Self-reflection is the key to self-improvement. Given this, and in the spirit of Craig Ferguson’s late-night segment, “What have we learned on the show tonight?” I would like to ask, “What has Governor Romney learned from his 2012 Foreign Policy Tour?”
First of all, it is only fair to point out that not everything the governor said on this trip was stupid. His comments about Britain’s inspiring Olympic spirit, Israel’s unbreakable friendship with the U.S., and Poland’s young democracy were all appropriate and commendable. But here are some guidelines which, should the Romney campaign take them to heart, may prove helpful in the future.
1. When visiting a nation that has geared itself up to a fever pitch of pride and anticipation about hosting the Olympics, it is advisable not to raise questions about the prospect of a security breakdown - given the bloodshed and mayhem such a breakdown would entail.
In all fairness, none of the governor’s questions about London's security issue were new; the Brits had been speculating along the same lines for weeks. But this no-no falls under the rule of “I have every right to call my brother a fat, boorish loudmouth, but you must refer to him as a charmingly jolly and madcap old bloke.”
2. When comparing prosperous communities to impoverished ones, it is unwise to praise the ethnicity or other inherent qualities of the prosperous community since this inevitably insults the less prosperous one.
The governor’s Jerusalem gaffe, unlike his London one, is hard to excuse. Frankly, it’s even hard to believe. Campaigning 101 should teach any attentive candidate to beware of such noxious comparisons lest they raise accusations of racism – which this one did. I imagine Governor Romney would have something to say to a candidate who were to proclaim, for example, that “The reason Connecticut is so much wealthier than Utah is that Connecticut is a Blue state and it is not crawling with Mormons.” The insult implied in this hypothetical remark would be even more biting had Connecticut overrun Utah in 1967 and been occupying it and stifling its economy for 45 years.
3. When members of the press have been stiff-armed and prevented from asking questions of a candidate for a week, it is unwise for the candidate’s press reps to discourage further questioning with phrases like “Kiss my ass!” and “Shove it!”
The press can be pesky at times, no doubt about it. But if the candidate has recently walked away from a sacred site, such as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it is especially important to remember that phrases like “Show some Goddamn respect for this sacred site you ignorant bastards!” and so on, are not likely to conjure up the aura of sanctity one would hope for.