Fred Kaplan joins the chorus of criticism aimed at Mitt Romney for his entirely substance-free speech at the Virginia Military Institute, which his campaign had billed in advance as a very important address that would spell out his firm grasp of the issues — and in reality did the exact opposite.
Mitt Romney has delivered a lot of dishonest speeches in recent months, but Monday’s address on foreign policy may be the most mendacious yet.
It was expected that he would distort President Obama into a caricature of Jimmy Carter. But it was astonishing to watch Romney spin a daydream of himself as some latter-day George Marshall, bringing peace, prosperity, and hope to a chaotic world—this from a man who couldn’t drop in on the London Olympics without alienating our closest ally and turning himself into a transcontinental laughingstock.
To the extent that Romney recited valid criticisms of Obama’s policies, he offered no alternatives. To the extent he spelled out specific steps he would take to deal with one problem or another, he merely recited actions that Obama has already taken.
The New York Times reported the day of the speech, citing interviews with several Romney advisers, that there were two primary reasons why the speech contained nothing but meaningless platitudes about strength and resolve. The first is that Romney just doesn’t know anything on the subject. The second is that his huge phalanx of foreign policy advisers is strongly divided between serious professionals who understand the complexities of the challenges, and nuts like John Bolton whose only advice is to bomb the shit out of everyone and everything we don’t like.