The Washington Post

Romney’s ‘Wawas’ story in context, still out of touch

So, I had a good ol’ time snarking on Mitt Romney and his fascination with “Wawas.” There, on tape (well, digitally), we had the presumptive Republican nominee seemingly amazed by the popular roadside convenience store and its “touchtone key pad” for ordering hoagies. Yet that wasn’t the whole story.

There was a fella at the Pennsylvania event on Sunday who captured Romney’s “Wawas” story in its entirety. Turns out Romney was making a larger point about the difference between the private sector and the public sector in terms of  innovation and efficiency. Take a look.

After Romney says the now infamous “It’s amazing,” he goes on to say this:

People in the private sector have learned how to compete. It’s time to bring some competition to the federal government and to get it smaller, and have them respond to the customers, which are you.

There’s no denying Romney has a point. The private sector is lightyears more efficient than the federal government. It can be more innovative, too. But there’s also no denying that without an assist from government, some of the things we hold most dear (the Internet, for instance) might not have taken off. But I digress.

The “Wawas” moment holds two lessons. First, in this age of instant communication (and manipulation) it’s incumbent upon all of us, especially scribblers like me, to get things in context. The second lesson is that Romney is the victim of a narrative of his own creation.

My post highlighted the multimillionnaire’s parade of wonder across these United States. From tall men not “in sport” to “a biscuit and some cheesy grits,” Romney has provided the thread to this out-of-touch perception folks have of him. So, as amazing as Wawa (singular) might be, the audience reaction suggests that, “touchtone key pads” notwithstanding, true Pennsylvanians don’t go to Wawa for genuine hoagies.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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