Governor Romney’s Big Foreign Policy Address: The First Can’t Be The Last
Published on: July 25, 2012
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  • thibaud

    Mead at his best. A shrewd and incisive post – esp this point:

    “From a policy perspective, the most striking fact about the speech was the degree to which it was dominated by the geopolitics of the last decade”

    This speech bore all the marks of a second-hand purchase with little in the way of anything resembling original thought or conviction.

    Pretty ridiculous that a presidential candidate in this Asian Century would have next to nothing to say about Asia.

    Also ironic that the party whose leading intellectual light, such as it is, wants to starve the government to the point of making it impossible to field a serious blue water navy or to project force globally is accusing the other side of wanting to shortcut the military. Pretty shameless, actually.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    This election will be a referendum on Obama and the Democrats, people will just need to decide if he deserves another 4 years, or if the Republicans should be given a shot. Romney shouldn’t present new policies without a full cabinet to advise him, and politically it’s his job to point out Obama’s many mistakes, weakness, and failures.

  • In light of what Venerable Mead says, Romney’s focus makes sense. What matters is not only what MR says, but also to whom he addresses his message, thus first his electoral base, then the borderline states, then everybody else. Evangicals lap up MR’s talk on Israel, working-class whites in borderline states heard him slam China, and defense-contractor-loving Virginia sees defense spending with MR’s talk on America being strongest power, etc.
    Actually, not a bad speech for a candidate.

  • Michael Goodfellow

    Romney is the “not-Obama” candidate and that’s all. His best strategy is to try not to embarrass himself, and hope the economy continues to stink.

    The irony is that if he wins on a sick economy and then the Euro region breaks up, he’ll have absolutely no idea what to do about it. Republicans will be blamed for the financial crisis that follows, and wish they had never won.

  • Brendan Doran

    It has yet to be the Asian Century Mr. T.

    What a marvelous opinion of Wonder Bread ye have. We shall have to summon the Health Minions of the Mad Dwarf King of New York to Stately Mead manor.

    The Wonder Bread metaphor [?] is racist BTW. Or Sumthin.

    Romney is the Repub token stand in, a la Langdon, Wilke, Dewey, Ford, Dole…when the Repubs face a United Left [Dems, State and clientissimo, Media, Academy] they have since 1936 fielded the safe, bland, do no harm type..and it’s his turn. Like Langdon Romney disappeared after the nomination. The Repubs take conventional media and pundit..that is to say democrat…advice on this and it’s effective. None of those men were President. And it’s nearly certain he’ll pick wan, colorless Wonder Bread Veep candidate. When the Maverick picked Sarah Palin…he nearly won. Can’t have that.

    Mentioning Palin – listening to the mediocracy speak of her and the Tea Party as losing for the Repbumblekins would be as if FDR had given a speech on 12/8/41 counseling no worries – Orientals don’t have the sense of balance to fly attack planes effectively.

  • Brendan Doran

    Whoa…I knew I should have left Ford out.
    Yes, he was President although never elected.

    This is what happens when you let data get in the way of strongly held positions. I shall redouble my efforts.

  • Thanks you for the daily lessons, Sir! One question: If Romney is vague on his foreign policy vision, can someone give me a coherent definition of the Obama Doctrine and the vision of the future he is articulating?

  • Jim.


    You missed the bit where Romney slammed Obama for “intend[ing] to make ill conceived defense cuts to support his bloated social programs at a time when the United States needs a stronger military than ever.”

    Note that the “starve the government” types generally want to cut the Federal Gov’t back to its Constitutional mandate — defense, and not a lot else.

  • Thrasymachus

    It’s pretty clear to me, at least, why Romney’s speech devoted so much time to the Middle East, gave such short shrift to America’s pressing concerns in Europe and Asia, and was so infused with belligerent Jacksonian sentimentality. It’s because Romney’s entire foreign policy bench is staffed with neoconservative Bush-era retreads, and these are their concerns.

    Asia and Europe might hold the keys to our economic destiny, but to the neocons, America’s economic destiny is a fairly dull subject.

  • Eurydice

    Yes, as a political speech, it played to the current understanding of the public, which is also the foreign policy of the past. When President Obama considers the ways in which he’s not communicated his narrative to the people, he might add current and future foreign policy to the list – but perhaps he’s saving this for later in the campaign.

    As you say, this is just the first speech, he may get better, but I don’t think Romney’s the go-to guy for foreign policy. Then again, candidate Obama wasn’t, either. His foreign policy platform was pretty much tuned to what the public and his party were thinking about then, too. His subsequent experience in office should count for something, but I think the public is more concerned with the domestic economy than anything else.

  • Anthony

    “2012 is not a foreign policy election today….” Yet, your points 2, 6, 7, 8, & 10 intimate foreign policy recognition as campaign tactic.

    “If the Romney campaign hoped to showcase some potentially effective attack points in the campaign against the incumbent, this was a successful speech.” Your points 3 & 4 appear definitely targeted to a specific demographic – which is to be expected.

