The Smug Ignorance Of Mitt Romney

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 2 2012 @ 11:44am

Did he really say that the Palestinians are culturally incapable of the kind of entrepreneurialism displayed so magnificently by the Israelis? Joe Klein in the best of his high dudgeon rebuts:

It’s important to distinguish Palestinian political culture from its business and professional culture.

Indeed, Palestinians are widely known, and often disliked, by their Arab brethren for their entrepreneurial ability–as well as for the disproportionate number of professionals, especially doctors and lawyers, in their ranks. Palestinians, including Yasser Arafat’s father, owned the construction companies that built the Gulf States. They dominate the business class in Jordan. And there is good cultural reason for that: Like the Jews, the Palestinians have been a displaced people. Business and, especially, professional skills are portable. They don’t depend so much on land as farming and ranching does.

As I said, Romney would have had a point if referring to recent history in countries like Saudi Arabia or the wider Arab world. It's the combination of poor manners and a little learning that tripped him up. I wonder when the last time was that Romney was personally and aggressively challenged about some platitude he just uttered. A long time ago, one suspects. Someone needs to get in there and sharpen him up.

Meanwhile, just for an exclamation point, Jared Diamond sticks the boot in.