Romney trip had one gaffe, many successes

August 4, 2012


— At the outset of his recent foreign trip, Mitt Romney committed a gaffe. In answer to a question about the Olympics, he expressed skepticism about London’s preparations. The response confounded and agitated Romney supporters because it was such an unforced error. The question invited a simple paean to Olympic spirit and British grit, not the critical analysis of a former Olympic organizer.

Soon that initial stumble was transmuted into a metaphor for everything that followed. The mainstream media decided with near unanimity that the rest of the trip amounted to a gaffe-prone disaster.

Really? The Warsaw leg was a triumph. Romney’s speech warmly embraced Poland’s post-communist experiment as a stirring example of a nation committed to limited government at home and a close alliance with America abroad, even unto such godforsaken war zones as Afghanistan and Iraq, at great cost to itself and with little thanks.

Especially little from the Obama administration, which unilaterally canceled a Bush(43)-era missile-defense agreement with Poland to appease Russia. Without any overt criticism of the current president, Romney set out a foreign policy of radically greater appreciation of and fidelity to American allies.

Yet all we hear about Warsaw is the “gaffe”: two phrases uttered by an aide, both best described as microscopically rude. At The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a pack of reporters hurled questions of such journalistic sophistication as, “What about your gaffes?” To which Rick Gorka suggested that the reporters kiss his posterior, a rather charming invitation that would have made a superb photo op.

The other offense against human decency was Gorka’s correlative directive to “shove it.”

The horror! On the eve of the 2004 Democratic Convention, Teresa Heinz Kerry offered precisely that anatomically risky suggestion to an insistent Pittsburgh journalist. Not only did she later express no regret, but Hillary Clinton reacted with: “Good for you, you go girl.”

So where’s the Romney gaffe? Is what’s good for the Heinz not good for the Gorka?

And at his previous stop in Jerusalem, Romney’s speech was a masterpiece of nuance and restraint. Without directly criticizing Obama, Romney drew pointed distinctions deftly expressed in the code words and curlicued diction of Middle East diplomacy.

He declared flatly that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. The official Obama position is that Israel’s capital is to be determined in negotiations with the Palestinians. On Iran, Romney asserted that Israel has the right to defend itself. Obama says this as boilerplate. Romney made clear he means it — that if Israel has to attack, the U.S. won’t flash the red light before nor punish Israel afterward.

What about the alleged gaffe that dominated reporting from Israel? Romney averred that Israeli and Palestinian economic development might be related to culture. A Palestinian Authority spokesman obligingly jumped forth to accuse Romney of racism, among other thought crimes.

The American media bought it whole, despite the fact that Romney’s assertion was a direct echo of the U.N. Arab Human Development Report, written by Arab intellectuals and commissioned by the U.N. It unambiguously asserted that “culture and values are the soul of development.” And went on to report how existing cultural norms — “including traditional Arab culture and values” — are among the major impediments to Arab economic progress.

The report deplores the rampant corruption, repressive governance and lack of women’s (and human) rights as major contributors to backwardness in the Arab world. (In the Palestinian case, it faults Israeli “occupation,” but a U.N. document that doesn’t blame Israel for every Palestinian sorrow, if not the world’s, has yet to be written. Moreover, that excuse doesn’t work for today’s occupation-free, Palestinian-run Gaza.)

Is there any question about Romney’s assertion? PLO/PA corruption is a legend. Palestinians are repelled by it. Why do you think the PA lost the 2006 (and last) free election?

Romney’s point about “culture” was to highlight the improbable emergence of Israel from resourceless semi-desert to First World “startup nation,” a tribute to its freedom and openness.

Look at how Romney was received. In Israel, its popular prime minister lavished on him a welcome so warm as to be a near-endorsement. In Poland, Romney received an actual endorsement from Lech Walesa, former dissident, former president, Cold War giant, Polish hero. Yet the headlines were “shove it” and “culture.”

Scorecard? Romney’s trip was a major substantive success: one gaffe (Britain), two triumphs (Israel and Poland) and a fine demonstration of foreign policy fluency and command — wrapped, however, in a media narrative of surpassing triviality.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Maddy Griffin 5 years, 9 months ago

One gaffe? Go back to school and learn how to count.

Orwell 5 years, 9 months ago

"Liberal Lamestream Media"? Is that the best you can come up with? Maybe you didn't notice that this piece of subjective right wing bias was published and syndicated by the Washington Post.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years, 9 months ago

Do we have to pay royalties to Sarah Palin every time we use the term" Lamestream Media"?

Alyosha 5 years, 9 months ago

"Everyone knows?" No. An accurate statement would be "some people believe." Belief and knowledge are not the same thing. That first clause should read, to be accurate, "Some people believe and assert without evidence..."

Your phrase "Liberal Lamestream Media" is wholly without objective meaning. First, if you can't define "Liberal" as you are using it hear, your claim is simply hot air no reasonable person need pay any attention or respect to.

Second, define specifically the media outlets you believe are "mainstream." FoxNews certainly falls under that category. Who specifically are you talking about? If you cannot detail which media outlets you mean, again, your claims and thoughts are wholly without serious merit and deserve zero respect.

Third, if you bother to look it up, the voters who are misinformed to the greatest degree are FoxNews viewers. They consistently have no factual understanding of national and international events.

All in all, Born's comment is riddled with unexamined beliefs that render it wholly disregardable. A perfect example of ideology parading itself as thought.

beatrice 5 years, 9 months ago

"A perfect example of ideology parading itself as thought."

Sweet -- game, set and match for Alyosha.

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 9 months ago

Pomposity and pretentiousness? Really?Lookedin the mirror lately???

Alyosha 5 years, 9 months ago

Yep, typo of "hear" for "here." That's a straw man argument, though, for the main points of my critique of your comment. You suffer the same fault, using "foo" instead of "for." I'll let that pass, because it's a common human mistake when typing.

That said, you have a tendency to make sweeping generalizations that are invalid on their face(s). You write that I appear to "believe everythign the Liberal Lamestream Media tells [me]." You have zero way of knowing what media outlets I frequent. B) You still haven't defined what you mean by "lamestream," nor "liberal," nor even "media." If you can't define your terms, you have no business using them.

Sorry you take it as arrogance when someone asks you to define your terms you throw around. But if you can't define them, you aren't in control of what you're saying. That's not my problem but rather yours, as a writer.

I'll criticize and critique anyone who deploys meaningless partisan terms they can't define.

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

Probably the most lame media event has been Fox news calling itself news. Every-time they talk about people not being able to believe the main stream media I think, especially since Fox started howling. Either they are denying they are main stream or denying they aren't real news. They areacknowledging their effect on how people perceive the news makers as carnival barkers, Fox barks a lot.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

"On the eve of the 2004 Democratic Convention, Teresa Heinz Kerry offered precisely that anatomically risky suggestion to an insistent Pittsburgh journalist."

Refresh my memory again, Kraut. How did that election work out for Kerry?

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 9 months ago

Romney alienated the British, kow towed to the extreme right in Israel (might as well have bowed), and muddled around Poland for no apparent reason.

Good trip.

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

Hahahahaha! How did I know this was going to be a Krauthammer piece?

So is that why the London Sun newspaper called him "Mitt the Twit"?

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

I have a feeling that Britain was gunning for him before he ever set foot in the country. Anybody else notice the elaborate tribute to National Healthcare in the opening ceremony?

progressive_thinker 5 years, 9 months ago

I had the feeling that the tribute to national healthcare was a jab at the US in general.

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't know if their pride in their health care system is fabricated on the off chance the Romney boy would watch. That is just goofy thinking. When that was being planned Romney was still on the bench with the pious, racist and the sexis That is really far fetched. You are actually think the Brits used subtle messages in their opening as a secret snub to Romney. O boy. No, no no, I don't think he was stepping into hostile territory, the Olympics was his home turf and the Brits were close friends with the US. They just didn't like what he said, when he said it, and how he said it. No they weren't gunning for the clown. That is such odd reasoning I wonder if you ever read what you type aloud before you hit post.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

If the British were eligible to vote in our next presidential election, I guess we'd all be bowing to Queen Elizabeth.

Mitt may well be a twit. And Obama is certainly a failure. And I could care less what the British equivalent of FOX and MSNBC has to say.

chootspa 5 years, 9 months ago

Let's elect a president with no diplomatic skills. I'm sure that will work out well. After all, we can just ignore the rest of the world. They don't vote.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

It seems I've inherited my own personal troll. Does it come with a mini troll as well?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

It would appear that your new rule for this column is that no one can post anything that doesn't agree 100% with your views, or you get all whiny.

Orwell 5 years, 9 months ago

More important, they don't make mega-cntributions to right wing propaganda machines.

voevoda 5 years, 9 months ago

Krauthammer missed Romney's biggest gaffe in Israel: He endorsed their health care system, which is set up quite like "Obamacare."

jayhawklawrence 5 years, 9 months ago

I would not consider putting nuclear warhead tipped missiles in Poland and trying to restart the cold war a gaffe.

A gaffe is something that you can laugh about and forgive.

I can come up with a long list.

Romney also wants to dramatically increase our military spending when we already outspend all the military budgets of all the nations on the Earth.

