Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I can see that this was meant as a calculated attack, but it's a gaffe -- though, as a gaffe, it's a logical by-product of the kind of foreign trip Mitt Romney's campaign put together:
Mitt Romney would restore 'Anglo-Saxon' relations between Britain and America

... In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one [Romney adviser] suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.

"We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special," the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: "The White House didn't fully appreciate the shared history we have".
The Romney people want to bait Obama as "foreign," but the use of "Anglo-Saxon" is a bridge too far -- saying that, instead of the usual "Anglo-American," is going to elicit negative responses in the center as well as on the left, and it's going to upset, among other people, some Jewish voters who might otherwise be receptive to Romney's message -- a voter group Romney is courting on this trip.

Now, what exactly is Romney doing on this trip? Honing his foreign policy chops? No. He's opening a few more fronts in his Fox/talk-radio-style war against Obama. The entire trip is meant to push wingnut hot buttons. There's literally nothing else going on here.

What's his itinerary? England, Israel, Germany, and Poland. That's it -- no other Middle Eastern countries, no India, no Pacific Rim, no Africa. Roy Edroso explains that the whole point of going to England is to embody wingnut rage:
Romney's advisors say that as President Romney "would seek to reinstate the Churchill bust displayed in the Oval Office by George W. Bush but returned to British diplomats by Mr Obama when he took office in 2009." They're still going on about that bust, even though it was meant to be returned all along and no one gives a shit except the two million conservatives who blogged about it at the time. In fact, all of this nonsense is a rehash of one of the more ridiculous rightwing fits of 2009, when the Obamas were alleged to have dissed Queen Elizabeth because something something no curtsey, thereby shattering what had once been a great "Anglosphere" alliance of Christopher Hitchens and anybody else who didn't like wogs.
Oh, and:
Mr Obama has appeared less interested in relations with London than Mr Bush. He repeatedly rebuffed Gordon Brown when the then-prime minister sought a meeting at the UN in 2009 and was criticised for responding to an elaborate gift with a set of DVDs that did not work in Britain.
The right-o-sphere has never gotten over that.

Israel? Obviously he's going there to make the point that Barack Obama hates Jews (a point being reinforced by a multimillion-dollar ad campaign bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson that aims to persuade Jewish voters of the same thing).

Poland? Well, as The New York Times noted a few days ago,
In Warsaw and Gdansk, he will make a play for Catholic and Polish voters (a big constituency in Pennsylvania and Michigan), Republican political strategists say.
This is also linked to the American right's "We are all Catholics now" notion (Obama wants to force churches to pay for birth control!), as well as to the right's Ronald Reagan fetish (Reagan and a Polish pope ended the Cold War is, on the right, a plain statement of fact).

Germany? I imagine Romney's going there to celebrate austerity -- ignoring the fact that German austerity coexists with a social safety net that's much more extensive than even the one that the big commie Obama maintains. Romney won't note that Germany actually did this as the crisis spread:
They extended the "Kurzarbeit" or "short work" program to encourage companies to furlough workers or give them fewer hours instead of firing them, making up lost wages out of a fund filled in good times through payroll deductions and company contributions.

Romney won't mention or acknowledge that. Romney's remarks throughout the trip will be pure Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. He's not even going to pretend to be broadening his base of knowledge about the world. He's not even going to fake gravitas. It's going to be pure revanchism from beginning to end.


Victor said...

Does anyone remember the old adage about criticizing the President from foreign lands – ‘Political criticism stops at the water’s edge”?
Does anyone think that Mitt’s entire tour will be nothing but non-stop Obama-bashing?

The only things Mitt knows less about than national issues, are international issues.
And that makes him an even more dangerous man – because, to his base, the Right-wing Wurlitzer, and Conservatives in general, nothing is more respected than boldly broadcasting your ignorance as loudly and threateningly as possible to the largest audience.

Leaders around the world must be looking at America, with a Mitt Presidency a distinct possibility, and Mitt’s economic and foreign advisors, and thinking, ‘Oh no! Not AGAIN! You guys just gave us one clue-free, sociopathic simpleton with daddy-issues, with an ego as wide as an ocean and knowledge and forethought an inch deep, and less ability to handle a crisis than a gibbering baboon with ADD.
What is wrong with you people? Why do you think it’s a good idea to try this again?’

Ah, but they've forgotten the definition of “insanity!.”

And we are an insane nation, doing the same things and expecting different results – and overflowing with weapons and pride in our own exceptionalism – which means that the rules, NO rules, apply to us!

A Romney presidency may make us look back fondly at W’s.
Bush was doubling-down nationally and internationally on Reagan’s policies. Mitt will be doubling down on Bush’s.

And if that don’t scary ya, I don’t know what will.

Steve M. said...

A Romney presidency may make us look back fondly at W’s.

The worst president in American history is always the next Republican president.

Ten Bears said...

Could he be going to "Israel" to kiss the our owners' feet? Or some other point of their anatomy?

I no longer have a lot of confidence in what we euphemistically call the "country", but I will vote this fall, and I will vote for the man (or woman) who puts America's interests before Israel's.

Steve M. said...

"Our owners"?

If he wants to kiss the asses of the owners of this country, all he has to do is go to a reunion of his MBA class. Or a gathering of his super PAC donors.

Peter Janovsky said...


Great word.

ploeg said...

Long overseas trips in the middle of a campaign do not typically end well for the candidate.

But perhaps the strategy is for Mitt to "disappear" for a while so that Mitt doesn't drive down his poll numbers any further.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Charles de Gaulle, the modern French, and Hispanic immigrants are agreed the English speaking white people of El Norte are all Anglos, for varying reasons of political expediency or historical ignorance.

Romney here speaks for the Nativist bigotry that held in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries that nobody but Anglos ought to be allowed into America.

That idea was inherited in our time by a central strand of conservatism that deludes itself that, culturally and politically speaking, the Nativists were right and actually won their struggle.

America’s true blue values, they tell us, are those of Evangelical Protestantism and the Appalachian people.

Its true blue political values are found in Edmund Burke’s hysterical denunciation of republicanism and democracy in favor of monarchy and aristocracy that his King found most useful in justifying nearly 30 years of war for continental absolutism against the French Revolution and all its works.

Everything else is un-American and so, of course, anti-American, they tell us.

Like socialism, secularism, and all those other foreign isms.

The truth is that nobody but American conservatives has dared talk this way since the Anglo-Saxon and Teuton racists of 19th Century Europe died off – in Berlin, in the Fuhrerbunker, in 1945.

And it seems all the more weird when you consider the leading role in modern conservatism of Irish and Italian Catholics.

Philo Vaihinger said...

In Germany, Romney will probably lay down a wreath of mourning for the Aryan SS heroes who died fighting Slavic and Jewish Bolshevism in defense of European Christian civilization.

Right next to the one put there by Ronald Reagan.


Philo Vaihinger said...

I don't get the reference to revanchism, by the way.

It's from the French for "revenge" and refers to a common French nationalist outlook after France lost Alsace-Lorraine in the Franco-Prussian War.

Steve M. said...

I don't get the reference to revanchism, by the way.

I'm using "revanche" in the broader sense: "A usually political policy, as of a nation or an ethnic group, intended to regain lost territory or standing."

BH said...

Sure do, Philo. Ronnie's Bitburg cemetery routine was, I always thought, of a piece with his opening his presidential campaign of '80 in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Heavy on the "Anglo-Saxon roots", either side of the Atlantic.