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Stumbler in Chief

Despite my opinion of Mitt Romney, I always thought that at least he is more intelligent than our last Republican president. But now I’m not quite sure about that.

Romney is in the middle of a trip to England, which is supposed to show him acting like a statesman. It also helps that the Olympics are starting on Friday, because it gives Romney a chance to remind people that he ran the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

Until now, the Olympics seemed to be the only part of his career that Romney was willing to talk about. If fact, he is so proud of his Olympics that he wrote a book about it called “Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership, And The Olympic Games“. His role in the Olympics was a major factor in his winning the governorship of Massachusetts (something that he doesn’t like to talk about).

But it turns out that Romney saved his Olympics on the back of the taxpayers. He lobbied for so much money from the federal government that he had to be registered as a lobbyist. Which is hypocritical since Romney attacked both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum during the primary for their work as lobbyists.

So how much money did Romney get from the government? How about $1.3 billion from the feds, plus more from the state of Utah. That’s more taxpayer money spent than all the previous Olympics put together. Even Republicans called the Salt Lake games “an incredible pork-barrel project”, “a ripoff of the taxpayers”, and “a national disgrace”, and called for a federal investigation into corruption.

So what does Romney do when he arrives in London for their Olympics? On Wednesday, Romney was interviewed by NBC, and in an easy warm-up question was asked about his wife’s horse, Rafalca, which is competing in the Olympics dressage event, and whether Britain is ready to host the Olympics. Easy questions. But Romney blows both of them.

First, he insults the Brits by saying about the preparations for the Olympics “There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials – that obviously is not something which is encouraging.”

Prime minster David Cameron, whom Romney was scheduled to meet on Thursday, shot back:

We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.


And the mayor of London also strikes back in a speech at the Olympic torch ceremony:

There are some people who are coming from around the world who don’t yet know about all the preparations we’ve done to get London ready in the last seven years. I hear there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes, we are!

Note that Cameron and the Mayor are both conservatives. Imagine if it was someone who didn’t like him.

Oh, and about that question about his wife’s horse? Romney replied:

I have to tell you. This is Ann’s sport. I’m not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not be watching the event. I hope her horse does well.

As conservative Andrew Sullivan put it:

WTF? If your spouse’s horse were in an Olympic contest, would you not even watch? This is either a fib, designed to insulate him from whatever minimal fallout there is from owning a dressage horse; or it’s true and he’s just unlike other human beings. I mean, Obama makes sure he sees his daughters’ high school sports games. But Romney won’t even watch his wife’s horse at the Olympics?

One British newspaper tweeted “Can this get any worse for Romney?” Indeed it could. Another British newspaper even made a list of all the “boobs, blunders, clangers” that Romney has already dropped in just the first two days of his trip.

The worst gaffe? Romney commented to the press about his meeting with the head of the MI6, the international arm of the British secret service. But the MI6 schedule is supposed to be secret and it is a serious breach of protocol for Romney to mention it. Oops. So much for burnishing his foreign policy credentials.

Time magazine sums it up this way:

Romney’s blunders have undercut the entire purpose of the trip, which was to prove he could adequately represent U.S. interests with international leaders despite his scant foreign policy experience. He hasn’t met that standard so far. Even Drudge has turned against him.

UPDATE: Carl Lewis, one of our greatest Olympic champions of all time, said of Romney’s visit to England: “Some Americans shouldn’t leave the country.”

And even Karl Rove, who is spending millions of dollars to get Romney elected, is shaking his head at Romney blowing what should have been a perfect photo-op.



  1. Hassan wrote:

    As much as I hate Obama and want him to lose, there is no way on earth Romney can beat Obama. Romney has no strengths, while Obama has a lot. Obama only weakness that Romney wants to capitalize is economy, and Romney sucks so much that he would not be able to take advantage of it.

    I am going to call it landslide victory for Obama this year right now.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Good to see that Conservative American Exceptionalism (a.k.a. being a boorish jackass to every other country and culture) is back in full swing. I can’t wait to see Romney running around in a cowboy hat. Maybe he’ll be in boots/spurs too.


    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    OMG, the comments on that link are priceless.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink
  4. Bard wrote:

    Didn’t it come out a few years after the SLC Olympics that the reason SLC got the Olympics was because they had bribed the IOC?

