Why do we like to assume the worst about people and eat it up when the media dishes up anything that focuses on underhanded tactics or simple rotten-ness? I am sadly guilty of that more often than I want to admit. For me it is usually a “think the worst until I can get to the bottom of it” mentality. Fortunately, I am often able to get to the bottom of something and find nothing amiss and can then rid the negative thoughts from my mind. (Though there are admittedly times when I dig deeper and discover as much rot as I assumed, but I don’t want to dwell on those moments tonight.) Perhaps someday I will be better than I am now, and will be able to think a little more “innocent until proven guilty” after reading some news headline. I am working toward that goal little by little, but either way, the “proving” seems to be an essential ingredient.
I am a questioner. I mean, I question just about everything I come in contact with. I am sure I drove my mother absolutely batty when I reached that “Why?” phase and never grew out of it! Sometimes that trait drives me as crazy as it does those around me. It drives me crazy to have all those questions running through my mind when it is a time that I don’t have the ability to dig a little deeper and find answers to my questions. Well, tonight I dug a little deeper and decided that instead of merely sticking it in my own mind to appease my own questioning, I would also take the few minutes it would require and share it in case anyone else had the same questions I did.
I read an article tonight about a political rally for Mitt Romney that was held this weekend. The article’s title is “Romney staff refusing to let frostbitten children leave PA rally.” When I read that – just that – I couldn’t avoid the question “What?!” Naturally, I then read the article, which is little more than a collection of tweets from two reporters that were at the rally. The picture the tweets paint is bizarre to say the least and outright disturbing if they paint an accurate portrait of what was happening at that rally. Immediately I wanted to go have a darn stern ‘talking to’ with someone from the rally staff or Mitt Romney himself for allowing his people to behave so callously. Then I thought, “Wait. If this really happened, I need to know it.” That was quickly followed by, “What in the world they could have possibly been thinking?!” Then, “There had to be something going on that I am not getting from these tweets. What’s up?”
Automatically I Googled “Romney rally frostbite.” I got loads of hits and started to weed through them. I am not about to put all of those things that I looked at on here – if you want to see it all, go do your own Google search. (Caveat – I recognize the value of seeing and knowing the things that did not offer used information, but my purpose is to QUICKLY write this post and go to bed! Honestly, most of what I found was similar, though most were perhaps more vehement and venomous than the first article I had read. But almost all of them merely took those same tweets and then added their own rant based solely on the scant information provided in those tweets.)
Then I found the article I was hoping to find. It actually provided more of the background context to what was going on at that rally. It was simple, but wonderfully useful. It also included many useful links that also broadened the context for me. However, I wanted to add a few dots that connected in my mind as I looked at it all, hence this post. Between the two articles, the links in the second one, and a touch of Wikipedia, I was able to come to my place of peace for the night and can now sleep without seeing the whole world as a dark and mean place. (Melodramatic? Yes, thank you!) So here is my collection of connecting dots…
- Both of the original tweeters, that started the whole story, are reporters.
- These issues were confined to only one area of the gathering – the area that is generally for the “special people.”
- The Secret Service was controlling inflow and outflow of people from that area. That is their job. They must have a controlled environment if they are going to be enabled to protect Mitt Romney when he comes and when he goes. Again, that is their job.
- Since the tweeters were reporters, it makes sense that they would be in that same area that was under the tightest control. That area would give them the greatest access to see, hear, photograph, etc. the candidate as he gave his address.
- That level of tight control was apparently not being exercised except in that one area.
- The main reporter/tweeter in this article – in fact the one that tweeted all but one of the included tweets – is Jackie Kucinich. She is a reporter for a media outlet with a left-leaning bias and the daughter of a democrat Congressman (thank you Wikipedia for that information). This does not in essence discount her tweets, but it certainly sheds some additional light on the subject and her possible intentions in selecting the tweets she would choose to share based on her own biases.
- The mom, mentioned in Michael Barbaro’s tweet about the frost bitten girl, may have been very serious in thinking her child was literally frostbitten. But perhaps her comment may have been merely intended as an exaggeration. She may have simply been effectually saying, “It is blooming cold. I want to leave here and go warm up my kid.” Now, I can’t really go find that mom and ask her how she meant her comment, but I know I say things like that all the time. It is like when I animatedly say that “I am starving” right before embarking on a heavenly smelling meal. It seems that if the child were literally frost bitten, there should have been medical treatment reports and the like. I was not able to find any such reports. Makes me think she used that comment as a phrase, and it was not a literal reality.
- (Really random point here.) The staffer that made the comment about it not being cold enough made the comment to reporters, not to the mother of the cold girl. This was a clarification given by the tweeter/reporter, Michael Barbaro in a separate tweet later on. Though I am not sure that makes any difference, it does add context. The staffer may have been heartless and trying to justify keeping her “trapped” like a prisoner or he may have been trying to express something along the lines of, “We know it’s cold, but it is not cold to a dangerous point.” It may have been to appease the media while the Secret Service guys worked to figure out how to get people out of the high security area. I have no idea – I just like to think of the possibilities and wanted to throw a few extremes out there.
- They did eventually start letting people out. It makes me wonder if perhaps they truly were only keeping people where they were as they worked out a way to let them out, without compromising security for the main speaker. They had not expected the delay to leave people there as late as they were (or as cold, no doubt). It seems likely that once they realized that the delay in schedule had consequently created a need for some to be able to leave, they figured out a way to make that work and then put that into action. Then again, perhaps they only started letting people out because they knew it would be bad for PR. Who knows? Either way, they did start accommodating the need to exit.
- Based on my personal experiences at massive gatherings, those that are allowed in the “for special people” sections are often required to be there early and stay somewhat late. Again, this is typically because the really “important” person needs to come to a setting that is already very controlled and then leave before that control is lessened. I’ve seen it more than once for myself and if that is truly where these tweeters were, I can fully understand the “trapped” feeling of the situation. I remember one experience when I had an unfounded worry moment of ‘not sure how or if I will be able to access a restroom’ – but I digress. Since Romney had not come and gone yet, they likely had all access to that area well restricted and for good reason. Now again, I can’t be sure that is where those tweeters really were, but if it is, then I fully see and can appreciate those security personnel doing what they were hired to do. I also appreciate that eventually they arranged a means of accommodating the desire to leave expressed by attendees.
So, in essence, people were cold. They were there longer than expected. Some wanted to leave. Those in the area behind the stage were not allowed to leave at first. The Secret Service, not simply the rally staffers, eventually allowed people a way to leave even the restricted ares.
All in all, by adding additional context, I am left feeling entirely unjustified to assume some nefarious intentions were behind some bizarre detaining of the rally attendees. Too bad I think it will have plenty of press coverage for the nefarious sound of those tweets anyway. I sure wish our media would look for the good in people, while working with due diligence to find the truth either way. But I guess that is what I want from our people too. Find the truth before finding fault, it’s what you would want someone to do for you.