Romney’s penchant for remarks and behaviors that are false, dumb, tone-deaf, ill-advised, pandering, implausible, awkward, regressive, out of touch or some blend of the above — and which unfold with no apparent awareness of their having the aforementioned qualities but instead are swiftly defended or sidestepped with an arrogance or haughtiness that compounds the offense — has brought us to the cusp of a linguistic breakthrough.
The 5 Obama gaffes Romney is exploiting in Israel and Poland
By Marc A. Thiessen, Published: July 30
The press had a field day with Mitt Romney’s Olympic gaffe in London. But the real story of Romney’s foreign trip is how the GOP candidate is deftly exploiting a string of foreign policy gaffes by President Obama that have damaged relations with two key U.S. allies — Israel and Poland.
Gaffe 1: President Obama failed to warn Israeli officials before declaring last year, over the objections of senior advisers, that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Worse, Obama’s speech was specifically timed by the White House to preempt an address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress. In other words, it was a premediated decision to publicly stick it to Netanyahu. The gaffe caused an uproar in Israel and prompted a terse exchange in the Oval Office the next day, where Netanyahu — with Obama glaring beside him — explained that the 1967 borders were “indefensible.”
Gaffe 2: President Obama and then-French President Nicholas Sarkozy were overheard trash-talking Netanyahu at the G-20 summit in Cannes. Unaware reporters were listening, Sarkozy reportedly told Obama, “Netanyahu, I can’t stand him. He’s a liar,” to which Obama reportedly replied, “You are sick of him, but I have to work with him every day.” It has long been an open secret that Obama loathes Netanyahu, but Obama inadvertently confirmed it.
Gaffe 3: President Obama chose Sept. 17, 2009 — the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland — to tell Poland that he was caving in to Russian demands and abandoning their missile defense agreement. In 2008, Poland agreed to host U.S. missile defense interceptors designed to protect against the long-range threat from Iran and other rogue states. Russia threatened to target Poland with nuclear weapons if it cooperated with the American plan. But the Poles went ahead despite the threats — only to see Obama throw them under the bus to curry favor with Moscow.
Gaffe 4: The one fig leaf in Obama’s missile defense decision was his promise that he would deploy some form of European anti-missile shield in the future, possibly in Poland. But in March, Obama was once again overheard by reporters, this time telling then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him [then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin] to give me space.. . .This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Medvedev famously replied “I will transmit this to Vladimir.” After being betrayed in Obama’s first term, the Poles were left wondering how he might betray them with the added “flexibility” of a second term.
Gaffe 5: In a speech honoring Polish World War II resistance hero Jan Karski, President Obama referred to Karski’s having visited a “Polish death camp.” There were no “Polish death camps.” There were “Nazi death camps” on the occupied Polish soil. Big difference. The gaffe caused a major diplomatic row with Poland, with Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski blasting the White House’s “ignorance and incompetence.” Obama eventually had to write a letter of apology. Taken in isolation, perhaps the reaction from Warsaw would have been less severe. But in light of the missile defense betrayal and other slights (such as Obama’s decision to go golfing the day of Polish President Lech Kaczynski’s funeral), it caused severe damage to Polish-American relations.
On his trip this week, Romney is quietly highlighting these Obama gaffes by showing how his administration would be different. In Poland, Romney is signaling that while Obama may have sacrificed Poland on the altar of his “reset” policy with Russia, as president, Romney will pursue a “reset” policy, not with Russia but with Poland and the United States’s other central European allies. It is a message that will resonate from Warsaw to Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — swing-states with large Polish-American populations.
In Israel, Romney signaled that the days of trash-talking and back-stabbing Israeli leaders will end if he becomes president. Obama’s gaffes at Israel’s expense have helped cement the impression that, as one former Palestinian official recently told The Post, Obama has shown “a complete lack of an emotion-based relationship with Israel.” Indeed, when Obama met with Jewish leaders at the White House recently and was told that was told he was not being “evenhanded,” he admitted: “You are absolutely right and we are going to fix that … the sense of evenhandedness has to be restored.” Romney’s unspoken message this week is that if Israel’s supporters back home want “evenhandedness,” the best way to get it is to replace Obama in the White House. It is a message that will resonate with Jewish voters (whose support for Obama has dropped 10 points since 2008) and pro-Israel evangelicals in the United States.
No doubt Romney’s foreign trip got off to a difficult start in London. But in the annals of gaffes, which is worse: One slip of the tongue suggesting London might not be ready for the Olympics or five major gaffes that have severely undermined this country’s relations with two of its most important allies?
8/1/2012 1:36 PM EDT
A republican gaffe + equals saying somethying stupid, I.E. gelling the host country “You didnt do as good oif a Job as I did with the olympics, or unecessarily antaginising a countrey by saying they are stupic.
