One of Mitt Romney favorite topics on the stump is the role of culture in determining economic prosperity. Often, in the course of his remarks, he will refer to The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor by David S. Landes. According to Romney, Landes argues that "if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it's this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference."*
Now, few would view Mitt Romney as a cultural warrior. But, in his remarks, he not only takes up the challenge of culture but essentially expands the accepted parameters of the culture war. To listen to the MSM - and even some on the right - the culture war deals primarily with abortion, homosexuality, pray in school, and whether or not we can openly wish someone a Merry Christmas. Romney however broadens the term to include how a culture views education, innovation, risk, the dignity of work, and the role of government. In doing so Romney makes an important distinction that separates himself from the normal Washington insider like John McCain and from the Republicans of 2008.
Four years ago Barack Obama ran openly on the premise that he would fundamentally change the country. While conservatives understood the threat and fought accordingly, most Republicans dismissed the danger. To them, an Obama victory was simply a change in management. Now, four years later, more and more people have come to realize that Obama opposes traditional American values and that his presidency has put us on a course that will only lead to self-destruction. Mitt Romney appears to want to lead us back. He understands that the 2012 election is not about a simple change in management. It is about fundamentally changing the culture of the United States. To do so, he will have to reverse the trajectory of the culture war and restore what the locust [read Democrats and their rent seekers] have eaten. (Hat tip to the prophet Joel.)
Although Romney has field tested his cultural critique in numerous stump speeches, the Democrats and the MSM responded for the first time on Tuesday after Romney made similar comments to supporters in Israel. A coordinated media broadside accused Romney of racism and cultural insensitivity. Headlines boldly proclaimed that Romney had snubbed the Palestinians and declared the Israelis racially superior. Palestinians, the MSM, and Democrats lined up to condemn the foreign policy gaff. The incident was completely manufactured. Although the MSM ran with the story for several days, it quickly lost steam when Romney released a text of his remarks. While charges of racism have become standard fare for the Obama administration and the MSM, it does show that the issue is one that hurts Team Obama.
*The quote is from the text of the remarks delivered by Romney in Israel. Out of all the articles on the speech, none quote the actual remarks. Most deal simply with the reaction to the remarks. I found an abridged version of the remarks at www.sfgate.com.