The political chattering class recently was agog about two incidents. One concerned Mitt Romney expressing concern that airplane windows could not be opened in the event that smoke filled the cabin, something that happened recently on a plane on which his wife Ann was traveling. People took this as yet another sign of a clueless candidate out of touch with reality.
The other was a report that took a true comment by a political commentator that a Romney loss in November would require Paul Ryan, if he were to run for national office again in the future to first wash away the ‘stench’ of his association with Romney, to argue that Ryan had taken to openly refer to Romney as ‘Stench’.
I read the flurry of items about these two stories but did not take either of these reports seriously. I think that even the dimmest of dim bulbs have seen enough news items and films about what happens when an airplane cabin is suddenly depressurized in flight to know that opening a window is an invitation to disaster. And the second ‘Stench” story, though written on a political site by a political reporter and not on (say) The Onion, was obviously tongue-in-cheek.
But here’s the problem for Romney. He and his campaign are now seen as so inept and dysfunctional that even political reporters are willing to take at face value things that they should be skeptical about. That is not a good position for a politician to be in. It is like the way people could make up jokes about the mangling of English or general ignorance about national and world affairs and ascribe them to Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin and people would assume they were true. It takes away from the gravitas that people expect from their leaders.
Adding fuel to this fire, at a recent rally Paul Ryan recently told a woman who informed him that she was on welfare, “Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Don’t feed fish.”, drawing comparisons with Dan Quayle’s famous botching of that same aphorism, when he said, “If you give a person a fish, they’ll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they’ll fish for a lifetime.”
How hard can it be to recall correctly one of the most trite sayings of all time?