Mitt Romney’s Wawa gaffe and the perils of swing states

For balance, here is a picture of Mitt Romney hugging a baby.

A video of Mitt Romney describing his fascination with Wawa stores has been making the rounds this week, particularly among people already disinclined to be charitable to the Republican nominee. In it, the former Massachusetts governor speaks about the convenience chain in a manner akin to a child describing a car-wash:

Where do you get your hoagies here? Do you get them at Wawas? I went to a Wawas — anybody been there? … I went to Wawas, and I went in to order a sandwich, you press the little touch-tone key pad. You touch that, and the sandwich comes out. Touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier, there’s your sandwich! It’s amazing!

This whole thing obviously matters to you only if it confirms your worst biases against Romney. (Turns out the pol was making a point about the efficiency of private businesses.) But it can’t fail to bring to mind another pointless gaffe from the politician Romney has most often been compared to: John Kerry’s infamous trip to Pat’s in 2003, in which the Dem from Massachusetts committed the unforgivable sin of ordering his cheesesteak with Swiss cheese. What is it about Philly culture that makes politicians stumble?

Part of it is the obscure, unknowable rules that even locals can’t wrap their minds around. Why exactly is “Passyunk” pronounced the way it is? Why can you put pepper and onions on a cheesesteak, but lettuce and tomatoes are unthinkable? How do you say “jawn” differently than “John”? And, unlike New York or L.A., Philly culture doesn’t spread through mass media. Our memes stay our memes; we don’t force them on anyone else.

But a greater part of it is, well, that politicians are boobs. National candidates travel all across the country, screwing things up wherever they go. It would be impossible for them not to; there are so many small local customs in this country that only a robot (hey!) would be able to keep them all straight. But — and this is crucial — these boobs only go where they think they’re needed. We’re a swing state: Politicians mess up in Pennsylvania because they’re here pandering to Pennsylvanians. The day politicians stop committing embarrassing gaffes in Philly is the day we’ve ceased to matter on the national stage.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…