Romney, Secretary of State: Recall 2012 Gaffes Abroad?

Jon Stewart,  The Daily Show

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will be meeting with President-elect Trump this weekend to discuss a possible post as Secretary of State.

Ah, the good old days… Remember the 2012 elections? How pedantic they seem in comparison. Based on Trump’s appointees thus far, Romney looks like a reasonable choice — not extreme. This seems to be the new bar.

“Senior Republicans said Sunday they had no concerns about their new ticket’s foreign policy chops, amid claims that presumptive nominee Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have less experience in that area than any GOP standard bearers in decades,” The Hill said in an August 2012 article.

In 2012 the American people were also concerned the Republican Candidate may have trouble in his role as a statesman abroad. Instead of reading or hearing pundits talk about the past rift between the two men, the more interesting and relevant angle seems to recall the history journalists penned during the 2012 election.

Romney made several gaffes during his trip overseas during his presidential campaign.

So, is this another case of knowledge-gaps making bedfellows?  Romney and Trump are both experienced businessmen, not foreign policy wonks. How is this a win for the American people and international leaders, who are already weary of a Trump presidency?

PBS Newshour spoke to the challenges of Romney’s 2012 trip overseas:

“The fact is, a challenger who lacks foreign policy credentials doesn’t have to match a sitting president’s international battle scars. All he or she has to do is appear plausible to the voters as a potential commander in chief.

It may seem tempting to reach for that image with a high-flying foreign trip, meeting with world leaders to sagely discuss the challenges ahead. So I went looking for examples.

But it turns out that the only candidate to do that in the last 40 years was Barack Obama in 2008.”

Obama’s trip overseas as a candidate is the exception; I awaited candidate Trump’s stately trip abroad. It never happened — with the exception of Mexico, where he came off presidential despite creating controversy.

Whatever you think of Obama’s foreign policy, he educated himself on foreign affairs and introduced himself to world leaders while on the campaign trail, and he flew. Romney, unfortunately, fell short in his attempt.

We need ‘the exception’ as president. The world yearns for ‘the exception’ as its leader, as exampled by Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize nine months into his presidency. That is not our reality today, but a competent steward abroad is a realistic request. And there should be a real public discourse about it, considering the global stakes.

Just what were Romney’s missteps during the trip abroad?  A few quotes from reporting history circa 2012:

  • Romney’s stop on friendly British soil — to meet with America’s longtime allies and bask in the pomp of the Olympics — should have been the easy part. Instead, he seemed to careen from one unforced error to another. Particularly irksome to his British hosts was his questioning whether London was ready to pull off a successful Olympic Games. The baying British press had a field day. “Mitt the Twit” screamed the headline in the Sun. The Times headline dubbed him “Nowhere Man.” –PBS
  • Israel brought more controversy. In one of the great stage-crafting moments of his campaign, Romney delivered a stout defense of Israel’s right to exist. He warned Iranian leaders that weaponizing the country’s nuclear program would lead to war. –CNN
  • However, Romney also outraged Palestinians leaders with his talk of Jerusalem as the undisputed capital of Israel. He commented at a fundraiser in the same city that “culture” can partly explain the economic disparity between Israelis and Palestinians, inflaming the already raw feelings in the region. CNN

Who cares if Romney and Trump are making nice and affording the president-elect a chance to showcase his fairness quotient. Let’s start asking the right questions.

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