Per republicans as quoted by theissen = doing something different than I woudl. More republican newspeak
8/1/2012 1:00 PM EDT
Couldn’t disagree with you more about President Obama’s comments regarding Netanyahu. This man clearly is trying to circle the wagons around the President to force him into the same old and unsuccessful comments made by many of his predecessors. Since when do we allow an ally to upstage the President and leader of the free world? Netanyahu lacks vision and foresight. He would be better served to quit threatening Iran and just let the sanctions take place. If they don’t work, of course we would join in to prevent Iran from nuclear power. But no, he has to keep threatening Iran while the Middle East, in the midst of huge changes, may be forced to defend Iran even though they’d prefer not too. He continues to build when the UN has told him not too in the Gaza strip and Jerusalem. I’m a Republican with many Jewish friends who believe that Netanyahu is the worst thing that could happen to Israel – and I agree. He has very few diplomatic skills and when this election is over – should President Obama win, it may be the worst four years of his administration.
I’m not pro Israel or Palestine, but this conflict has gone on too long without forcing both sides to compromise. Anyone who thinks this is a one sided affair is naive and has not studied history. You know, World History – NOT the version put out by the Israeli’s or the Palestinians.
And Mr. Thiessen is ridiculous to think that Americans are upset at President Obama over his comments because most of Americans are unaware of what transpired. Those of us who are wish he’d say it in public and put the little man in his place. Mr. Netanyahu – you are little old Israel, NOT the United States of America.
8/1/2012 6:28 AM EDT
You know, if you’re going to play Gaffe Wars, maybe you could do better than to dredge up stuff your opponent said 3 or 4 years ago. Striking while the iron is hot, and all that.
Or maybe you could recognize that the obsession with gaffes is just pointless.
7/31/2012 11:36 PM EDT
Mr. Romney is expending words and money as fast as he can just to stay in the same place. TinMarin
7/31/2012 10:33 PM EDT
Romney was a victim of ignorance, poor research, poorly thought out policy prescriptions. He also showed he was a prisoner of right wing Ideology with a yearning for freedom.
A) In London he repeated the painful criticism of the liberal Labor party to his conservative host, criticism that highlighted the failure of the private sector and Cameron forced return to the public sector.
B) Poor policy Prescriptions. The culture argument failed in both Israel and Poland. Both countries retain large amount of collectivism in there culture. Israel’s healthcare system demonstrate that. The continued role of Solidarity in Poland, there expulsion of Lech is a testimony to the Poles rejecting the Big corporation, weak government model that Lech advocates today.
C) His praise of the Israeli Healthcare system, which evolved from the British Healthcare system uses a mixture of Employer and Government contributions on the payment side. On the cost side, horrors the Israelis employ wage and price controls. His Praise indicates a wish that he could trumpet his sole achievement as Governor.
Romney a man to be pitied rather than praised.
7/31/2012 10:18 PM EDT
In 3 1/2 short years, Obama has managed to squander over 60 years of American Foreign Policy in the Middle East. He has made strategic decisions that both minimize and cast doubt on America’s continued support of it’s “natural” ally in the Middle East and he has given the Israeli people cause to doubt his sincerity and pursuit of pro-Israeli issues at the United Nations.
To advocate for the pre-1967 Border arrangement – to abandon Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights – to then blatantly “disrespect” Netanyahu in the White House during his visit to America in 2010, while failing to reciprocate his own 1st Term visit to Israel, demonstrates Obama’s dismissive attitude towards America’s stalwart ally in the Middle East.
With Obama continuing to give our traditional allies like Great Britain, Canada, Israel, Poland, Germany and Czechoslovakia the “cold-shoulder” – the only accomplishment of record for Obama on Foreign Policy seems to be his early infatuation with the regimes of Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega and Eva Moreno in 2009 – not much to cheer about here!!
And judging that Obama has been outmaneuvered by the Russians and the Chinese at every turn – that he constantly places American interests subservient to Iranian belligerence, based on the naivety that they will be a honest partner for peace, only further demonstrates his sophomoric grasp on Foreign Policy issues and the Geo-Political realities that shape a very dangerous world.
From China to Iran – Syria to Russia – From Egypt to India and Israel to Pakistan – Obama has made a host of concessions for little or no gain – allowing America to look weak with each and every encounter.
He constantly shows disrespect to America’s closest friends. He dismisses India – Shows overt disdain to Britain and Israel – Obama pulls back on promised strategic capabilities to the Czechs and Poles – he squanders the initiative in Iran’s Green Revolution in 2009 and during the Arab Spring – he complicates and “slow-walks” Free Trade Agreements with South Korea and Columbia and pushes the Canadians to offer their Energy Resources to the Chinese.
Obama’’s callow efforts on Foreign Policy only embolden America’s enemies while he continues to undermine the strategies and trust of America’s most valued Allies.
On Foreign Policy Obama is an unmitigated disaster!
8/1/2012 6:20 AM EDT
You made all this up by yourself didn’t you?
7/31/2012 9:48 PM EDT
Need we worry about Romney’s foreign policy experience? He can see Russia from Massachusetts.
7/31/2012 8:38 PM EDT
By now the tired attempts by right wing spin meisters like Thiessen to throw some rhetorical jiu-jitsu into the political contest by accusing Obama of all the countless mistakes being made by Romney is becoming asthmatic. There is no getting around how horribly, horribly bad this foreign trip has become for Romney. Even Republicans recognize it. It is just one more area of presidential expertise in which Romney has demonstrated how hopelessly unqualified he is, and he is beginning to look like this year’s Sarah Palin.
