Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Sure Thing

The NFL is threatening to ruin the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney.

Not the NFL itself, of course, but the promiscuous gambling that has made the league wildly successful.

In one of those awful "buzzwords" (itself a buzzword) in the world of politics, the main "takeaway" from Saturday night's GOP presidential debate in Des Moines was Mitt Romney's retort to Rick Perry, who claimed that the first edition of Romney's book referred to the "mandate in Massachusetts which should be the model for the country."

Romney seemed out of touch, challenging Perry to a $10,000 bet. Monday, the former Massachusetts governor contended "It’s like saying, 'hey, I’ll bet you a million bucks, x, y and z.' "

Oddly, Romney's chief surrogate, Chris Christie, maintained on Monday at a fundraiser for the presidential candidate something subtly different. "The picking of the number $10,000," the N.J. governor contended "I’m sure was Gov. Romney saying ‘That’s how sure I am. I’m willing to bet that much money — that’s how sure I am Rick that you’re lying.’ I think that’s all it was.”

When a guy isn't serious, he suggests an outrageous number (traditionally, often, $1 million) to make a point. Christie, however, implies that Romney was deadly serious because he was "sure" Perry was "lying."

Politifact rated Perry's charge "mostly false," which may be generous to the Texas governor, given Politifact's reasoning. More definitively, as FactCheck.org found

In fact, Perry is wrong and Romney is correct. As we have written a couple of times before, the book was revised and this line was removed: “We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country.” But the phrase “the same thing” refers to the goals of the state law: “portable, affordable health insurance,” not the controversial individual mandate or the entire law. Romney saw the Massachusetts plan as a potential model for other states, if they so choose, but not as a federal mandate.

The merit of the accusation, however, seems not to matter. Rick Perry remarked that Romney's offer was "a little out of touch the normal Iowa citizen," a sentiment echoed by The Des Moines Register's Kathie Obradovich, who tweeted "not too many Iowa caucusgoers are the sort to offer a $10,000 bet, even on a sure thing."

If not, we can blame the NFL. You won't be betting $10,000 that the New England Patriots will cover the six points by which they are favored to defeat the Denver Broncos on Sunday- or, for that matter, that the Broncos will cover the spread. The outcome of the game is completely out of your control, and you have very nearly a 50% chance of being wrong. (If that were not the case, the bookies would lose their figurative shirt.)

Romney, however, had no such fear. He wrote the book. He knew what was in the original release and had no reason to fear that his $10,000 was in any jeopardy. But most voters could not imagine betting $10,000 on anything, as accustomed as they are to thinking of gambling in the context of athletic events.

Romney's challenge was politically tone-deaf, given the figure he used was far below the figure ($1 million, or better yet, $10 million) to make it clear that it was speaking figuratively, or a small enough figure (perhaps $50) that a voter could relate to. But if you had the opportunity, with someone willing to take the offer, would you not bet someone $10,000 on what you had for dinner last night?

Sure you would, if you wanted to make a quick buck, or a quick $10,000 of them.

1 comment:

Teevka said...

Well, we know Mitt's got the bucks, whatever it is, as, of course, they all do.
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