Romney Attacks Dem Foes' Foreign Policy Experience
If nothing else, Mitt Romney is a perpetual irony machine. Yesterday, Romney added to his legend by proclaiming that his three leading Democratic opponents - all U.S. Senators - lack his foreign policy experience. More ironic still, the one-term governor and international affairs neophyte leveled the charge while speaking in Midland, Texas, home of one George W. Bush.
Speaking to the Midland Republican Women's Club, Romney attacked Senators Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards for supposed ivory tower inexperience:
"Sitting on committees in Washington does not guarantee that someone has the skills to solve the problems on the international stage. In those three cases, you have people who have never really led or managed a substantial enterprise. They learned how to speak well and they learned how to ask good questions at hearings and how to receive briefings. But the role of being a leader and manager of a state, of a city, of an Olympics, of a business, of an enterprise is entirely different than sitting in a hearing chair."
Sadly for Mitt Romney, his own cavalcade of foreign policy missteps, misunderstandings and comical gaffes show him to be not ready for prime time on the world stage. In April, for example, Romney downplayed the important of capturing Osama Bin Laden, declaring, "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." Playing to the crowd at a GOP debate just one week later, Romney pulled a 180, promising of the Al Qaeda chief, "He's going to pay, and he will die."
That stumble came just weeks after Romney's short-lived campaign to target state pension funds with investments in companies doing business with Iran. On February 22, Romney sent letters to Democratic leaders including New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton as well as state comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli urging a policy of "strategic disinvestment from companies linked to the Iranian regime." But as the AP quickly detailed, Romney's former employer (Bain & Co.) and the company he founded (Bain Capital) have recent links to recent Iranian business deals. Apparently missing the irony, Romney responded by saying of his Iran disinvestment PR scheme, "this is something for now-forward."
But Mitt Romney's most misguided - and dangerous - pronouncements concern the greatest American foreign policy and national security challenge of our age. In May, Romney anointed himself as the leading proponent of "conflation" in the war against Al Qaeda. Alarmingly and erroneously equating Sunni and Shiite, the guilty and the innocent, Romney claimed he has more than Osama Bin Laden in his crosshairs:
"But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another. This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate."
(As a hilarious postscript, by August Romney was praising Hezbollah in Lebanon as the very model for American aid and social services in the Muslim world.)
His myriad foreign policy failings aside, the greatest irony of Romney's side-splitting attacks on his Democratic foes was that chose to deliver it in Midland, Texas, Governoe George W. Bush's launching pad to the White House. There, an oblivious Romney stated:
"If you look over the history of this country, great governors, not great senators, have been able to make a huge difference in foreign policy and in conflict."
Of course, Governor George W. Bush gave Americans every indication that as President he would preside over the greatest foreign policy and security debacles since World War II. The warning signs were there early. Candidate Bush, who had never traveled outside of North America, failed to identify several world leaders when quizzed during a 1999 radio interview. Just months later, Bush fell for the practical joke of a Canadian television show and glowingly accepted the endorsement of a made-up Prime Minister Poutine (named after a common meal in Quebec). Showing his national security acumen, the future President asked his foreign policy tutor Saudi Prince Bandar, "Why should I care about North Korea?"
All of these ironies and more are lost on Mitt Romney. His contradictory positions and gymnastic flip-flops even more than his perfect hair and gleaming teeth have come to define his presidential candidacy. But if Mitt Romney believes his five sons serve an America at war by helping their father's presidential campaign, then claiming his inexperience makes him supremely qualified as a world leader must not seem ironic at all.