Mitt Romney, astonishingly, managed to turn what should have been an easy set of photo-ops and feel-good platitudes into a diplomatic comedy of errors that raise strong questions about his readiness for the presidency.
First, an adviser to the Romney campaign referred to “our” common Anglo-Saxon heritage with the United Kingdom, and said that President Obama doesn’t share that sentiment (apparently because one drop of African blood not only makes one African, it wipes out empathy for all other racial groups). Romney said that he did not agree with whoever the official in his campaign was, who made that observation. Note that Romney appeared to acknowledge that some official close to him did say it.
Then, Romney said, in an interview with Brian Williams, of London’s Olympic games,
“”You know, it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging. Because there are three parts that makes Games successful.”
Why would you use language like “disconcerting” and “not… encouraging” about the London Olympics on a diplomatic tour? Is Romney so competitive that his Salt Lake City Olympics has the be the best ever? Is he also running for Prime Minister of the UK against his host David Cameron? Is he just better than everybody else?
The government of Prime Minister David Cameron was furious at Romney’s slam at London. A senior British foreign ministry official told the Guardian: “What a total shocker. We are speechless.”
Cameron had been put in a difficult position by Romney’s visit, because protocol does not allow the British government to treat him as it would an elected head of state. But Cameron bent over backwards to accommodate Romney, only to be blindsided.
Then David Cameron was, like, “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.” He was having fun with Romney’s boasts about his role in the Salt Lake City Olympics, in Utah.
Then a spokesperson for the mayor of Salt Lake City, Ralph Becker, said: “(David Cameron) can stop by any time. We’d love to have him and are happy to send a map so he doesn’t run into any trouble locating the middle of nowhere.”
Then Romney met secretly with the head of MI6 (British overseas intelligence), which was supposed to be a secret meeting. He casually announced that he had met with the official. That sort of thing is supposed to be kept confidential in the UK.
Imagine that you were hiring a consultancy firm to go in and make good relations with a foreign concern. And imagine that the guy you sent in starts a shouting match between that company and your own because of his incompetence.
Would you later on hire the same consultant to prepare the way for an even bigger deal with multiple companies?
While it is all in good fun, there is some real annoyance being generated here.
If Romney couldn’t get the UK right, you wouldn’t want him leading the free world.