No, I am not having a problem with my Internet browser, but I am feeling a bit queasy. Not physically, mind you, but my insides are irritated nonetheless with the title referring to my attitude about the Democrats’ approach to the presidential campaign.
Way back in August Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin of Politico wrote that the Democrats would launch a “personal assault on Mitt Romney’s character and business background.” That same piece quoted an unnamed Obama campaign adviser, “There’s a weirdness factor with Romney, and it remains to be seen how he wears with the public.”
Well, as Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC demonstrated this past week, the message from the Democratic National Committee had been received loud and clear. Now that Mitt is the presumptive nominee, he has moved his operation into gear: Carry out the planned strategy by all means possible and take every opportunity to depict Mitt as weird. After hitting Mitt’s religion a few days ago, O’Donnell is now depicting Mitt as a space alien:
O’DONNELL: Mitt Romney , man from Mars , has struck again.
ROMNEY: I’m not sure about these cookies. They don’t look like you made them. Did you make those cookies? You didn’t, did you? No, no. they came from the local 7-11 bakery or wherever.
O’DONNELL: That was Mitt ‘s man from Mars reaction on Tuesday outside of the Bethel Park Community Center near Pittsburgh . He was there doing, you know, what we all do whenever our hosts present us with snacks or food of any kind. He immediately insulted their offering. On what planet is that an acceptable practice?
It is obvious to anyone who knows Mitt that he would never speak negatively of any offering of food that was placed before him. No way is he that sort of mean person.
So, what could be behind what the media is now calling “Cookiegate?” Well, no doubt a good deal of the uproar was an attempt to make up for the lost battle over modes of transportation for dogs and the resulting tsunami of “dogs as menu items” that hit Twitter this past week. Jim Treacher of The Daily Caller began the whole episode by referring to David Axelrod’s Tweet from January, “How loving owners transport their dogs,” writing, “Hey, if we’re going to talk about how presidential candidates treated dogs decades ago, let’s talk about how presidential candidates treated dogs decades ago.”
Providing some insights into the competition between the Republican and Democrat campaigns, Chris Cilizza of The Fix at the Washington Post explains in detail the exchanges between Axelrod and Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt’s Senior Campaign Adviser. In response to Axelrod’s January post, Fehrnstrom Tweeted, “In hindsight, a chilling photo RT @davidaxelrod: How loving owners transport their dogs. bit.ly/xGeJuZ.” The shortened URL is a link to the photo Axelrod had Tweeted back in January.
Considering the Twitter traffic, any objective observer would have to acknowledge that the Obama campaign is still smarting from that exchange. The barrage of #ObamaDogRecipes was withering and absolutely lit up Twitter for days.
Returning to “CookieGate,” what seems obvious, at least to any objective observer, is that Mitt making was using a joke to actually deliver a sort of backhand complement. This would not be the first time that his sense of humor has been misunderstood, with such occurrences prompting Molly Ball of the National Journal to write an entire article on the subject. Here is a short excerpt:
For all the hype about his woodenness, Romney, I submit, actually has the most sophisticated — and underappreciated — sense of humor of any presidential candidate. It is dry, self-deprecating and a bit dark, a far cry from the safely hokey laugh lines of most politicians on the stump. And it bespeaks a confidence and flair not often attributed to the much-maligned candidate.
With that in mind, Mitt could have easily been thinking at first that the cookies had been made by one of the people at the park meeting. Seeking to comment on the high quality of the cookies on the table, his approach was to say that they could not possibly have been made by someone at home. In fact, they were not homemade and had been donated by the Bethel Bakery, which seems to be of some renown in the area.
As things turned out, the Los Angeles Times reported the event by quoting Mitt one way, while CNN quoted him another. From the LA Times:
“I’m not sure about these cookies. Did you make those cookies?” he asked the women around him. “You didn’t, did you? No. No. They came from the local 7-Eleven bakery or wherever.”
Twitter lit up once again, this time with CNN reporting that some of the comments pointed “to the remarks as an example of Romney being out of touch to the point of confusing 7-11 with a bakery.” The New York Times reported the exchange a little differently, however:
“I’m not sure about these cookies,” he said, looking at one of the woman [sic]. “They don’t look like you made them. No, no. They came from the local 7-Eleven, bakery, or whatever.”
Note the comma after 7-Eleven and the fact that he turned to one of the women when he made the comment. The actual video is available from The Hill, which reported:
Mitt Romney clearly did not mean to “dis” a beloved local bakery near Pittsburgh this week, but Democrats are leaping on his comments as they work to paint the likely GOP nominee as out of touch with voters.
Romney, meeting with local residents Tuesday at an outdoor roundtable event in Bethel Park, joked about some cookies and launched yet another attack based on what critics call his aloofness to the daily lives of Americans.
“I’m not sure about these cookies,” Romney said, and continued to tease one of the women at the table: “Did you make those cookies? You didn’t, did you? No. No. They came from the local 7-Eleven bakery or wherever.”
Totally predictable is how this is showing up on Twitter as shown below:
Most everyone got the joke and sought to take advantage of the circumstance. With their president admitting that he had eaten dog meat and folks on Twitter having great fun at his expense, however, Democrats apparently felt that they had to do something in response. The winners in the exchange are the Bethel Bakery and 7-Eleven. While the bakery is receiving orders from around the country, 7-Eleven is promoting their fresh-baked cookies that are for sale in their stores everywhere.
With cookies being sold by everyone involved or mentioned in “CookieGate,” I am happy to report that we see no evidence yet that butcher shops are being overrun with requests for any out-of-the-ordinary fare.