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June 03, 2011 3:15 PM ‘Awfully European’

By Steve Benen

In his kickoff speech yesterday, Mitt Romney used the word “European” often enough to make one wonder if he’d developed some sort of nervous tick. When it comes to politicians and uncontrollable references, Giuliani has “9/11,” Biden has “literally,” and apparently, Romney has “European.”

He’s sticking with the line today.

Mitt Romney ridiculed President Barack Obama for his “awfully European” economic policies at a town hall Friday morning, using the May unemployment report to beat up on the White House. […]

“When the Europeans were in trouble economically, they spent more money and they borrowed more money. That’s just what he did,” Romney said. “He has been awfully European. You know what? European policies don’t work there. They sure as heck aren’t going to work here.”

I like to think Romney is probably a fairly intelligent person, which is why it’s frustrating to watch him do a poor imitation of a dumb person.

Perhaps Romney is a little behind on current events — he does, after all, think we’re in “peacetime” — but Europe has been Austerity Central. European countries have slashed public investments to reduce their debts, and the results haven’t been pretty, with austerity failing to produce the intended results.

But therein lies the more salient domestic point: President Obama doesn’t want to follow the European model; Mitt Romney does.

Indeed, this is proving to be quite common. House Speaker John Boehner argued recently that the United States should follow Europe’s lead on nuclear energy. Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) said quantitative easing from the Fed must be a bad idea if Europe doesn’t like it. For News president Roger Ailes said President Obama should take his cues on monetary policy from Europe. And all kinds of Republicans, on and off Capitol Hill, have implored Democrats to adopt the budget policies of a European country.

Romney, I’m afraid, is terribly confused. There is a group of Americans who’ve been “awfully European” lately. They’re called Republicans.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • martin on June 03, 2011 3:16 PM:

    As we've already determined Republicans live on another planet, it is probably the case they just have a different Europe there.

    Mr Captcha appears to believe it is Enuess World

  • Holmes on June 03, 2011 3:19 PM:

    It's just a variation of the "other" hobby horse, which Republicans have to push regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

  • emjayay on June 03, 2011 3:22 PM:

    "For News president..."?

    Reread. Edit. Reread.

  • emjayay on June 03, 2011 3:24 PM:

    And anyway, European policies don't work here because our economies and political systems are.......more or less the same?

  • TCinLA on June 03, 2011 3:27 PM:

    Bear in mind Romney's religious background and how much interbreeding there is among the long-term families, and the fact he's an idiot makes perfect sense.

  • Trollop on June 03, 2011 3:29 PM:

    I wonder if Mitt here has visited any of the Mormon temples abroad? Frankly, it doesn't sound like he has. Even European Magic Underpants are enough to at least coerce a faltering admission that there is a world beyond the Retarded States of America!

  • Tom Parmenter on June 03, 2011 3:33 PM:

    I just want to say I absolutely HATE your new practice of running some random tv clip with sound and an introductory ad every time I pop over here. Really!

  • Eeyore on June 03, 2011 3:36 PM:

    What Holmes said!

    This ain't new. Remember in 2004 when the Bushies sneered about how Jean Francois Kerry looked "French"? Back then "French" was a dogwhistle word for elitist, latte-loving, effete, lazy, cowardly people.

    I wonder if Mittie will feel he has to out-nutjob Bachmann and Palin by claiming Paul Revere rode around Lexington and Concord New Hampshire warning that the Socialist French were going to violate the 2nd Amendment by taking away our guns?

  • SecularAnimist on June 03, 2011 3:45 PM:

    Romney is pandering to the Ditto-Head Tea Party brownshirts. He doesn't have to make sense. He just has to push the buttons that Fox News has programmed.

    Get used to it. He's going to be doing it for the next year or so.

  • SYSPROG on June 03, 2011 4:02 PM:

    This is not just the 'republican line'...Mitt has ALWAYS done this. His 'handlers' give him a talking point, he goes out and parrots it, the 'media' or 'blogosphere' goes crazy, he backtracks and then the loop begins again. The man NEVER had an original thought, a deep value or any kind of belief system. He spouts what he's told and whines when he's caught.

