Sunday, July 29, 2012

Romney in London

If you paid any attention to pre-Olympic coverage last week then you saw that there were questions about security staffing for the games. At one point it was speculated that the British army would be called in to fill vacancies.

In an interview conducted in London for NBC, Romney said that those reports were disconcerting. He then went on to talk about the athletes, the volunteers, and the host country coming together.

Most of the coverage since then has been on Romney's gaffe and how he shouldn't be allowed out of the country.

What was the gaffe? Mentioning that there had been any question about the readiness of the games' security. Both the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London made disparaging comments about this.

Of course, Romney didn't say anything new or insulting. All he did was mention that there had been stories in the papers. None of the coverage of the incident has mentioned this.

There are two agendas at work here. The British are trying to paper over some real rough spots in Olympic preparations. That is to be expected although the fact that Romney's interview was for an American network makes them seem pretty touchy.

On this side of the Atlantic the motives are more partisan. Romney selected three countries that President Obama has slighted.

When former Prime Minister Tony Blair came on a state visit he brought state gifts with special meaning. Obama reciprocated with trinkets from the White House gift shop. The State Department has denied that there is any special relationship between the two countries. Secretary of State Clinton has implied that she supports Argentina's claim to the Falkland Islands over Britain's (regardless of the wishes of the residents of the islands).

As part of his "reset" of relations with Russia, Obama cancelled an anti-missile installation in Poland. The poles first heard about this on the news and, in a terrible coincidence, it happened on the anniversary of an invasion of Poland.

Obama's relations with Israel have been numerous. He began by insisting that Israel put a moratorium on settlements without asking anything in return from the Palestinians. His assumption was that the settlements were the only roadblock to peace and without them, a final settlement was at hand. He also suggested that negotiations start with the 1967 boundaries without mentioning land-swaps or recognition of Israel's right to exist. The Israelis believe that this would be suicide. Obama has let slip his personal distaste for Israel's prime minister.

Romney's trip was meant to highlight the fact that Obama has alienated long-time allies. Obama's supporters in the press know this and want to neutralize it so we will not see any stories about warm relations between Romney and the people he visits. Instead we will see stories about "gaffes" or anonymous reports that someone on Romney's staff used the term "Anglo Saxon".

In the meantime, Obama's gaffes go unreported. Obama said that AK-47s belong in the hands of the military, unaware that the US military used M16s and that the Aurora shooter used an AR-15 (the AK-47 is fully automatic, the AR-15 is not). Would these mistakes have gone unreported if Romney had made them?

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