The bad news: It’s only mid-April and not only are we averaging one new outrageous outrage per day, they’re getting progressively dumber. This one will be hard to beat but stay tuned tomorrow. The good news: The more of these point-and-sputter fiascos there are, the more coverage there is of the political “outrage” industry and the savvier voters become about tuning it out as manufactured crapola. I’m seeing many more meta-stories lately in political media about the contrived nonsense involved in pushing “I’m offended” narratives and sustaining them for electoral advantage. That’s all to the good. The more the public dismisses them as campaign-orchestrated ploys, the less incentive there is to engage in them in the first place.
Romney met with local residents Tuesday at an outdoor roundtable event at the Bethel Park Community Center. He guessed that a plate of cookies set on the table was from “a local 7-Eleven bakery or whatever.”
As it turns out, the treats were from Bethel Bakery, a longtime South Hills staple known for its signature pastries, cookies and cakes.
“When I heard it, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. This guy has no idea how beloved this institution is that provided these cookies,'” said bakery owner and president John Walsh. “We wanted him to be welcomed with the best in the burgh, and he had no idea.”…
“We had a customer on Facebook say, ‘Maybe he’s just used to eating cookies with diamonds in them,'” said Walsh.
Click the image below to watch the clip and you’ll see that Romney’s clearly teasing about the cookies. Even the bakery’s spokeswoman seems to be treating it as a big joke, which makes this a rare Daily Outrage where even the “victim” isn’t pretend-outraged. Otherwise, though, it’s predictable in all particulars: The Democrats are feigning disapproval, conservatives have hijacked the relevant Twitter hashtag and are having fun rubbing liberals’ faces in it, and everyone even tangentially related to the story is looking to capitalize. It’s almost a meta-outrage in itself: No one’s actually offended but everyone knows what to do in these situations, so they’re doing it.
Exit question: Is the Daily Outrage process self-perpetuating? The reason I think campaigns push idiocy like this is because voters are overwhelmed with news in multiple formats. You never know what’ll make it through that wall of information and into their voting consciousness so you’ve got to push everything you have, no matter how minor and moronic. No one will remember this story tomorrow but maybe the attention paid to it will subtly color a few swing voters’ impressions of Mitt. The goal isn’t to convince anyone that Romney hates small business or mom-and-pop bakeries or whatever but rather to convince them in broad terms that Romney’s a jerk, with that conclusion hopefully influencing their assessment of Mitt in various ways going forward. (That’s the strategy behind their obsession with Seamus the dog too, needless to say.) Problem is, the more of these kerfuffles there are, the more they add to the volume of news dumped on voters, which means campaigns feel even more pressure to kitchen-sink their opponents with every dumb, possibly damaging story available. Politics in the age of new media — catch the fever!