Mitt Romney has to be more relieved than an Iowa corn farmer in the middle of a thunderstorm to be back on home soil. Arms wide. Head back. Wet face. Smile. Podium steps. National Anthem.
The American electorate may harbor an ambivalent attitude towards the former governor of Massachusetts, but the reaction to his European Vacation from folks across the big pond could only be described as decisively derisive. If diplomacy were a hurdling sport, the guy stumbled over the lane chalk.
The plan was for the GOP nominee to embark on a low-risk, three-country jaunt to raise his suspect foreign policy bona fides, but the seven-day charm offensive proved to be light on charm and heavy on offense. Good will hunting transformed into ill will gathering.
The first stop was Great Britain, where the Wee Bairne of Bain managed to pretty much insult the whole country. Romney told an interviewer that security problems surrounding the Olympics were disconcerting. And the gates of Hades opened and all sorts of evil tabloid creatures sprung forth.
He only said the same exact thing they had been saying for weeks in Merry Olde, but you know family. Siblings are allowed to call their father a harebrained lovable loser: cousins, not so much.
David Cameron snapped that London was a busy, world-class city and “not in the middle of nowhere,” which some interpreted as a snub targeting the man who famously saved the 2002 Winter Olympics. But the prime minister only demonstrated his own geographic ineptitude. Salt Lake City isn’t in the middle of nowhere; it’s in Utah.
Ann Romney traipsed along to offer moral support to her horse Rafalca, competing in Olympic dressage. Dressage being a French word describing an event where horse and rider perform predetermined movements. Like inter-species dancing. Which has to be illegal in at least half of the states Willard leads.
The Overseas Gaffe Express moved to the Middle East where Mr. Romney stuck a prayer in the Wailing Wall, presumably pleading to be struck dumb. Retroactively. Later he gave a speech saying Israel’s financial acumen and culture provided it with a major advantage over Palestine. Sort of ticking off the Palestinians. Not to mention a couple of Israelis who thought he called them thrifty.
The trip landed for a final stop in Poland and everyone held their breath. But all that happened on the outskirts of the evil continent of Europe was an aide cautioned a reporter to stop peppering the candidate with questions because they were in a holy site for Poles. And to emphasize the sanctity of the joint, he told the reporter to kiss his butt. Only he didn’t say butt, rather the word that rhymes with class. A quality of which he is obviously bereft.
The campaign was hoping to use this journey abroad to muffle the outcry over tax returns and set up the vice-presidential pick, but now even the most partisan Republican has to wonder how many consecutive blows to the head their candidate can take without visible bruising. Need to line up a platoon of makeup artists for Tampa.
Britain, Israel and Poland. Not what you call the Group of Death. Those aren’t the tough ones, Mitt. Got to rate their collective degree of difficulty in diplomatic terms at about a negative 2. But one thing you got to give him — at least he stuck his dismount.