The Headline Vs. The Story

Ken AshfordElection 2012Leave a Comment

In case you didn't know, this country is facing a serious drought problem.  Drought conditions plague 78% of the country.  This is making it hard for the farmer.

So Mitt Romney decided to make it a campaign priority.  And last week, he visited a farmer In Iowa who walked him through the deplorable conditions.  Under the headline "Iowa Farmer Gives Romney Tour of Drought-Stricken Cornfield", the Des Moines Register reported the events:

As Romney stepped out of a black SUV at a field on the southern edge of Polk County this morning, [corn and soybean farmer LeMar] Koethe told him: “We need you like we need oxygen.”

Koethe and Northey gave Romney a quick tour of Iowa’s deteriorating corn crop, handing him an ear of corn that should be twice as big with far more kernels.

And, oh look… a picture of Romney shaking hands with Farmer Koethe (also standing there is the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey)

Now, in case you might be thinking that Romney was doing something un-Romney-esque, and sticking up for the little guy (in this case, the little farmer), then think again.

Here's some things you should know about Farmer Koethe.

First of all, Koethe doesn't own one farm; he owns 54 of them.  But that's only one of his jobs.  Koethe is also a described as a millionaire, a real estate mogul, and a former concert promoter who booked acts like Slipknot at his 24,000 square foot event center.

Furthermore, Koethe lives in a spaceship house. It might not have a car elevator like Romney’s planned home, but it’s got its own car wash bay and recreation center:

Here’s how the home was described by the Environmental Design Group:

Arguably one of the most distinctive homes in Iowa-if not the nation-this personal residence takes unique architecture to a new level. It contains an underground garage equipped for multiple vehicles, as well as a car wash bay.The lower level also contains a large recreation center with an art display area.Grade-level entry provides access to the elevator and a spiral staircase rising 35 feet to the main living area. The main level provides an amazing panoramic view of the area.

Not your typical farmhouse.

Finally, according to figures from the EWG Farm Subsidies database, Koethe has received $130,575 in conservation payments from the federal government. Conservation payments, which add up to about $5 billion in federal spending each year, are typically used by the government to encourage farmers not to grow crops — sometimes to stabilize prices and sometimes to preserve land.

Now, I don't doubt that the drought is affecting Koethe just like it is effecting other farmers.  But is this really the best optic for Romney?  Can't he — just for once — worry about the American who isn't a multi-millionaire?