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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oops, he did it again

If the goal of Mitt Romney's foreign trip was to be the Ugly American, he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Romney doubled down on his criticism of security at the London Olympics, and his fast day red meat speech at Jerusalem's Western Wall to take on the grandaddy of all Mideast blood feuds: declaring that Israel's "culture" was the reason the Jewish state was more successful than its fledgling and struggling Palestinian neighbor.

It was the equivalent of a child sticking a finger into an electric socket.
As I . . . consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things.
And the response was equally jolting:
 “Today he referred to us as an inferior culture, when he said that Israelis have double our GDP,” said Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian negotiator with the Israelis. “I’ve never heard such a racist statement from any Israeli. Yes, we have a conflict with the Israelis. But we never go down this road of racism.”
The seemingly irreconcilable conflict is about as deep and complex as it gets. The fierce hostility to Israel from Arab neighbors, many of whom have sworn its destruction, has in turn generated a standoff that includes occupation and an economic blockade of Arab territories.

In pandering for the votes of conservative Jews and Christians, Romney managed to ignore Rule No. 1 of diplomacy: be diplomatic. You do not offhandedly dismiss the views or sensitivities of the other side because you will need them to resolve conflicts.

It was the same ham-handed approach he offered in going all-in on the Netanyahu policy of threatening a preemptive attack on Iran even as the United States and allies are working a double-edged approach of sanctions and diplomacy to achieve the same end -- the elimination of the Iranian nuclear threat.

Even conservative Republicans found his performance odd:
"Because it’s billed as a layup — it’s billed as something that should be simple — perhaps he let his guard down," said Hogan Gidley, a senior aide under former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum. "You say, ’Gosh, this guy is so scripted, the campaign is so disciplined, so smart, how could this happen?
One can only hold their breath to see what Romney will say or do -- and take comfort that the king of flip-floppers will come up with a new position if he ever addresses Palestinian supporters.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, in Mitt's mind, his visit to Israel was successful, politically. He was speaking to US Jewish voters, not Palestinian ones. He could care less if he offended Palestinians. A sign of that success was the endorsement of the JADL which could hopefully add Jewish votes to his tally. OTOH, you don't behave like that when you are on a diplomatic mission. Tact is what's called for, not arrogance. This is not a corporate takeover. You don't issue demands and expect them to be obeyed.

July 31, 2012 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Romney was supposed to show off his diplomatic acumen on the international stage to demonstrate gravitas, and his ability to represent the county in foreign environs. Trashing your president while there, and insulting competing national interests at your particular location, is not the way to show that gravitas and your ability to do the job.

July 31, 2012 11:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least he didn't make a stop in Austria and have to give a speech in Austrian like Barack did. Could've been another gaffe.

August 01, 2012 8:07 AM  

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