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
  5. Don wrote:

    IK, I was about to say that the comments on The Guardian link are precious. You beat me to it.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink
  6. Arthanyel wrote:

    Hassan – why are you so negative on Obama? I admit he is nothing like the leader I thought I was voting for, and I am profoundly disappointed in many of the things he has done, but given the terrible situation he inherited and the unprecedented resistance of the Republicans, I think he has done pretty well, and certainly could do more if the government operated even halfway rationally.

    Clearly I believe Romney and the Tea Party are unmitigated disasters and won’t be voting for any of them, but I am interested in what makes you hate Obama.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Romney is desperately trying to distance himself from his own comments now. Good luck. The Brits don’t seem willing to forget quite so easily.

    Don, I was talking about the comments on the link in comment #2 (above).

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  8. ptgoodman wrote:

    Of course I’ve read about Romney’s gaffes in the UK. I wondered if the criticism was from just us in the U.S. So I Googled up a UK newspaper, and it turns out that Romney’s comments are not going over all that well there. It’s not “just us.” It’s just Romney.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink
  9. Hassan wrote:

    ARTHANYEL, in 1990s, Clinton administration (with congress) passed a bill that was Patriot Act 0 in essence. Muslims overwhelming voted for Bush in 2000 as he promised in perhaps public or privately to muslim community that he would overturn it. Then Bush did what he did, and I think in 2004 muslims were quite confused if they should instinctively vote for Kerry or not, but they were not much enthusiastic about him.

    Muslims thought that no party cared for them. But Obama came along, and muslims once more thought that he may be genuine person who promises to end wars, stop killing innocent bystanders abroad, roll back patriot act, close gitmo etc.

    But in all these matters Obama outdid Bush, he used drones to the max, we used to complain about illegal detention without due course, Obama is killing US citizens (muslims ofcourse) without due course.

    I think it should not come as surprise that muslims share many family values with republicans (at least what republicans pretend to say), but most republicans are quite hawkish and anti-muslim. So naturally democrats like Obama say things that could be popular with muslims, and muslims would vote for democrats and Obama despite not sharing family values. But if democrats and Obama not even fulfill those shared values, then there is no point for voting them.

    Now Mitt Romney would be same or worse than Obama for us. But now we are so disgruntled with these two parties, we really do not care. We know we are going to suffer regardless who comes in power. So I just want Obama to lose to make him and democrats suffer. Not that Romney is going to be any better.

    Frankly, for “progressives” (not muslims), Obama may have done quite good. If you are a progressive it would make complete sense to vote for Obama, and be somewhat content for his accomplishments. I think from progressive values he should get 70% marks. Of course if he had done other 30% (wars, civil rights), even muslims would have voted for him.

    PS: I am talking about mainstream muslim majority of US. Not totally liberal muslim, which would be hardly in 100s.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Permalink
  10. jonah wrote:

    Romney did a perfectly fine job running the Olympics, but so have lots of other people. When reporting my earlier column I asked Lisa Delpy Neirotti, who teaches sport management at George Washington University, whether she could name a single U.S.-based Winter or Summer Olympics — going back three decades — that wasn’t managed well. She could not. But Romney is deeply invested in the idea that it takes superhuman skills to save an Olympic Games from the disaster and international humiliation to which it naturally inclines. The idea that it can be done reasonably well even by a past-its-prime power like Britain is too much for Romney to bear. And I’m afraid he let it show at a very inopportune moment.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink
  11. Max wrote:

    Romney is a bad politician trying to imitate a good politician. He’s neither slick nor authentic.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink
  12. Arthanyel wrote:

    Hassan: Thanks for the complete and very well presented response. I understand and sympathize. The false dilemma of the current two party system leaves a lot us out in the cold, and leaves us choosing the least bad option instesad of the best one.

    At least the Democrats don’t demonize Muslims, or keep trying to make the US Christian theocracy, which is a tiny step in the right direction. But IU can see why that’s not much help and why you are justifiably frustrated.

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink
  13. Jon Schuller wrote:

    Every day that goes by, every news cycle we endure shows Romney as the Bush wannabe he really is – just better looking. His gaffes are already legendary, his visit to London a disaster and he hasn’t reached Israel yet. he will probably point out that there are more Jews living in Israel than all of Florida.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink
  14. Dave TN wrote:

    Hassan , voting for Romney is what in these parts we call cutting your nose in spite of itself. I see the not wanting to vote democratic because it offends your sensibilities but if voting Republiecan violates your sensibilities even more, then one might consider stepping back and look at the big picture. Most Americans look at voting as lesser of two evils, but in more simpler terms we tend to vote in our best interest but also sometimes make it our voice of discontent.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink