Call it the 2012 Presidential campaign shot heard ’round the world. In a contest marred by gaffes and PR debacles of the diverse kind, Mitt Romney is staring down the barrel of hard video evidence that he just doesn’t give a damn about Americans occupying social positions outside the privileged one percent.
By now we have grown used to the candidate’s willful ignorance. Everyone not living in the United Kingdom enjoyed a good laugh at Romney’s clumsy insult directed at London, the host city of this year’s summer Olympics. Nothing was destroyed but a planning committee’s delicate feelings. Silly Mittens.
But Romney’s foreign policy ineptitude took a turn for the more serious last week when U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed in a terrorist attack, and the GOP challenger immediately sought to leverage the tragedy for political gain. Without waiting for full details of the incident and before expressing his condolences to victims’ families, Romney made an inexcusable, disingenuous play to tar Obama as an American apologist. As anti-American protests rage in areas where not so long ago, we celebrated “Arab Spring” democratic revolutions, it is important to ask to what extent Romney’s careless words fed the growing fires of Middle Eastern hatred.
Romney doesn’t give a fig what kind of trouble he stirs up overseas. As America works to restore its image from the out-of-touch “Cowboy Diplomacy” of the George W. Bush era, yeoman’s work in which President Obama has been largely successful, Mittens runs around shooting his uneducated mouth off about the long-running Israel/Palestine conflict and other issues which may score him points with his political base, but do nothing to reflect the traits of a leader who understands 21st century dynamics and a hyperconnected, interdependent world ecosystem.
However, until this week it was reasonably safe to assume that Mitt Romney’s blunderous foreign policy soundbites were unfortunate blabber from an unelectable candidate who nevertheless genuinely loves his country. Most of us are not so partisan that we can’t disagree with a man without questioning his patriotism (behavioral patterns of the far right wing notwithstanding). Apologies to the remaining voters who tried to believe that no matter who wins the November election, a real effort would be made to create jobs and otherwise throw the drowning middle class a lifeline.
We have all made dialectical miscalculations in the private company of friends and family members. Comments that would sound gauche in mixed crowds seem palatable around the familiar. Presidential campaigns are particularly scripted, messaged and strategized so when given a chance to go “off the cuff, ” who can throw stones at an exhausted, 24/7 news cycle-beleaguered contender? In making the case here, consider most of Vice-President Joe Biden’s dunce-cap worthy messaging errors.
Mitt Romney’s latest rhetorical scandal cannot be categorized as the mistake of an exhausted, relaxed man in the company of likeminded souls. How do we know this for certain? Just ask him. According to a report earlier this week from Yahoo! News, “Mitt Romney stood by his comments captured on a hidden camera at a closed-door fundraiser earlier this year in which he called supporters of President Barack Obama ‘victims’ and said they are reliant on government handouts.”
Well then. Allow me to take the opportunity to thank Romney for his honesty and candor, an occasion members of the voting public are not awarded often enough. I have to disagree with New York Times columnist David Brooks when he writes “Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?” Brooks’ rhetorical question implies that Mittens’s characterization of Obama voters as lazy, needy bottomfeeders is merely an error, but in order to accept this position, one would have to willfully suspend belief in the candidate’s own words at the hastily arranged late-evening press conference. I don’t think most of us are prepared to do that.