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U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (L) and U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney share a laugh before addressing the Republican National Committee State Chairman's National Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona April 20, 2012. REUTERS/Joshua Lott (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
"Oh, John, I do so enjoy our time guffawing uproariously together."
At first glance, you might think that this means John McCain was giving Mitt Romney a rebuke:
It’s government, “not cultures” that define the difference between Israelis and Palestinians. That’s according to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who appeared to differ with presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney as he tried to defend him.
That's because Romney, in Israel, took the exact opposite position as McCain, telling supporters at a fundraiser that Israelis are wealthier than Palestinians in large part because they have a superior culture. Romney went on to make it clear that he wasn't singling out Palestinians for insult: he also said that Mexico is poorer than the U.S. and Ecuador is poorer than Chile because they have inferior cultures to their neighbors. So he was being an equal opportunity dick.

Nonethless, when McCain spoke, he wasn't trying to disagree with Romney. Instead, he simply couldn't believe—or couldn't bring himself to publicly acknowledge—that Romney had actually said what he said.

“I am sure that Gov. Romney was not talking about difference in cultures, or difference in anybody superior or inferior,” said McCain, a chief Romney foreign policy surrogate, today during a news conference after an event here with Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). “What I’m sure Gov. Romney was talking was that the Israeli economy has grown and prospered in a dramatic fashion. And unfortunately, the Palestinians have not had that same economic development.

“And that goes to the leadership of the Palestinians. Everybody knows that Yasser Arafat was corrupt. And we also know that the Palestinian people have not been blessed with the kind of government that has lower regulations, less taxes, entrepreneurship, which have caused the Israeli economy to be one of the world’s most successful. It has nothing to do with cultures. It has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority. But facts of the booming Israeli economy has to do with the kind of government that the Israeli people have freely and democratically elected which has given them a very prosperous country.”

Of course, McCain was dead wrong. Here's what Romney actually said:
“Culture makes all the difference,” Mr. Romney said. “And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.”

“As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” he said.

Maybe John McCain can't believe Mitt Romney is actually dumb enough to have said what he said—to have insulted three nations on three different continents—but despite McCain's protestations to the contrary, that's exactly what Romney did. Even Newt Gingrich recognized that fact when he defended Romney's remarks. But not John McCain—and that's worth keeping in mind when you consider the fact that McCain not only vouched for Romney today, but he's also vouched for Romney's tax returns as well.

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