Mitt Romney returned to his many stateside homes this week after a triumphant foreign tour that left no doubt that The Mitten has a delicate sense of foreign relations unequaled by any presidential candidate in recent memory.
Possibly more at ease than usual in a place where no one was going to ask about his tax returns, Mitt felt free to warn the English that the country’s ability to run the Olympic Games might fall short. Tricky business, those Olympics, especially if you’re not a go-to, standup financial kind of guy, a guy like, say, Mitt. The English — why are they so prickly? — apparently took offense at Mitt’s generous and good-natured advice. The Prime Minister himself joined the discussion with an entirely gratuitous observation that running the games in London is not quite the same as putting them on “in the middle of nowhere,” a nasty reference to Salt Lake City, the scene of Mr. Romney’s Olympic administrative triumph. In a matter of hours, London newspapers were vilifying the presumptive Republican presidential candidate with headlines referring to him as “Mitt the Twit.” With allies like this, who needs enemies?
Never mind: the English were always thin-skinned, not to mention perfidious, viper-tongued, pretentious, and self-important. On to Israel where a man can speak his mind and not worry about stepping on someone’s precious little feelings. In no time, Mitt had Netanyahu and the whole country eating out of his hand, or his pocket, or something. He told them if he were president he would consider all options, including force, to keep nuclear arms out of Iran. The Israelis were glad to hear this but wondered why the perpetual presidential candidate was presenting as new a policy that was already in force. You mean Obama’s policy? the Israelis asked.
Sensing that he had stumbled into a cul de sac, The Mitten saw that the best way out was to inflame tensions with the Palestinians, usually a winning strategy when you’re dealing with hardliners, but not so great for wimpy peaceniks, of which there are far too many. Next thing you know, the creepy liberal media are saying that the well-intentioned, upright, front-running, standard-bearing, square-jawed conservative GOP putative presidential candidate has insulted an entire people by suggesting that they are culturally backward, especially when compared to the Israelis, who, it must be remembered, have an influence on American presidential politics beyond all reason.
So what’s the big flap about? Of course the Palestinians are culturally backward. They’re Arabs, for God sakes. And almost all of them are Muslims. And Muslims, as everyone knows, are terrorists. Just like Osama bin Laden.
The creepy news media finally got what they deserved on the last day of Mitten’s trip, in Poland. Rich Gorka, one of Mitt’s press aides, let ’em have it when they kept asking annoying questions about all the so-called gaffes the candidate had committed during the trip. “Kiss my ass,” said Gorka to some impertinent news hounds. And then he closed the, er, discussion down with a statement that was hard to misunderstand. “Shove it,” he said. Now, maybe that kind of language doesn’t have Mitt’s subtlety, but it’s the only way to talk to these people. News people have no respect for anybody’s feelings and they have no sense of the fragile nature of foreign relations.
But that’s politics and nobody has a better feel for it than the Mitten. Sometimes the wise guy reporters think they can have a good laugh at Mitt’s expense. But he always turns the tables on them. He always has the last word. People say he hasn’t got much of a sense of humor, but they mistake the stiff, robotic, clueless, mincing, foot-in-mouth public Mitt for the real Mitt. The Mitt who will take opposite positions on any subject with equal force, the Mitt who in the same sentence can answer yes and no to the same question — that’s the political Mitten, the vote-getter. The real Mitt is the one we saw in Europe and the Middle East, the one with the Mitten touch.