There’s something about being very rich that tends to make people more prone, at least in presidential politics, to say stupid stuff (John Kerry was prone to it, as was Bush the elder). Case in point: Mitt Romney on his the foreign leg of his campaign. He’s in London right now, and the trip has not been kind to him, as he’s not been kind to his hosts.
First, he questioned that ability of London to host the Olympics, saying that he had heard of ‘disconcerting’ signs of dysfunction at the games, namely in the area of security. To which UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.’ The ‘nowhere’ bit was a direct reference to Salt Lake City.
Second, he’s refused to take questions from the American press on his grand European tour thus far, which breaks with protocol, and, frankly, is just kind of shitty.
Third, he forgot to remember the name of Labor opposition head Ed Milliband, referring to him as ‘Mr. Leader’ in a photo-op.
Fourth, he mentioned that he had previously met with Sir John Sawders, the head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Romney was given a briefing as a courtesy. Usually, one does not announce to the global press when one has just received a briefing from the head of one of the most respected covert intelligence services in the world. Mind you, this is the organization that the British government wouldn’t even acknowledge existed until fifteen years ago. Oops.
Fifth, he announced that he was not going to watch his wife’s horse, Rafalca, in the dressage competition, which as Andrew Sullivan noted, if true is kind of shitty, and if not true, then makes him a bit of a liar.
Sixth, while on his trip to Britain, this passage from his book No Apology has suddenly started to get a lot of press: ‘England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions.’
Judging from the title of his book, No Apology, I would venture to say that’s probably a good policy for Romney. Were he to start apologizing for any of his numerous gaffes (a half dozen by day one of the trip), he probably wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else. Ane while I’m usually not one for pointing out such relatively minor missteps, it’s slightly different when it happens abroad. I’d liken it to a family situation. All kinds of shit goes on behind closed doors when family is present that doesn’t really matter, but when the neighbors are around, in this case, the British, it just makes the whole family, in this case, the US, look like a bunch of morons.
So, Mitt, you’re onto Israel today. Please try to not ignite another intifada with some offhand comments.