On a day when Republicans should be aghast at the rhetorical recklessness of GOP frontrunner, Newt Gingrich, in needlessly inflaming Israeli-Palestinian tensions, we are subjected to incessant chatter about Mitt Romney’s rhetorical wager of $10,000 to stare down a rival’s deliberate lie about his record.
Go ahead, make my day, Mitt challenged Rick Perry. Put your money where your mouth is. But the tough-talkin’, straight-shootin’ Texan blinked. He slithered away without Clint’s having to pay out even a penny.
Maybe Rick forgot about the earlier debate in which he told Michelle Bachman he was insulted by her suggestion that he could be bought for a mere $5,000, to mandate that all Texas girls be injected with Gardasil. Didn’t she know his campaign donations were vastly larger than a paltry 5,000 bucks? Maybe that’s why Mitt upped the ante to 10,000 bucks, not wanting to fall below the Governor’s monetary threshold or invite his disdain for a low-dollar contribution.
In any event, Mitt’s wager had nothing to do with $10,000, $10,000,000, or any other amount of real money. It was a classic rhetorical device to force Rick to back down. In essence, Put up or shut up. Rick shut up. He visibly paled. He was afraid to stand behind his lame lie—originally floated and debunked months ago—lest he be savaged again in the media. He was rendered speechless. (His post-debate comments and advertising are obviously the work of his handlers.)
When confronted with an intentional lie about what one has said or written, a man or woman of conviction is always willing to bet on the truth. And to bet big. Most people understand this instinctive reaction and admire it. Average folks of average means (by definition, lots of us) can appreciate the masculinity, muscularity, and wit on display in the rhetorical arm-wrestling between Mitt and Rick. For its humorous value alone, their mano-a-mano encounter was the high point of the Des Moines debate.
Only elitist purveyors of class warfare, self-promoting talking heads, and, of course, Mitt’s political opponents in both parties pretend to be offended—on behalf of us average folks, mind you—by his nimbleness and feistiness in counterpunching the flat-footed Rick Perry.
In the meantime, before and during the same debate, the would-be Historian-in-Chief hurled rhetorical bombs at the Palestinians, inserted himself uninvited into sensitive Israeli political calculations, and again demonstrated that he lacks the practical judgment, self-discipline, and executive temperament required to be President of the United States.
That’s some rhetoric you’ve got, Newt, and its real cost is a whole lot more than 10,000 bucks.
December 12, 2011
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