Romney in the Land of the Anglo-Saxon Uncertain Olympics: Not Ready for Prime Time

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Responses | Print |

18 Responses

  1. Excellent points all, but I hope your punctuation of “Cameron was, like,” is a typo rather than an adoption of the idiotic style of the New Yorker, to this point nearly the only press organ in the English-speaking world that confuses the phrase “X was like Y,” where Y is a phrase uttered by X (and therefore can be colloquially considered a characterization of X), with the phrase “X was, like, Y” where “like” is a meaningless interjection between the equivalence of X and Y. I have given up on the uptight-and-proud-of-it New Yorker in this respect, but expected better from Juan Cole.

    • Poor Vance. ‘was, like’ is Valley Girl for ‘he said.’ If you need this explained, you probably won’t get it.

      • Well, no, see, that’s just the thing: “He was like” is Valley Girl for “he said.” “He was, like” is Valley Girl for “he was.” These are two different uses of “like” which those who aren’t paying sufficient attention confound with each other. I thought I could make this clear above using X and Y but apparently it did not get through. I ask that you step back and think about this briefly; despite your breezy dismissal I’m still confident the logic will become clear to you if you give it a moment’s attention.

  2. Imagine him taking a gondola ride in Venice with Silvio Berlusconi:
    Mitt: “Silvio, how long have your streets been F#’d Up like this?”
    Silvio:”Mitt…Bite Me!”

  3. Dear Professor Cole

    Mr Romney couldn’t remember the name of the guy he was meeting, even though Ed Milliband is leader of the opposition.

    link to

    A spectacular waffle, worthy of Sarah Palin.

    Isn’t difficulty remebering names the first sign of the onset of senile dementia? If the candidate is going gaga we need to inspect the choice for Veep carefully.

  4. Mitt Romney raised (via an “advisor”) expectations by calling attention to presumed shared Anglo-Saxon heritage. This obscures the reality that he is the son of an immigrant from Mexico. There is nothing wrong with having Mexican heritage but to claim some mystical awareness of Anglo-Saxon heritage based on parents born in Mexico is more than a little strange.

    Couple the claim of heritage with the sense of entitlement that absolves Romney from the need to attend to the same level of detail (name recognition, observing protocol) expected from everyone else and he is left vulnerable to the kinds of gaffes we have seen the last two days. He really does seem to confuse running for president of the country club with running for President of the United States.

  5. If Romney exhibits the same amount of tact in Israel as he did in Great Britain, armegeddon might occur. Romney’s daily gaffes and insults to the non-rich make Richard Nixon look like a real people person.

  6. Anyone with elementary understanding of the British knows that while they are highly self-critical, criticism by Americans is not on, and brings a sharp reaction.

    Also, that amateurishness is not a pejorative term there,
    in fact it is part of any enterprise, which should never be too relentlessly serious. Examples of things we have ruined thru overintensity are our politics and our sports.

  7. “If Romney couldn’t get the UK right, you wouldn’t want him leading the free world.”

    The only significant vetting process for the “leader of the free world” is verification that the candidate is a native born citizen who is at least 35 years old.

    The selection process is centered the candidate’s ability to mislead the voters into thinking that he or she actually possesses the intellect, judgement, and temperament to assume one of the most difficult jobs in the world. The few people that actually have those qualities don’t don’t seem to be interested in running. (My favorite in this category is George Mitchell.)

    Romney is just a talking cigar store millionaire who couldn’t make it through a nanny vetting. Obama might get the nanny job.

  8. I can’t begin to imagine what his visit to Israel will be like. A sycophantic bluster at best. Wonder why he’s only visiting the UK, Poland, and Israel. Is he unwanted everywhere else?

  9. According to The Times he also managed to call the Labour leader ‘Mr Leader’ because he had forgotten his name.

  10. The daily telegraph put it the best “Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive”

    • This story just keeps rolling on – in British, but not American media.

      link to

      The Olympic winner who said Romney just shouldn’t leave the States is Carl Lewis.

      Personally, I have a growing anger towards the London Olympics due to the horror stories of people being forced to leave because they wore a t-shirt from an “enemy” non-sponsor corporation, and small businessmen all over London are having to remove the name “Olympic” from their establishments. On top of the military and police state they’ve created, they impose a corporate dictatorship in the Olympic zone. I hope Britons behold the combination of the two and realize this is what their future looks like under the City of London/Wall Street axis, kick out the Tories and force Labour to live up to its name.

      However, this doesn’t let Romney off the hook because he’d run the Olympics the same way if he had to deal with a vast, multi-ethnic, politically diverse city like London, instead of SLC. The corporate dictatorship part of it goes without saying with him.

  11. Of course, Salt Lake City IS in the middle of nowhere (that’s why the Mormons ended up there– to get away from all the folks harassing them). Mitt’s dad may have been born in Mexico, but that doesn’t make him any less of an Anglo. Speaking of Mitt’s dad George, I remember he had a
    tendency to get into trouble with his mouth (wasn’t his one and only run for the presidency destroyed by his famous comment that he’d been brainwashed regarding Vietnam by the generals?). Perhaps Mitt’s problems are caused by a particular Romney gene. To anyone who knows about his tenure in Massachusetts, did he get into trouble there with verbal gaffes? Or did everyone just ignore him then because the legislature could override his vetoes so no one had to pay much attention to his comments?

  12. As a member of the free world. I can’t recall ever being able to vote for its leader.

    What is the technical term for someone who claims to lead millions of people who are totally unable to vote them out of office?

Comments are closed.