay taxes. They think this means it’s time to put a fork in the Republican candidate. They believe the pile-on from both the Democrats and their media allies will be enough to effectively push Romney far enough behind the president that he will never be able to make it up in the weeks remaining to him. This is, to understate matters, something of a self-fulfilling prophecy since the reason the video is considered to be such a big deal is because it has been covered as an earth-shaking gaffe that ought to spike Romney’s hopes of ever winning the presidency.
As much as I’ve taken a dim view of some of the pie-eyed optimism on the right that wrongly discounted Barack Obama’s advantages, the assumption that Romney has been fatally damaged is incorrect. The initial reaction to the video clips will probably damage Romney, but it will not affect the bulk of his support in a race that is still close. But it also offers him an opportunity, not so much as Rush Limbaugh said today to open up a dialogue about entitlements and taxes — though that would be welcome — as it does for him to take on the media that is pronouncing him dead. The reason the video hurts is that it played into Obama’s greatest advantage: a pliant media that is quick to dismiss his blunders but can be counted on to make a meal out of any of Romney’s gaffes. But it is time for the Romney campaign to understand they must exploit the fact that half the country believes the liberal media is out to get him. Romney must tell the country that it must not let the chattering classes decide the election before they’ve had a chance to vote.
Let’s specify that Romney’s statement was dumb. No presidential candidate should ever make such a sweeping generalization. Romney has a habit of making gaffes and this was yet another example of one of his weak points as a leader. Yet for all of the fact that he painted those who don’t pay income taxes with a broad and inaccurate brush, his comment was still based in a correct interpretation of the philosophical divide between the approaches of the two parties to the entitlement welfare state that has played such a destructive role in American society.
But as much as some of the carping about the Romney campaign from Republicans has been justified, let’s understand that the reason why this video is being seen as the turning point in the election is that a liberal media that is determined to re-elect the president says so.