Political Animal


July 26, 2012 10:04 AM Will Mitt’s Trip Become His Own Apology Tour?

By Ed Kilgore

So much for Mitt Romney’s low-profile, non-controversial trip to Europe, eh? Let’s remember what he said about his own parameters for behavior overseas:

“While I’m on foreign soil, I’m very careful not to be critical of my own government’s policies,” Romney said. “I would be even more remiss if I were to be critical to any other government’s policies. I will instead look forward to an exchange of ideas.”

Yet in the course of about 24 hours, Romney’s had to put out a fire set ignited by his staff’s alleged trash-talking about Barack Obama to British journalists, and now has managed to offend British Prime Minister David Cameron over the UK’s Olympics preparations.

As The Guardian’s Owen Gibson reports:

The prime minister has hit back at comments from the US presidential candidate Mitt Romney querying Britain’s readiness for the Olympics, urging the country to “put its best foot forward” and ensure they are remembered as “the friendly Games”….
Romney said the fallout from the G4S security fiasco and a threatened strike by immigration officials were “disconcerting” and questioned whether British people would get behind the Games.
“Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? And that’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin. It is hard to know just how well it will turn out,” said Romney.
But Cameron, who was due to meet Romney later on Thursday, said: “In terms of people coming together, the torch relay demonstrated that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games but this is a United Kingdom Games. We’ll show the world we’ve not only come together as a United Kingdom but are extremely good at welcoming people from across the world.”
Cameron said he was going to make this point to Romney when he met him later on Thursday.

Looks like Mitt is well on his way to exposing the incompetence and fecklessness—not to mention the constant apologizing—of the Obama administration in its dealings with other countries.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • james on July 26, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Subtext is: "I ran an Olympics so I have the experience to run all the Olympics, and I just don't understand why London didn't call me sooner to take charge. I'm entitled to it!"

  • Diane Rodriguez on July 26, 2012 10:20 AM:

    In a continuing demonstration of his diplomatic sensibilities, Mitt moves on to a little slap and tickle with the Queen.

  • Hedda Peraz on July 26, 2012 10:20 AM:

    Apparently, Mitt has acquired a taste for shoe leather.

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  • c u n d gulag on July 26, 2012 10:28 AM:

    Between his and his staff's gaff's about the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, one wonders if they're ready to be "International Prime Time Players?"

    When he gets to Germany, I wonder what Mitt’s people have prepared for him to say to The Kaiser?

    ‘Watch out for them evil Moooslims from the Ottoman Empire?’


  • T2 on July 26, 2012 10:28 AM:

    arrogant. Mitt's specialty. Can't wait until he gets to Israel.

  • jcricket on July 26, 2012 10:31 AM:

    Jesus. Can't the guy even be a gracious visitor for a week? Does he have to insult his host the minute he arrives? What an entitled buffoon. Oh, but ..American Exceptionalism means he can be a jerk. Yeah, that's it!

  • June on July 26, 2012 10:32 AM:

    Did I ever have any doubt Mitt would be in over his head with even this lightweight trip? None.

  • Lance on July 26, 2012 10:35 AM:

    I wonder if Mitt will be appologizing for suggesting it is a crime to buy legal guns?

  • stormskies on July 26, 2012 10:36 AM:

    of course no one is the USA will see what is below .. a commentary in the German newpaper Der Spiegel

    07/25/2012 06:17 PM

    European Tour:
    Romney's Trans-Atlantic Policy Needs a Reboot

    A Commentary By Annette Heuser and Tyson Barker

    Likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will visit the United Kingdom and Poland at a time when the GOP's policy toward Europe seems to be trapped in the days of the Cold War. It will be a chance for him to update his outdated views.

    Mitt Romney's first foreign tour as the Republican Party's likely presidential candidate includes visits to two European states. While designed to send a message to potential voters at home, particularly blue-collar Reagan Democrats in the Midwest, the trip will be about photo opportunities. Romney's visit to London is meant to echo his own successful management of the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and play into a campaign narrative built on executive experience and sober business acumen.

    His visit to Gdansk and Warsaw will highlight the triangle that broke the back of communism: the Polish people's courage, their Catholic faith and Western resolve. Not coincidentally, Polish-American immigrants dot the landscape in important battleground states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.

    Romney's visit will inevitably draw parallels to that of candidate Barack Obama, who on a visit to Germany in July 2008, resolutely declared on the steps of Berlin's Victory Column that he is a "citizen of the world." Now the Republican candidate has an opportunity to articulate his vision for US relations with Europe, which has so far remained underdeveloped and reliant on dated platitudes.

    Cold-War Rhetoric

    At the moment, Romney's European policy hints at a worldview more reminiscent of 1982 than 2012. In a March interview, Romney described Russia as the US's "number-one geopolitical foe." More recently, one of his top defense surrogates warned of the creeping Soviet threat in the Arctic. Another stated that the Obama administration's decision to opt for a phased adaptive approach to missile defense was abandoning "Czechoslovakia."

