A short while ago -- and a month before the Republican convention in Tampa, in which M. Romney is to have his big moment of glory by being officially crowned as their candidate for President -- he and his people thought they could afford to take some time out for a trek to the oddly chosen trio of Britain, Israel, and Poland, so that he could show how fit he is to perform on the international, that is, the diplomatic, foreign policy stage.
I wondered about this, because I couldn't understand how it could help but come out badly for him.
Republicans don't make good diplomats at all. They never have, and, in their current guise, they never will. Diplomacy calls for a certain degree of pleasantness, and they are not naturally pleasant people, as Democrats are. They come to tell people what to do, not to ask what they would like to do.
The natural mode for Republicans is to be ultra-pugnacious and habitually prickly. They're powerless to avoid that. If they weren't that way, they wouldn't be modern Republicans. They drove out all their nice guys long ago, by bitterly accusing them of being moderates -- as if the education they received never mentioned the ancient Greek wisdom that urges moderation in all things, to say nothing of a related Biblical passage that speaks of the three leading virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, "These three. But the greatest of these is Charity." The Republicans have no idea whatsoever of what "charity" is, except toward the already filthy rich, and all their political tenets show that, over and over again.
Diplomacy calls for liberal amounts of tact and humility. Republicans never heard of those things either.
Therefore Romney steps off the plane in Britain and almost at once questions the readiness of Londoners to host the Olympics that were about to start. He probably thought that such a remark was only his due, because he is said to have had something to do with an Olympics that was apparently held somewhere in the desert fastnesses of Utah back in the early twos, when people were deeply preoccupied with what would happen on their computers when the new millennium would begin. And being the naturally superior type, M. Romney thought that nothing would do but that the Brits must immediately have the benefit of his experience in such matters.
Ironically a lot of Londoners had already had the same opinion, because having an Olympics in town doesn't make things easy for any big city's citizens, what with the traffic, the dislocations, the expense, and all the rest of that garbage. But Londoners are like all other human beings -- something that never seemed to occur to the chronically obtuse M. Romney -- and they don't appreciate a foreigner suddenly showing up and passing bad judgments on the place and its inhabitants, no matter who he is and no matter what those locals themselves had said previously. And that was just one of many such stumbles that Romney and his people made in merry olde England before those Guilties Abroad (with a salute to Mark Twain) finally made their escape, with their capacious behinds bristling with a myriad of the typically subtle but stinging British barbs.
They headed for Israel with relief and high optimism, secure in their belief that, as good regressives, they would be received there with the greatest appreciation. But just to make sure, they and their hosts dropped an almost complete blanket of silence over the media, and several days passed with scarcely a mention in the news about how Romney's visit was going. But finally grumbles began being heard, questioning the timing and the wisdom of Romney even making this trip, because not only were the Guilties in Israel being completely blanked out by their own caution, but also back in London the Olympics had started, and sports-happy Americans and others all over the world couldn't have cared less about where the Republican candidate was and whether his feet were at the ends of his legs instead of the other place where he usually keeps them.
It was only spoilsports that took an interest in seeing that even in Israel, Romney had done his bit to back up the contention of those like myself that the right wing shows its butt every time it opens its mouth. First he pledged that if he became President, he would back up Israel to the hilt, should it bow to its hawks and conduct an unprovoked attack on Iran -- a monumental and completely unnecessary act of stupidity that would be sure to create a tie-up in oil supplies to the West like one wouldn't believe, and that would be bad for business, usually a strict no-no for Republicans. Also there would be the tilt it would make of a much greater proportion of that oil toward countries in East Asia, especially the Chinese.
As if that kneejerk salute to numbskullery wasn't enough, Romney then went on to praise the Israelis for their culture, comparing it with that of the Palestinians and saying that that superiority of the Israelis was clearly shown in the great disparity between the gross domestic product of Israelis, which he put at 30K per person, with the Palestinian GDP per person, which he put at only 10K. But it turned out that actually his Israeli figure is a little low, being closer to 35K, while his Palestinian figure was far too high, being actually less than 3K, so that the ratio of prosperity is really closer to 20 to 1 in Israel's favor, instead of the 2 to 1 that Romney stated.
That even greater disparity in relative wealth between the two groups would seem to boost Romney's point sky high -- were it not for about a hundred little inconvenient factors that haven't seemed to penetrate any part of his skull -- such as the fact that both Gaza and the West Bank are little more than open-air prison camps, which Israel keeps the clamps on by any and all possible means, controlling the borders, making it impossible for the Palestinians to export and import stuff as needed, depositing criminal gangs called settlers everywhere and using them to steal Palestinian land piece by piece, cutting down Palestinian orchards, diverting or poisoning as much Palestinian water as they can, making Palestinian travel between their own towns as difficult as possible by segregating the roads, maintaining numerous checkpoints, and especially by erecting enormously high walls that cross-cross the West Bank in every direction--
The list of the ways that Israeli keeps a chokehold on the Palestinians' necks and keeps tightening that grip goes on and on, so that the Palestinians must be geniuses culturally and in every other wise to be able to generate any income at all.
One irony here is that some Israelis themselves are not at all pleased by Romney's remarks on the superiority of their culture as shown by the huge disparity in incomes, and they always try to stay away from such comparisons, feeling that it plays into the hands of the stereotypes about Jews and money.
Actually, it does much more than that. It reminds us of why such a massive disparity exists, and the Israelis don't like any threat of a light being shone on their myriad misdeeds in that respect, the same as the exception that Romney always takes toward any mention of the tremendous difference between the size of his bank account(s) and that of the average American.
If Romney and his folks did anything at all in the third and last leg of his trip, Poland, that is not widely known. It doesn't seem that whoever is in charge there greeted him with open arms. But he did get the endorsement of Lech Walesa. When he led the great Polish trade union, "Solidarity," Walesa was tough enough and trouble enough that he unexpectedly ended up having as much to do with the subsequent breakup of the USSR as anybody, even R. Reagan. But now he is obviously badly off his game, and Solidarity, which is still very much in the business of being a union, loudly rejected any notion of supporting the visiting American whose party does all it can to break up old unions and prevent any formation of new ones..
In a WW 2 movie -- I believe it was "Battleground" -- a chaplain goes around posing this question to the GI's -- "Is this trip necessary?"
In relation to M. Romney and his side of things, the answer to the same question must increasingly be "No." But from the point of view of the rest of us, it has to be a resounding "Yes!" And it's actually too bad that his antics overseas weren't more closely observed and reported. Ever since the arrival of S. Palin, Republicans have been great for staging all manner of clown shows, and M. Romney is constantly right in there, doing his bit, though the laughs he induces are always closer to groans.