In presidential races, the gaffes get the headlines, but the prepared texts and advisers are more telling. Mitt Romney’s widely reported blunders in his three six-day trip to Britain, Israel and Poland dominated press coverage, but the candidate’s prepared comments and the aides who advised him were far more disappointing.
At a fundraiser in Jerusalem this week, Romney said that aspects of Israel’s culture explained why the average per capita income in Israel was twice that of the Palestinians. Within hours, Palestinian officials called the statement “racist” and accused Romney of ignoring the economic impact of Israeli’s military occupation of the West Bank, as well as $3 billion a year in American aid to Israel.
Romney could have dismissed the episode as a misunderstanding. But instead he stood by – and expanded – his argument that culture is why Israelis were wealthier than Palestinians.
“In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy,” Romney wrote in an opinion piece published in the National Review on the final day of his trip. “But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture?”
He went on to expand his line of thinking to the United States, saying that several aspects of American culture made it “the greatest economic power in the history of the earth.” One, though, stands out.