    “The clues are limited; Governor Romney was pretty successful at attacking his opponent without advancing very specific ideas that could be criticized in their turn.” The aforementioned perhaps political strategy to achieve predefined ends (the highly publicized swing voter).

    “The impression of something solid; if hard to see.” This description WRM goes to heart of Romney’s electoral challenge – how to give life to “impression” so that he convinces a majority of voting electorate that he is preferred choice as guardian of the system (the only elected officeholder accountable to a national constituency).

  • thibaud

    ” I don’t think Romney’s the go-to guy for foreign policy”

    Romney’s the go-to guy for Caribbean and Swiss policy.

    He’s the ultimate Offshore Balancer.

  • @Brendan Doran 5&6 Do you mean Alf Landon who ran against FDR in 36? Langdon was a gentleman from my home state who signed the Declarwtion.

  • thibaud

    Obama’s ruthless (and much more effective than his GOP predecessor’s) prosecution of the war on terror has made it impossible for any GOP challenger to run to his right on foreign policy.

    Likewise, Paul Ryan’s absurd austerity budget proposal makes it impossible for the GOP to have any credibility when they claim that Dems want to starve the military.

    The only really significant and credible way for Romney to differentiate himself on foreign policy would be for him to run as a Ron Paul- or Buchanan-style isolationist. Good luck with that.

  • Frank Arden

    I, too, await more from Mr.Romney on foreign policy, but polls indicate the electorate’s interest find it at its typical station in American politics–close to the bottom of the barrel.

    The last time it played a significant role was in 2004 in response to Mr. Bush’s policy concerning Iraq. By election day, voter approval had improved (around 55%) while the democrats were stuck with the anti-war Sen. Kerry.

    Besides the so-called Asian pivot, I see little (to be polite) the president can point to besides the bin Laden business. Even that is now tainted by leaks from senior WH officials and cartoons reminding the president that he “really didn’t do it by himself.”

    Beyond the ACA controversy, the three things of chief focus this election cycle are the economy, the economy, and the economy. Here, too, it is not impolite to say that the president has nothing to point to as a success and continued disappointing jobs reports and current economic forecasts suggest more of the same.

    Given this, Mr. Romney would be unwise to stir up controversy in foreign affairs with too many distracting details.

    Americans have seldom ranked very high “The Politics Among Nations”(to borrow Hans Morgenthau’s wonderful phrase).

    Even so, I look forward to more red meat and less white bread.

  • Kris

    “Governor Romney intends to keep playing the Israel card, attacking the White House for not doing enough to support and protect the Jewish state.”

    The sheer unmitigated gall! Does Romney think the electorate is so stupid that it doesn’t know that Obama has vowed that “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided”?

    Sure, I’d love to know in advance exactly what the candidates intend to do. But events, dear boy.

  • Fred

    _Obama’s ruthless (and much more effective than his GOP predecessor’s) prosecution of the war on terror_

    Like his abandonment of Iraq and his simultaneous surge and announcement of cut and run in Afghanistan? Like his putting up every obstacle he can to energy exploration and recovery that might help lower oil prices and at least somewhat defund Al Qaeda types? [Ad hominem remarks redacted.]

  • Brendan Doran

    yes I meant Alf Landon the Rebumblekin candidate from 1936.

  • thibaud

    More fun and games with the GOP’s walking embarrassment of a presidential candidate, on his first trip abroad.

    Did it occur to any of the GOP worthies that one of the most offensive things about the private equity and hedgefund scammers is their ARROGANCE?

    These are men who are renowned for hostility to others, for the delight they take in getting the better of other people. Their creed was expressed well by Gore Vidal: “It’s not enough to win; someone else must lose.”

    There’s nothing whatsoever surprising about Romney’s colossally offensive stupidity in London. This is how moneyfiddlers think and act.

    Still, it’s really painful for the GOP establishment.

    Now Dr. Krauthammer’s head is reeling:

    “All [Romney] has to do [on his foreign trip] is show up and say wonderful stuff about his hosts and imply we’ll be strong allies…

    “… all Romney has to do is say nothing. It’s like a guy in a 100-meter dash. All he has to do is finish. He doesn’t have to win. And instead he tackles the guy in the lane next to him and ends up disqualified. I don’t get it.”

  • thibaud

    Scenes from the near future:

    Romney goes to the Wailing Wall and decides to clean it up a bit by disposing of all those messy little papers.

    Romney goes to Warsaw and, between telling Polish jokes, lectures the Poles about putting up a good fight. How do you say “surrender monkey” in Polish?

    Romney decides to take a detour to Cyprus and Liechtenstein to catch up on some family business involving certain numbered accounts.

    Stopping in Zurich on his way home, Romney praises Swiss defiance of overbearing “big gum’mint” in the form of the US Treasury and tells the gnomes to “keep up the good fight.”

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