• Romney’s gaffes abroad are reminiscent of “Cookiegate”, but writ large. At the time, I wrote this, but it still seems to fit. Invited to Britain, Romney’s first impulse is still to insult:
No, I believe this behaviour is something indicative of Romney himself, some flaw in his own character. This goes beyond simply being tacky or rude, it goes beyond mere bad manners. Romney would, if all this were explained to him, be simply unable to comprehend what it was that he had done. I don’t think he could understand it because, on a fundamental level, I don’t think he is “one of us”. There is something broken there, some disconnect that has him unable to grasp the simplest of human concepts, that of hospitality.
…If you’re tempted to write this off as just another “‘Gate”, just another blip in the news cycle, think of this: provided Romney wins the presidency (and I don’t think that’s likely, thankfully), this is the guy that will be charged with dealing with not only the heads of state of other countries, but will be America’s face with those cultures, those communities. If the guy can’t navigate the simple task of sitting down around a table of hand-picked people from his own party without saying something tacky, obnoxious, rude, mean-spirited and downright small, what are the chances he can behave with grace and dignity on the world stage? Just think of all the people he could offend. Just think of the damage he could further do to the American image abroad. I’ve met quite a few Americans over the years. Some have been truly awful examples, but the vast majority of American people I’ve known have been decent people, good people, and Americans deserve better than Mitt Romney.
• Not content to just diss the Brits, Romney disses his wife, in interview with NBC: “It’s a big, exciting experience for my wife. I have to tell you, this is Ann’s sport,” he 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. But just the honor of being here and representing our country and seeing the other Olympians is … something which I’m sure the people that are associated with this are looking forward to.”
Not exactly the first time he’s done it either:
• Romney, 2007: The United States is in danger of becoming a “second-tier” nation like Britain and other European countries if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, according to Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential contender
• [W]hat Mitt Romney said about Great Britain in his 2010 book No Apology: The Case for American Greatness: England [sic] is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions. Yet only two lifetimes ago, Britain ruled the largest and wealthiest empire in the history of humankind. Britain controlled a quarter of the earth’s land and a quarter of the earth’s population.
More on the blunder:
• Romney questioned the enthusiasm of the British public. “Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment?” he asked. “That’s something which we only find out once the Games actually begin.”
• PM Cameron, on Romney’s gaffe: “We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”
• Facepalm: Meanwhile, the Republican candidate enjoyed a “broad and wide-ranging” conversation with William Hague, according to his campaign. They discussed Syria, Egypt, the Arab Spring and “their mutual love of Kit Kat bars“.
• Guido Fawkes is reporting that Romney’s aides have been forced to cut the price of tickets for tonight’s fundraiser from $25,000 to $10,000 in order to sell the final few. They quote an email from an unknown Romney organiser trying to put the discount in the best possible light
• Shut your gob!: Eyebrows going up about Romney’s claim to have met the Sir John Sawers, the chief of MI6. Asked about Syria by an American reporter whether he and Cameron spoke about Syria and he replies: “I appreciated the insights and perspectives of the leaders of the government here and the opposition here as well as the head of MI6“.
• What indeed: For our American readership, this isn’t like bragging you just met David Petraeus. The British take on the national secret intelligence service comes with an extra-heavy dollop of the whole secret thing. The very existence of the MI6 was not officially acknowledged until 1994. Good luck, Romney handlers: this is only stop No. 1 on a three-stop international tour. What will he say in Jerusalem?
• London Mayor Boris Johnson – I hear there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready?
• John Podhoretz @jpodhoretz – Romney in London. Come on. We needed this. It’s a little comic relief. Kind of like Mr. Bean, only he’s an American.
• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) – “It’s not good for us as a country — it’s not good for him — but as a country to have somebody that’s nominated by one of the principal parties to go over and insult everybody,” Reid said.
• Like Romney’s ‘gaffes’ before the NAACP, is the Olympics trip in the same vein? Insult the British in order to strike a pose in the US?: Two of Mitt Romney’s top surrogates told reporters Thursday the Romney campaign’s not worried about the torrent of negative press surrounding Romney’s visit to London. Americans don’t care about foreign press, they said. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell defended Romney from the embarrassing headlines in London on a press call set up by the Romney campaign.
• Romney also met Ed Miliband, the leader of the oppositon Labour party. Miliband took questions from two reporters from what he called “my side”, but Romney would not take questions from US journalists. At one point, Romney called Miliband “Mr Leader”, which prompted suggestions he had forgotten Miliband’s name.
• 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.
• There are two things you should know before you “look out of the backside of 10 Downing Street“, as Mitt Romney did on Thursday. Firstly, in Britain, “backside” means “ass”. As in the part of the body. Secondly, “10 Downing Street” is often used in political reporting as a synonym for a press spokesman for the prime minister, in the same way as “the White House” can say things or have opinions.
• Janice Turner @VictoriaPeckham – So Mitt Romney disses our Olympics. We’re the Special Relationship, the easypeasy bit of US foreign relations. How will he deal with China?
• “The Nation Of Great Britain” – That was Romney’s phrase. No such nation exists. The nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all nations under the United Kingdom (since 1800). It’s always a good idea when visiting a country to call it by its rightful name. Mitt’s total cluelessness abroad is as striking to me as the vacuousness of his foreign policy “ideas”. I bet you his Likudnik madness on Greater Israel didn’t go down well in Downing Street either.
• James Chapman (Mail) @jameschappers – Serious dismay in Whitehall at Romney debut. ‘Worse than Sarah Palin.‘ ‘Total car crash’. Two of the kinder verdicts #romneyshambles
• James Chapman (Mail) @jameschappers – Another verdict from one Romney meeting: ‘Apparently devoid of charm, warmth, humour or sincerity‘ #romneyshambles #mitthitsthefan
• Krauthammer, on Romney gaffes: “unbelievable, it’s beyond human understanding, it’s incomprehensible – I’m out of adjectives.”
Some other things that happened:
• President Barack Obama will sign a bill to strengthen U.S.-Israeli military cooperation on Friday on the eve of a visit to Israel by his Republican presidential challenger, Mitt Romney.
• Right wing gets in a froth over Obama FACT that the government, and government research, created the internet. The right wing, as usual, are WRONG. ARPANET. It’s a real thing in the world.
• Citizens United: “If we can ask [our soldiers] to [go to Afghanistan], we can ask the Koch brothers to put up with some impolite blogging,” Whitehouse said, provoking a rare bit of applause in a Senate subcommittee hearing.
• Mitt Romney delivered a major foreign policy address this week before the Veterans of Foreign Wars. While the speech was notable for lacking in substance and facts, Romney also ignored one important constituency sitting before him: veterans. “We haven’t … heard any specific plans yet from Governor Romney or his campaign,” said Bob Wallace, executive director at the Washington office of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, echoing the sentiment of many advocates.
• Pentagon’s 30,000-pound bunker-buster ‘superbomb’ ready for use. The Pentagon has spent $330 million to develop and deliver more than 20 of the precision-guided Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bunker-busters, which are designed to blast through up to 200 feet of concrete. Although there has previously been a bigger nuclear device, the new conventional rocket is six times the weight of the previous bunker-buster used by the US Air Force, and carries an explosive payload of 5,300 pounds.