  • Rich on June 03, 2011 4:18 PM:

    Despite or because of his endless and obvious attempts at marketing, he seems destined to continue receiving ridicule from the press and the GOP base. In many respects, he should be the perfect media mancrush--conventional handsome, a serious "business man, etc. Despite the strong polling, the lack of GOP base enthusiasm and the media ridicule would make him easy to beat. If anyone bothered to look at his business history, he would be come a quickly withering target as Ted Kennedy happily learned when he went after Mittens' offshoring of jobs. the alck of attention to his feeble business resume suggest how feeble the media really is. In contrast, his father helped rebuild American Motors and probably enabled it to survive through the 60s and onward as long as it did.

  • Dredd on June 03, 2011 4:53 PM:

    Perhaps he was in reference to one of the agencies of government USEUCOM which handles a lot of the treasury cash flow?

  • cmm on June 03, 2011 4:55 PM:

    I believe you are mistaken, all evidence points to Mitt NOT being a "fairly intelligent person"

  • MEL on June 03, 2011 5:11 PM:


    A short, comic YouTube animation discussing the Republican field, including Mitt:

    Political Parade

  • LL on June 03, 2011 5:46 PM:

    Romney is clearly suffering a severe case of "focus-group syndrome." I think he's had this malady for some years now.

    He appears to be regurgitating talking points from focus-groups with tea-partiers. Romney always struck me as a soulless greed-head. Observe his record as an investment manager. He mostly bought companies, dismantled them, fired everyone, then took them public again, and made a killing. Or something like that. He has all the morality of a sand-shark. And all the charisma of a bag of Portland cement.

  • June on June 03, 2011 5:47 PM:

    Looks like 2008's "rock star" has become 2012's "European." How to take the amazing spectacle of 100,000 Irish cheering our president and turn it into a negative? Derisively sneer, "European." Romney - what a hack.

  • Barbara on June 03, 2011 5:57 PM:

    I am pretty sure that this is Mitt's idea of what he assumes is a non-racist way of saying that the President isn't a real American. Of course, for people like me, the whole fact that this line of attack is tried at all is inherently racist, but I assume Mitt has different tripwires than I do when it comes to defining where the line between ugly and racist begins.

  • Roddy McCorley on June 03, 2011 6:09 PM:

    "Awfully European"??? I thought he was "anti-colonial" and "Kenyan."

    I wish they'd make up their minds...

  • max on June 03, 2011 7:21 PM:

    Mitt Romney: �When the Europeans were in trouble economically, they spent more money and they borrowed more money. That�s just what he did,� Romney said. �He has been awfully European. You know what? European policies don�t work there. They sure as heck aren�t going to work here.�

    Running against Europe. That's the plan. Good grief. I don't think anyone in Germany is jealous of our healthcare insurance system that causes us to spend twice as much as they do, our rotting infrastructure, our pathetic mass transportation, or our impending GOPer-sponsored bankruptcy.

  • Alan Wilkov on June 03, 2011 10:05 PM:

    He didn't mention that Germany , Sweden, and Canada, weathered the economic down turn far better than the United States has . All of them have universal health care with much lower per capita costs than we do .
    The financial regulations they have in place helped to mitigate the effects of the global slowdown . Romney was born into privilage he has no idea of what people like me go through . He's runs a leveraged buyout firm who's activites result in more layoffs than anything else . HIs economic record in Mass was poor in regards to job creation. Some of his pronouncements regarding foreign policy have been roundly criticized from across the political spectrum as lacking in substance.

  • Dutchgirl on June 03, 2011 10:23 PM:

    So Romney is an idiot for saying this tripe, but this post is no better for suggesting that "Europe" is some monolithic entity. Germany's economy is not comparable to
    Spain's or Italy's, and the UK's austerity measures are way more severe than in other hard hit countries. Ireland still refuses to increase corporate taxes, while other countries are raising them. There is no "Europe" as a single entity, and the EU is not all powerful either. /rant.

  • j on June 04, 2011 7:11 AM:

    Totally agreed, but one of the more ludicrous statements made by Romney is his statement that we need his job creation skills - my god have you googled his record on job creation in Massachusets and in the private sector?
    I cannot understand why he is not being challenged on this! The talking heads on TV keep saying that Romney (as a businessman) really knows how to create jobs - a blatant lie!

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