Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is off on a foreign trip this week to show Americans he’s got what it takes to be the leader of the free world. Yet a number of foreign policy gaffes by his campaign are creating the impression that the candidate is not ready for the world stage.
Romney himself isn’t big on specifics when it comes to telling American voters what he would do differently as president. He denounces anything that President Obama has done in terms of foreign policy as 'wrong' without explaining why and what he would do differently. He's even caught himself out there attacking Obama’s policies and then inadvertently agreeing with them minus even a hint of irony.
The lack of detail and cohesive foreign policy vision isn’t Romney’s biggest problem. His advisers have repeatedly identified countries that no longer exist, which has made the entire camp look like amateur hour. Back in April, Romney adviser Richard Prosper attacked Obama’s policies towards Russia saying, “The United States has become a spectator on issues of national security. We’ve also been embarrassed by North Korea where again it continues to be a conciliatory leaning forward approach and yet the North Koreans will launch a missile surprising the United States by violating their agreement. You know Russia is another example where we give and Russia gets and we get nothing in return. The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia, yet Russia does nothing but obstruct us, or efforts in Iran and Syria.” Problem is the nation of Czechoslovakia hasn’t existed for nearly 20 years. Ouch.
The candidate himself has described Russia as the United States’ biggest geopolitical foe in an effort to slam the president for comments made on an open mic to Russian President Dimitri Medvedev. Romney was then swiftly ridiculed for this remark by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. This week, another Romney adviser warned of the increasing threat towards the United States from the Soviet Union. Perhaps the Romney campaign is trapped in a time machine, which may be the only viable explanation about why his policy platform on many of the issues of the day seem so backwards and out of touch.
On the eve of this foreign trip, an anonymous Romney adviser is reported to have claimed that President Obama doesn’t fully appreciate our “anglo-saxon heritage,” a remark so racially insensitive that even some of the biggest Obama detractors surely winced. This comment was slammed by Vice President Joe Biden, who said “Despite his promises that politics stops at the water’s edge, Governor Romney’s wheels hadn’t even touched down in London before his advisors were reportedly playing politics with international diplomacy, attempting to create daylight between the United States and the United Kingdom where none exists.”
Short on specifics, long on gaffes, and marked by racism to boot, Mitt Romney just isn’t up to snuff when it comes to foreign policy. It will be interesting to see if he can do anything while on his trip abroad to change the impression that he may just not know what he’s talking about. It’s bad enough that most of his foreign policy advisers are holdovers from the disastrous Bush years; Romney seems to know so little that he actually listens to advisers who think the Soviet Union still exists and who have been proven wrong time and time again. The idea of this man as the 'leader of the free world' is very frightening, to say the least.
Zerlina Maxwell is a democratic strategist and soon-to-be attorney. You can follow her on Twitter: @ZerlinaMaxwell