What a delight to see a post on National Review’s The Corner entitled “Culture Does Matter” by none other than Mitt Romney.

It is Romney’s reply to the faux furor the media created yesterday over the candidate’s very important remarks in Israel linking culture to prosperity. The mainstream media was determined to treat what Romney said as a gaffe. And, predictably, Israel’s much poorer next door neighbors, the Palestinians were outraged.

But Romney is not backing down. He writes:

During my recent trip to Israel, I had suggested that the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity, and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it. In some quarters, that comment became the subject of controversy.

But what exactly accounts for prosperity if not culture? In the case of the United States, it is a particular kind of culture that has made us the greatest economic power in the history of the earth. Many significant features come to mind: our work ethic, our appreciation for education, our willingness to take risks, our commitment to honor and oath, our family orientation, our devotion to a purpose greater than ourselves, our patriotism. But one feature of our culture that propels the American economy stands out above all others: freedom. The American economy is fueled by freedom. Free people and their free enterprises are what drive our economic vitality. …

The linkage between freedom and economic development has a universal applicability. One only has to look at the contrast between East and West Germany, and between North and South Korea for the starkest demonstrations of the meaning of freedom and the absence of freedom.

It’s a terrific post and it sets forth economic ideas that could not contrast more vividly with those of a president who believes that, if you have a business, you did not build it. Romney believes that free individuals can build things and create prosperity.  

For those who rely on the mainstream media and thus thought Romney’s recent trip abroad was nothing more than a gaffe-a-thon, Kathleen Parker has a corrective column. Kathleen writes:

[Romney’s] speeches and comments in both Poland and Israel were testaments to the strength of U.S. alliances based on shared economic principles, as well as a rebuke to Obama’s perceived lack of conviction regarding same. Romney pounded his free-market message by noting Poland’s heroic struggle for freedom against an oppressive government. He made clear the point that individual freedom, rather than government largesse, had created one of the strongest economies in Europe.

As for why the Palestinians are poor, read John Podhoretz’s “Romney Was Right about the Palestinians.”  Podhoretz observes:

You want a political culture that works to create conditions under which an economy can thrive? Since signing the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, Israel has spent two decades working to unshackle its economy from its socialist roots, with remarkable results.

The Palestinians? They’ve created what the House Foreign Affairs Committee has called a “chronic kleptocracy,” with foreign aid and investment shamelessly stolen and diverted to the bank accounts of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and its gangsterish local strongmen.

According to Jim Zanotti of the Congressional Research Service, Uncle Sam has given the Palestinians $5 billion since 1994. We might as well have lit a match to most of it. It hasn’t gotten to the people who might’ve used it best; it’s simply served as personal financial lubricant for the folks in power.

You want a healthy social culture? The Middle East Media Research Institute has spent decades detailing the diseased messages emanating from Palestinian TV and textbooks, instructing children in the glories of suicide terrorism against innocent Israelis.

The mainstream media seems to think that Romney’s “gaffe” in Israel could cost him big. I dunno. People might be ready for somebody who believes people have the capacity to build things themselves.