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Thursday, August 02, 2012


Editorial | Un-Mitt-igated disaster? Romney's tour revisited

Not since William Tecumseh Sherman marched his way through the South has a leader cut quite the swath that Mitt Romney made through Europe and parts of the Middle East in recent days. But unlike the ruin that smoldered in Gen. Sherman’s wake, Mr. Romney’s damage was mostly self-inflicted and done to himself, leaving dings in the foreign-policy rep the presumptive Republican presidential nominee had hoped to burnish on his jaunt across the pond.

OK, maybe it wasn’t quite as bad as Sherman’s march, but still. Given what happened, one wonders, in retrospect, what Mr. Romney hoped to accomplish in his touchdowns in England, Israel and Poland. A Berlin moment, such as the one candidate Barack Obama had four years ago when 200,000 gathered to hear him deliver an address about the world standing as one? Well, Mr. Romney united parts of the world in his tour, too, only not in the way he wanted or expected.

In just a few sentences, the German news outlet Spiegel Online sketched the impression left by Mr. Romney:

“First, Romney took a swipe at the British, questioning their preparations for the Olympic Games and their enthusiasm. Then, in Jersusalem, he directly compared Israeli gross domestic product to Palestinian per capita GDP, attributing the Israelis’ economic vitality to their culture, while at the same time ignoring the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On Monday, Romney’s trip continued to Poland, where the left-leaning national daily Gazeta Wyborcza asked, ‘Will there be further blunders?’ ”

Past was prologue: Yes, indeed, there were.

Despite a virtual endorsement from Lech Walesa, Solidarity trade union officials seemed surprised and disappointed that Mr. Romney wasn’t a champion of the American worker and labor movement (his “corporations are people” sentiments must not have made it there yet). Spiegel Online reported their reaction: “We have learned … about Mitt Romney’s support for the attacks against trade unions and labor rights.”

And, well, the day was still young because then there was the matter with Mr. Romney’s aide and an American news media impatient after being kept more than arm’s length from the candidate for too long.

As reporters shouted questions at Mr. Romney, who studiously ignored them and probably couldn’t have been happy anyway with the contingent of Ron Paul supporters that had shown up with signs at one of his events in Warsaw (proving that, yes, Paul-ites are literally everywhere), Romney aide Rick Gorka snapped at the frothing press corps, “Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.” CNN may have gotten the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision wrong, but the tape they have on this utterance doesn’t lie.

So, something less than triumphant after his less-than-excellent adventure overseas, Mr. Romney has returned home for ... a barnstorming bus tour of the United States.

Fasten your seat belts. This could be fun.

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