Mitt Romney is Desperate to Show That He's a True Believer

| Thu Aug. 2, 2012 11:30 AM EDT

A couple of days ago Mitt Romney suggested that Palestinians were poor because of their culture. Then he walked it back. Then he doubled down. Then the pointy-headed elites weighed in. Romney was misrepresenting the books he based his argument on, they said. One of the authors, Jared Diamond of Guns, Germs, and Steel fame, even took to the New York Times to say so himself. Romney's riff on his book was so far off, Diamond said, "that I have to doubt whether Mr. Romney read it." But Dan Drezner, who almost (almost!) betrays a bit of vicarious sympathy for the beatdown Romney is getting, says it doesn't matter:

Will this make a whit of difference in the campaign? That depends entirely on whether you believe that voters still respond to cues from elites... so for me the answer is "probably not."

Ah, but this was never a play for elite opinion, except maybe in the sense of assuring voters that Romney isn't part of the fuzzy-headed, PhD-wielding, social science wimpocracy. Romney was basically suggesting that Palestinians are lazy and violent, and that's why the milk and honey doesn't run through their land. It was a crass shoutout to the Christian right, the Jewish right, and the neocon rump, all of whom already basically believe this. Romney is just sending a not-so-subtle signal that he's one of them.