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.
(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.)