    Individually these unfortunate statements are meaningless, but taken together they represent a worldview that is tinged with Cold War-era tropes. The Romney camp seems to overlook that Russia's accordance of access to the International Security Assistance Force's northern distribution network has been essential to the continuation of the mission in Afghanistan. His campaign also fails to remember that recent arms reductions in the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty make the US military more effective and the world safer, and that Russia's entry this month into the World Trade Organization forces Moscow to accept higher standards for the rule of law.

    That is not to say that US-Russia relations are unproblematic. Russia's obstinacy in the face of the Syrian civil war runs counter to the humanitarian responsibility incumbent upon the United Nations Security Council's permanent members. The Kremlin's new, restrictive laws on non-governmental organizations and internet freedom also call into question even the most basic commitment to civil society. And the country's endemic corruption is worrisome. Indeed, Russia's relationships with the US and Europe are complex and wrought with difficulty. They cannot be boiled down into simplistic, anachronistic sound bites.

    Lack of Vision

    In Poland, Romney is expected to criticize the Obama administration's reset policy with Russia. In fact, US and Polish approaches to Moscow have hewed closely together. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has stated that his country started its own reset with Russia in 2007 and paved the way for the US to follow a similar path. Even in conservative Poland, Obama's approval rating stands at 50 percent, up from George W. Bush's 41 percent dur

  • stormskies on July 26, 2012 10:38 AM:

    Lack of Vision

    In Poland, Romney is expected to criticize the Obama administration's reset policy with Russia. In fact, US and Polish approaches to Moscow have hewed closely together. Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski has stated that his country started its own reset with Russia in 2007 and paved the way for the US to follow a similar path. Even in conservative Poland, Obama's approval rating stands at 50 percent, up from George W. Bush's 41 percent during his last year in office, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey.

    Apart from criticizing Obama's Russia policy, the most remarkable feature of Romney's vision is his lack of approach. His 48-page document outlining his foreign-policy strategy does not once mention the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or the European Union. That will certainly be a source of concern for his European hosts, two of the largest members of both organizations and countries with two of the largest troop contingents to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

    The one bright spot in Romney's trans-Atlantic vision has been his public call for a trans-Atlantic free trade agreement, a major positive agenda item that is sure to find support from Europe's most important leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    But Romney has yet to address what role his administration would play in tackling the euro-zone crisis, now the most serious foreign-policy challenge for the US. Instead, Romney campaign rhetoric has used Europe as a foil in domestic-policy debates over debt and public spending: "We are increasingly becoming like Europe," he has said. "Europe is not working in Europe. It will never work here." He has stated that he would not allow America's national balance sheet to be exposed to the euro-zone crisis, but the US is already exposed indirectly through trade, banking ties and returns on foreign direct investment. Romney will inevitably have to articulate a policy that recognizes America's continued role as a European power.

    Once upon a time, the Republican foreign policy brain trust was replete with some of the greatest minds on US relations with Europe. It was the creative tension in America's center-right foreign-policy establishment from realists such as Henry Kissinger and Brett Scowcroft, to strident Cold Warriors such as Jeanne Kirkpatrick, to brash pragmatists such as James Baker that drove successful American foreign policy in the latter half of the Cold War, eventually leading to an unequivocal geopolitical triumph for the West. Today, however, the Republican candidate's relations with Europe have been relegated to vague pronouncements. Romney's trip to Europe gives him a chance to change that.

    Annette Heuser is executive director, and Tyson Barker is director of trans-Atlantic relations at the Washington, DC-based Bertelsmann Foundation.

  • June on July 26, 2012 10:50 AM:

    Thanks for pointing us towards it, Stormskies - now we've seen it! :) Reading it now at the link, and this certainly jumps out at me:

    Even in conservative Poland, Obama's approval rating stands at 50 percent, up from George W. Bush's 41 percent during his last year in office, according to the Pew Global Attitudes Survey.

  • biggerbox on July 26, 2012 11:01 AM:

    Romney's the kind of guest who, when invited over for dinner at your house, wonders out loud about the peeling paint on the steps and whether you will be able to get that leak in the porch roof fixed before the rot gets to the rafters.

    Jeez, Mitt. How hard would it have been to say some pretty non-committal words about how the entire world is looking forward to a wonderful Olympics and that you are happy to be in London?

    Every single day, Mitt Romney does more to convince me he's really a nasty, selfish bastard inside.

  • kevo on July 26, 2012 11:06 AM:

    I wonder when the British Press will pin the moniker, Yankee Twit, upon the dear ol'Mitt! -Kevo

  • hells littlest angel on July 26, 2012 11:07 AM:

    The Telegraph reports that Cameron also said, “Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

    In American English, I believe that's, "Sit the fuck down and shut up.