We don't seem to be interested in Peace as much as we used to be. We seem more interested in conquest. Or am I just imagining this?

Alyosha 5 years, 9 months ago

Curious that the writer never once mentions how the military occupation of Palestine influences economic development / growth there. No one but a partisan hack would leave that out of the discussion, as both Romney and the writer here do. To blame an amorphous "culture," and leave out a decades-long military occupation that burdens economic development and liberty of the population (in a way no American, including the Romney supporters on this web site, would tolerate for themselves), is simply shoddy thinking and worthy of zero respect.

K is not interested in any kind of truth, but rather in advancing his own political interests, which disqualifies him from any serious consideration or respect.

One wonders why the LJW continues to run his pieces.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Maybe a fair comparison would be of the two cultures that existed in that region prior to WW II. Or compare communities comprising the two cultures in foreign lands. Maybe look at a Jewish community in France and compare it to a Palestinian community. Or here in the U.S.

BTW - I have no interest in doing such a comparison and have no idea what the results might look like. But for those who do think it's worth the time and effort, have at it. You may prove Romney correct or incorrect.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Why, yes, that'd be every bit as useful as any of the other apples-and-oranges comparisons you're so fond of.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

How can I be fond of something when I said I had no interest. You just feel the need to criticize, even should we agree. Your's must be a bitter world.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

If you have no interest in it, why did you propose it? That makes no sense.

BTW, grow up and quit with the petty insults.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

I made a suggestion. If you don't like it, ignore it. It wasn't directed at you. If you want to make a suggestion of your own, then do that.

BTW - The petty insults started when you said I was fond of making apple and orange comparisons. As I've told you many times, if you want a civil conversation, I will engage in one. If it's petty insults you throw, you will receive in kind. As always, it's you choice.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

If you don't want others commenting on your suggestions, my suggestion is that you not make them on a public forum such as this.

Otherwise, I made an observation, based on my reading of many of your posts, that you have a liking for apple-and-orange comparisons.

You, on the other hand, have absolutely no knowledge of my personal life, but (out of bitterness?) chose to characterize it as "bitter."

Well, at least that's consistent with your penchant for apple-and-orange comparisons.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

I don't at all mind you commenting on my suggestions. And if you think they are apples and oranges, why not contribute something useful and make a better suggestion. Or explain exactly how you think my suggestion is inappropriate. But criticism without explanation coupled with nothing positive to add to the conversation is useless.

Comparisons between cultures, races, ethnicities, gender, religions, class, etc. are made all the time. I didn't invent them. Romney didn't. If Romney's was ill conceived, as Alyosha suggested, and you think my ideas are also wrong, then say something, Bozo. Say something useful.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

"I don't at all mind you commenting on my suggestions."

The facts would indicate otherwise.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

Your first comment to me, Bozo, was less than useful. It was a snarky remark, off topic and not at all intended to engage in a civil conversation. Prior to that, yo were not involved in the conversation at all. I told you then as I've told you many times before, if it's a civil conversation you want, then it's a civil conversation you will get. I don't at all mind your comments as long as they are civil. But after too many of your unsolicited snarky comments, I've decided to respond in kind. Civility will beget civility. Hostility will beget hostility. Your choice.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 9 months ago

Translation: Don't disagree with me or I'll throw a tantrum.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 9 months ago

You didn't disagree with me. You said nothing.

Mike Ford 5 years, 9 months ago

nothing like looking in the toilet and watching something spin......right chuck????

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 9 months ago

Oh GAWD! I HAVE to remember this one. I laughed so hard I cried.

camper 5 years, 9 months ago

This is a pretty big gaffe in my opinion. He looks like a goofball talking about GDP per Capita in a political visit. In my opinion it looks like he is pretending.

beatrice 5 years, 9 months ago

I like that Chuck is reminding everyone about Romney's gaffes, even if he doesn't see them as such. Chuck should write frequently about Romney's gaffes. Should he by chance become president, lord knows others will be.

I just don't understand why Romney didn't stick around long enough to watch his wife play with her fancy horse. Is it because he is waiting until the Republican convention to unveil his tax breaks for all fancy horse owners platform?

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

My favorite is the guy yelling Kiss my a, you are on sacred ground, show some respect.

Mike Ford 5 years, 9 months ago

americans recognizing sacred ground.....really???? heck they don't even do that here in Lawrence, KS......

pace 5 years, 9 months ago

Does anyone recognize this as gaffe?

"doesn’t plan to watch his wife’s horse compete in the upcoming Olympics".

“It’s a big, exciting experience for my wife. I have to tell you, this is Ann’s sport,” Romney said. “I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well.”

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