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Aug 02 2012

How could Romney have blown his foreign trip?

On the surface, Romney’s recent foreign trip must have seemed a no-lose proposition. Go to England, pander to the English and bask in the aura of the Olympics which has played a big part in his resume, then go to Israel and pander to the Israelis, and then go to Poland. The Poland leg of the trip puzzles me, frankly. Why Poland? What was to be gained by going there? It has been suggested that the Poland leg was meant to enhance his appeal to white working class voters but Lech Walensa has been out of the limelight for ages. Given the level of political amnesia here, how many people in the US now would know anything about him or of Poland’s history?

Why not Mexico, to make overtures to a voting bloc that his party has alienated big-time? Why not Germany, to show that he can deal with critical Eurozone issues? Why not India or Japan or South Korea to show his familiarity with the rising influence of the Asian continent? It is too much to expect him to have gone to a country in Africa. That would have required an imaginativeness that seems completely beyond him.

But still, what could go wrong with a series of photo ops? But then, as we know, he blew it, making both minor and major mistakes that made him look awkward and incompetent. The danger for Romney is not the missteps themselves but that they will create a narrative arc of bumbling that reporters will use to frame their stories. Once an impression like that gets formed, it is hard to change.

David Rothkopf, CEO and editor at large of Foreign Policy (very much an establishment journal), has some harsh words for the Romney campaign, calling on him to fire his staff.

What’s more, the repeated foreign-policy misstatements and the missteps on this trip undermine one of Romney’s main selling points. Supposedly, his experience as a chief executive and manager has helped prepare him to run a government better than the “community organizer” commander-in-chief he regularly attacks. But to date — between these problems and the mindboggling mismanagement of his financial disclosure — there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that this is a well-run campaign. Quite the contrary: It’s a mess, regularly producing bad headlines and failing to take advantage of the abysmal state of the economy — a campaign gift that should, on its own, give him a solid lead in the polls right now.

Needless to say, The Daily Show had fun with Romney’s trip.

Part 1:

Part 2:

(These clips appeared on July 31, 2012. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

17 comments

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  1. 1
    Randomfactor

    Why not Mexico,

    Obviously they didn’t think he could handle high-level diplomacy. Which is too bad, he coulda visited his polygamous granddad’s commune for old time’s sake.

  2. 2
    baal

    making both minor and major mistakes that made him look awkward and incompetent.

    While Romney doesn’t have Bush’s absolute inability to articulate a grammatical sentence, his ‘headline’ problem similarly embarrasses the country.

  3. 3
    Gregory in Seattle

    It was Romney: Mittakes and Mittsteps are what he does.

  4. 4
    ashleybell

    England and Israel are just about the only places in the world where he would find any support. At all. The rest of the world is not like America. We may be able to feed our own people insanity and shit, but the rest of the world has a much more accurate assesment of us.

  5. 5
    Alan(UK)

    Perhaps the reason for his making a disaster of this trip is simply that he is just not very good. After all, he only reached this position because the other inmates chose him as being the most sane one in the asylum.

  6. 6
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    How could Romney have blown his foreign trip?

    As it turns out the answer is surprisngly easily and totally.

  7. 7
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    By jus’ being himself – as far as it is remotely possible to determine what *that* is given “Mr etch-a-sketches” chamaelon proclivities.

  8. 8
    dailydouq

    He went to Poland because it’s part of “new Europe”. New Europe is mostly equivalent to former Warsaw Pact countries, but it is also defined as those countries who bought into Milton Friedman’s economics (privatize everything, as rapidly as possible, to cronies of Uncle Miltie).

    This is all part of the “shock doctrine”, also used by the neocons in Iraq, to purge any vestige of “government for the people” in newly liberated (political, newly enslaved by debt to international bankers) countries who have no choice but to accept this doctrine or be forced into bankruptcy. Sounds a little bit like private equity (in fact, if mittwit loses, maybe he can do some buyouts in Poland and raid those companies).

    This, btw, is what mittwit means by “culture”, those nations who embrace capitalism-for-rich-only and drown the government in a bathtube, so this visit was dog whistles for the right in the U.S.

  9. 9
    Sunny

    As the English papers put it: “Mitt the Twit”

  10. 10
    Charles Sullivan

    If Romney’s trip to Poland was to appeal to white working class voters, I would argue that it was not designed to reference Lech Walensa or Solidarity. Rather, it could have be designed to reference the large number of Polish (and other Eastern Europeans) who once made up a substantial number of blue collar workers in the Rust Belt.

  11. 11
    MNb0

    As a European I see one benefit of Romney becoming president: just like happened during Bush Europe will realize it cannot depend on Big Uncle Sam and will be forced to solve its own issues.
    But I still will pity you Americans.

  12. 12
    slc1

    An even bigger laugh at Romney’s expense is his praise of the health care system in Israel, which is quasi socialist (not quite the single payer system of Canada and Great Britain but close).

    Another gaffe was his belittling of the Palestinians as being poor because of their culture. I have a flash for Romney, the Palestinians, as a group, constitute the most talented people in the Arab world. The Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait, depended on the Palestinians to run their business affairs. If ever the Israelis and the Palestinians figure out how to get along with each other, the combination will dominate the Middle East economically and educationally.

  13. 13
    Hatchetfish

    How’s Mittens doing with Catholics? I could see the Poland stop as less about trying to appeal to the working class than about a Mormon trying to pick up some Catholic approval by association, without having to broadcast it -too- loudly since it’s disguised as (I have to borrow the Onion’s terms here) an unemployed american meeting with foreign head of state, not a Mormon making nice with a very Catholic country.

  14. 14
    Francisco Bacopa

    Does anyone else think this was all deliberate? We see all this as gaffes, but won’t it come across to some people as “Mitt’s not afraid to talk smack in other countries”?

  15. 15
    Mano Singham

    That may have been the plan but when the media ignores that and focuses on calling them gaffes, then there has been a failure in execution at least.

  16. 16
    Corvus illustris

    Oh, he was certainly trying to make points with “Reagan Democrats” of one ethnos or another. If the Dems can make hay of (1) the bad behavior of a Romney staffer at the Pilsudski monument and (2) the virtual repudiation of Romney (and Walesa’s apparent endorsement too) by Solidarnosc’s statement attacking Romney as a union-buster and destroyer of jobs, this episode could be a net gain for the Dems. Unfortunately, the gain could be vitiated by the usual tacit media censorship.

  17. 17
    kim

    Maybe those are those only places where anyone of importance in the government would be seen with him?
    And why is he doing the foreign visit thing – as if he were already an elected leader? Is this kind of like being an intern?

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