As I watched the Republican Presidential debates early this year, I was dispirited by the almost complete lack of sophistication on foreign policy issues, particularly the seeming lack of awareness that these represent some of the most challenging and intricate issues a President will face. With the exception of Jon Huntsman and – hold on to your hats – Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann – I am not sure anyone acknowledged how difficult some of these matters can be. While there was almost a unanimous agreement that Barack Obama was a total failure, when it came time to proposing actual, you know, solutions, there was a remarkable amount of policy statements that were quite similar to what the current administration was actually doing.
No one has been more dismissive of Obama’s efforts than Mitt Romney. His stock position is that Obama is a complete failure and that he – Romney – would do “exactly the opposite.” As with most of his positions, of course, he is woefully short on specific critiques and even less forthcoming on what a President Romney would do. I have characterized him as a vapid person running a vapid campaign, so I must admit there was a certain amount of pleasure in watching him dip his toes into diplomatic waters. He began the week by stating inaccurately the views of a high-ranking member of Australia’s government in such a way that it reflected negatively on Obama. Then, he totally irritated his hosts in what Romney erroneously called “the nation of Great Britain” by dissing both their Olympic preparations and the level of enthusiasm by citizens of the UK.
So he has done “exactly the opposite” of Barack Obama. When the latter was a candidate visiting overseas in the 2008 campaign, he was met with a level of adulation that resulted in Republicans criticizing him as a “celebrity.” No one will be saying that about Mitt as he was ridiculed by both David Cameron and Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.