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  • biggerbox on July 26, 2012 11:22 AM:

    Gotta love that Cameron comment.

    So, for those keeping score at home, on the first day in his first attempt at showing us he could handle the diplomatic responsibilities of the Presidency, Romney managed to tick off the Prime Minister of our closest ally to the point where he chose to belittle him personally in the press.

    Great job, Mitt. Maybe you'll have better luck in "Czechoslovakia."

  • T2 on July 26, 2012 11:22 AM:

    Wow....that German article is an amazing trip back in time to when United States Media employed actual journalists that reported reality and let the chips fall. I'd forgotten what a researched, in depth yet succinct story sounded like. None of the "both sides" crap.
    In today's American Media the statement "Today, however, the Republican candidate's relations with Europe have been relegated to vague pronouncements.", would be followed with "And the Democratic candidate has also had some vague pronouncements".

    Thank you Stormskies!

  • james on July 26, 2012 11:26 AM:

    @Hells: Salt Lake City is not in the middle of nowhere. According to Brigham Young, it is "the place."

    I'm sure Mr. Cameron's remark will push Utah solidly into the Romney . . . oh, wait. Never mind.

  • Werewolf on July 26, 2012 11:39 AM:

    "Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive. " From The Telegraph, a TORY newspaper.

  • burro on July 26, 2012 11:48 AM:

    There's Anglo-Saxons, and there's Anglo-Saxons. Some Anglo-Saxons run a half assed Olympics, (according to certain other superior Anglo_Saxons), and some Anglo-Saxons save the Olympics for all mankind.

    Welcome to our world Britannia. You've got a world class Etch A Sketching liar in your midst. I'm afraid the U.S. is going to sweep this one. But you can induct him into the Anglo-Saxon Trueblood Hall of Fame, (asshole division), and keep him over there if you want.

  • Bill on July 26, 2012 12:16 PM:

    Daily Telegraph (which is significantly right of PM Cameron) said it best: Romney charm offensive is 'devoid of charm and mildly offensive'.

  • J on July 26, 2012 1:17 PM:

    My quote was going to be the same as Bill's (above) I really don't thnk Romney is ready for prime time and now we know why his handlers keep him away from regular people here when he makes a campaign stop!

  • TCinLA on July 26, 2012 1:35 PM:

    Thanks, Willard, for demonstrating once again that the way to understand Mormons is to remove the second "m". You're as much a success in the UK as your old man was when they had to bring him down from Glasgow because he was a failure as a missionary.

  • TCinLA on July 26, 2012 1:42 PM:

    Great comment in the Telegraph article, that had Romney said that to Margaret Thatcher, she'd have "handbagged him."

    But trust to Brits to come up with a good one we can all use: "devoid of charm and mildly offensive."

  • james on July 26, 2012 1:51 PM:

    A. Sullivan has posted a quote that Mitt is not planning to attend the equestrian event in which his wife has a horse.

    Ann is probably pleased she will have only one horse's ass to contend with at the event -- the better behaved one!

  • CharlieM on July 26, 2012 2:06 PM:


    So much for that special "Anglo-Saxon" understanding that the Mittster has and Obama (being the suspected Kenyan muslim socialist that he is) will never understand.

    Oh wait, I get it. That special understanding involves being an entitled, condescending a**hole towards Europeans.

  • Judge 77 on July 26, 2012 2:27 PM:

    Bush III, the son Barbara never had.

  • 2Manchu on July 26, 2012 2:40 PM:

    Before his trip is over, Mitt will play the "we saved your ass in World War II" card.

  • james on July 26, 2012 3:33 PM:

    Buzzfeed.com has a report -- with photos -- of 2002 SLC Winter Games pins with Mitt's likeness on them, the first time (probably the only time) a local Olympic organizing official authorized pins with his own likeness on them.

    Now I am beginning to see that Mitt's gaffes and stumbles are calculated to distract attention from the London Olympics and make everyone look at him instead. In his own mind, HE is the only important event in all of human history.

  • davidp on July 26, 2012 3:35 PM:

    This is maybe an inevitable consequence when a gazillionaire decides on a political career. He's been surrounded by sycophants and flunkies for so long that he has forgotten how to talk to a wider audience and to adjust his words to normal people's sensibilities.

  • jhm on July 27, 2012 6:55 AM:

    WM Romney also showed his foreign policy, CinC chops by referencing the not-on-his-agenda, super secret meeting with the head of MI6.

  • Joseph on July 27, 2012 4:31 PM:

    I speak English, read British history & authors, but my family came from eastern Europe (I am Jewish). Does that handicap me in understanding the Anglo-Saxon connection? (On second thought, Britain has been Anglo-Norman since 1066.)