To illustrate the point of the “gaffe” post, what did you learn from media coverage of Mitt Romney’s trip to England, Poland, and Israel? That he made people mad at him by questioning England’s Olympic preparedness and Palestinian culture? Anything else? Did you know he made a rather substantive speech in Poland outlining some of his key principles? Whether you are for him or against him, I would think that would be worth at least some coverage. Here is an example of more substantial reporting and analysis from columnist Kathleen Parker:
“Your nation has moved from a state monopoly over the economy, price controls and severe trade restrictions to a culture of entrepreneurship, greater fiscal responsibility and international trade,” said Romney.
“When economists speak of Poland today, it is not to lament chronic problems but to describe how this nation empowered the individual, lifted the heavy hand of government, and became the fastest-growing economy in all of Europe.”
Romney pointedly spoke of the “false promise of a government-dominated economy,” the importance of stimulating innovation, attracting investment, expanding trade and living within means. . . .
Romney also liberally sprinkled terms that correspond to two of the most important Catholic social justice principles: subsidiarity and solidarity.
Subsidiarity, in addition to being one of the features of federalism, also refers to the theological belief that nothing should be done by a larger, more complex organization that can be accomplished as well by a smaller, simpler organization. As developed by German theologian Oswald von Nell-Breuning, the principle is based upon the autonomy and dignity of the human individual and emphasizes the importance of small institutions from the family to the church to labor unions.
Inasmuch as the welfare state is an instrument of centralized government, it is in conflict not only with personal freedom but also with Catholic teaching, as John Paul II noted in his 1991 encyclical “Centesimus Annus.” He wrote that the intervention of the state deprived society of its responsibility, which “leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”
All of this history and understanding were bound up in Romney’s few, carefully selected words — and Catholic voters surely heard them. They also would have heard “solidarity,” which resonates among America’s working-class Catholics who were inspired by Poland’s labor-led uprising in the 1980s. In what can only be viewed as a crowning achievement, Romney was endorsed by Poland’s former president and iconic labor leader, Lech Walesa. . . .
Romney’s message to voters by way of comments to our allies was that big government is the enemy of individual freedom, both economic and, clearly, religious. While the nation’s gaffe-seekers were enjoying a few moments of snark, Romney was articulating foundational principles with none other than the most prominent community organizer of them all.