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Another Mitt-Stake: Romney's 2012 World Tour

By       Message Anthony Barnes     Permalink
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Not thoughtful; not smart. 

Boston, MA -- Further evidence that Mitt's a nit-wit.  It was on July 24 that Mitt Romney touched down in the U.K. for what was to be a sort of mini-world tour designed to showcase Romney's foreign policy bona fides; resurrect fond memories of Mitt's 2002 Winter Olympics glory days; and suck a few dry C-notes from a bunch of high-rolling money-folders, specifically, casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson's peeps over in Israel. 

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By now we all know how well that worked out. Mitt carried himself with the kind of stature befitting the Travelocity Gnome. Sure, he came home lugging a several million dollar shitload of money; but that's about it. As for the remaining goals, the Romney campaign might as well have made Charlie Sheen a surrogate and sent him abroad instead. Romney's diplomatic follies during that brief Euro-Middle East tour make Sheen's crack-ish antics during his "epic" "Violent Torpedo of Truth, Defeat is not an Option" tour last year seem like an evening in Newport on smooth jazz night. 

Romney's gaffes have exceeded epic proportions. Largely on his own, he's constructing himself as the epitome of political non-acuity. Not since Sarah Palin has a politician provided such a perplexing mix of knee-slapping diplomatic hilarity and head-scratching political ineptitude both at home, and now abroad. What's more, the word from the U.K. is that Romney was "worse than Palin," making his trip perhaps the zaniest incursion anywhere by an American public figure since the Muppets took Manhattan.   

Mitt's moved beyond the tipping point of being merely objectified by his opposition; he's now become adjective-ized if you will. We've reached the point at which now, the word "Romney" is synonymous with a flood of politically negative adjectives -- inept; ignorant; detached; wooden; aloof; insipid; or thoughtless, to name a few. We're perhaps one mega-gaffe away from ushering in an era where virtually any act of downright political stupidity will be thought of as "a Romney."  

As in: "Wow! Senator So-and-So sure pulled a Romney during that speech." 

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Managing Mitt is no easy chore. Thus, not surprisingly -- in light of a campaign for president marked by the media's focus on Mitt's gaffes and overall political ineptitude -- there have been no calls from the Romney campaign that the press "let Mitt be Mitt." More likely, Mitt's handlers stay locked in a constant state of fingers, arms, and leg-crossed readiness in expectation of the next amazingly "WTF" remark that would force their crafting of yet another rhetorical walk-back. Eric Fehrnstrom, a key Romney advisor who once was a beat reporter for the Boston Herald -- my hometown's seedy sister publication of the even seedier New York Post -- perhaps finds himself challenged in a way not experienced since his days of twisting and re-angling his local reporting to fit the Herald's conservative agenda-driven agit-prop. 

But how does one spin such an ironclad fiasco? Mitt was uproariously laughed out of England after his snooty remarks about British preparedness for the Olympics. In Israel, his yada-yada about Palestinian/Israeli cultural differences, Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and his eagerness to unload a bit of shock and awe on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left knowledgeable Middle East watchers in open mouthed amazement at the level of naivete implicit in his remarks. 

And let's not get started about Mitt's press stooge who blew Romney's chance to at least dash out of Poland unscathed by insisting that questions from reporters were, as they say in Poland, zakazany because at the time Mitt was on "sacred grounds." Apparently being on sacred grounds was ground enough for said stooge to admonish those who ignored him to "kiss my ass!" 

"Culture" Shock 

There are many allegories and old sayings that offer thought-provoking insights into everyday life: "It is easier to believe than to go and ask," for example. Or, "you can't get blood from a stone." Mitt's performance as a candidate may result in yet another -- "You can't transform the mindset of a businessman into that of a politician." 

Nevertheless, if businessman Mitt wants to play politician, he needs to come as one. Mitt has traveled the world on many occasions appropriately wearing expensive, well-tailored business attire. For his Euro-Middle East tour, he may as well have worn a clown suit. What that trip proved is that Mitt needs to fundamentally change how he thinks in a way that actually moves him away from what is perceived as his greatest strength -- his business background. 

This means divesting himself of his businessman's persona and investing in that of an actual politician. 

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Mitt embarked on his tour probably taking enough financial acumen and standard business-related accoutrements to fill his oversized Rimowa luggage. But, whatever political smarts he's accrued during all the years he's been running for president were obviously left behind; perhaps unable to be squeezed into that luggage. And regrettably for Mitt, diplomatic and political aptitudes aren't items that can be strapped to the roof of an airplane.  

The hidebound ignorance revealed by his overseas blunders -- most famously, the shibboleth Mitt pitched in Israel regarding Jewish and Palestinian cultures -- provides, as Romney would put it, a "marvelous" example:

"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000 dollars, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality."

Ignore the fact that, like his mis-prognosis of the fate of a bailed-out U.S. auto industry, the businessman was also completely wrong on the GDP per capita numbers; but do take note of the terms employed by Mitt here: GDP, per capita, economic history and economic vitality. That's Mitt the businessman speaking; but it might as well have been Joe the Plumber.   

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)

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