Alright, so Mitt Romney and Barack Obama appeared on 60 Minutes last night and were interviewed by Scott Pelley. Both interviews were pre-taped and edited to fit into a limited period of time. The questions were nearly identical for both candidates and covered the economy and foreign policy.
So what did the Romney camp choose to focus on the next day? “Bumps in the Road” as the headline on Fox News put it. The headline refers to a comment Obama made regarding the unrest in the Middle East. Here is what the President said:
“I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights, a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance. But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road.”
Obama was plainly describing the difficulties of transitioning to democracy for countries that have been under dictatorships for decades. Romney, however, extracted a few words and then asserted that they were directed specifically at the deaths of the diplomats in Libya. This is a recurring pattern in the Romney strategy which consists almost entirely of taking fragments of Obama’s comments out of context (see Mitt Romney: The Master Of Mangling Context). It sheds no light on any issue of substance and is nothing more than a purposeful distraction and smear.
On the other hand, Romney spoke with Pelley about health care and defended his opposition to individual mandates. He asserted that Health care is available to everyone in America and explained just how the uninsured should go about receiving it:
“We do provide care for people who don’t have insurance. If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care.”
And then we charge them hundreds of thousands of dollars which results in them losing their homes, going bankrupt, being unable to send their kids to school, and not having the funds to pay for other medical needs or, for that matter, food. Where Romney gets the impression that free medical care is available as necessary at hospital emergency rooms is something he never reveals. What’s more, it directly contradicts his position on this issue from only five years ago when he assailed the use of emergency rooms as a health plan of last resort:
“When they show up at the hospital they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that’s not a form of socialism I don’t know what is.”
I’m quite sure that he doesn’t know what socialism is, but that’s beside the point. He must know that he is contradicting himself and advocating a practice that he previously rejected in the strongest terms. It also happens that the practice of relying on ERs is substantially more expensive and has far worse outcomes for the patient than access to regular care from a doctor.
If the media comes out of this taking seriously Romney’s whining about Obama using a figure of speech to describe the “bumps” that will jostle the emerging democracies in the Middle East, while ignoring the far more consequential comments and contradictions by Romney that fail to grasp the the health care challenges our nation faces, then they will have demonstrated once again why the public holds the media in such low esteem.
As for the esteem with which the public holds Romney, it just keeps getting lower by the day.