7/31/2012 9:23 PM EDT
Nice try creating an association Romney/Palin, but it does not hold up. They are very different people with pretty diverse back grounds. You sound desperate. answer one question of yourself: Were your standards of “qualification” as high in 08 for President Obama? When you can answer this question honestly and others like it you will become a man of honer. Until then you are you.
8/1/2012 8:03 AM EDT
He, in fact, does look a lot like Sarah Palin, clueless about foreign policy, clueless concerning simple courtesy, clueless about other cultures including our own. Until you can figure out just how stupid, vapid and empty is exactly what they both have in common then you, mikey, might become a man of honer (harmonica, that is). In the mean time try getting some nutrients to your brain, cereal might help.
7/31/2012 8:30 PM EDT
Mr Thiessen, the next time I am on the Titantic, I hope you are with me. I need someone with your optimism.
7/31/2012 8:29 PM EDT
Theissen, are you kidding? Just how much Kool-Aid have you guzzled?
7/31/2012 7:22 PM EDT
Given a choice between Obama and a humanoid robot, I have to choose the Human. I expect that after he loses the election, Romney will press his belly button and his forehead will open revealing an advanced minature super computer. Obviously, his software has flaws. He cannot interact with normal humans, he’s the type of robot that would visit your house and tell you how much your sofa sucks and how much better his is. Then he might tell you that the cookies you claimed to have baked was actually bought from 7-eleven. Then he might ask you for that thing with a hole in it (although hsi advanced software should remember to call it a donut the next time he sees one). I think he”s an alien Robot trying desperately to learn human language and mannerisms.
Romney’s foreign gaffes may not stick with voters – but his foreign money will
Obama campaign seizes on opponent’s ‘foreign policy fumble’, but Romney’s missteps aren’t the real story here
Ana Marie Cox
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 31 July 2012 13.06 EDT
Romney may have put his foot in his mouth overseas, but the entire basis of the Romney campaign has been that money talks. Photograph: East News/Rex Features
On Monday, the Obama campaign condemned Mitt Romney‘s series of global gaffes. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki took a relatively high road in her criticism, though, granted, after a tweetstorm of #Romneyshambles, it’s easy to look dignified. “There’s a threshold question that he has to answer for the American people, and that’s whether he’s prepared to be commander-in-chief,” Psaki said. “This raises some questions about his preparedness.”
But the campaign’s evident glee in his mistakes may have given Psaki some cultural myopia of her own. “He’s now been to two countries, and he’s had two countries where he has made a series of fumbles,” said spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “He’s been fumbling the foreign policy football from country to country.”
If you’re wondering whether that foreign policy football is round or ovoid, then you probably care more about what Romney’s done in the past week than most Americans do. Pressed as to whether the panoply of sports on display at the Olympics might offer a more suitable (or at least less culturally specific) metaphor, Psaki stuck her ground: “I think foreign policy fumble has a nice ring to it.”
I agree, mostly because “foreign” doesn’t just modify “policy” in that phrase. There’s another way that Romney’s fumbles are foreign: most Americans can’t imagine being in a situation where such cross-country mistakes are possible: We’re a nation of stay-at-home mobs. Only 30 percent of U.S. citizens have passports (compared to 60% of Canadians and 75% of Great Britons), 65% of Americans between 18 and 24 polled couldn’t find the United Kingdom on a map and 75% couldn’t locate Israel. What’s Mitt Romney got to worry about?
The diplomacy part of foreign policy has never been central to American voters. If anything, we’ve taken a certain amount of pride in our brashness. Reagan’s jokey threat to “begin bombing” the Soviet Union in five minutes only burnished his reputation as tough negotiator. Serial boor Andrew Jackson is now the subject of hit indie play celebrating him as an emo rock star. And then there’s George Bush.
It wasn’t that long ago that conservatives were using the very smoothness of Obama’s foreign policy touch as proof that he was unfit for the office. In Commentary, Pete Wehner wrote that in Obama’s dealings with other world leaders, he “appears to be making a bet that his personal charm and reticence in defending America against those who are disparaging her will redound to our benefit”. The nerve!
In a less nuanced analysis, noted political historian Hank Williams Jr told Rolling Stone that “it’s obvious” that Obama “hates America”: “when you take a tour, a world tour, to apologize for America. He did that, you know?”
On the even shinier side of the tinfoil hat spectrum, doesn’t everyone know that Obama secretly longs for “One-World Government”>? As Dick Morris told Sean Hannity in May: “It’s happening.” (I look forward to my socialized healthcare!)
Allegations about Obama’s geo-political politesse and corresponding unease with his own country have roots in both racism and xenophobia, which makes it an ugly slur – almost as ugly as the fact that it runs up against: Obama has proven as willing as any Republican to offend the sensibilities of “Euro-weenies” and civil libertarians alike, from his continuation of warrantless wiretapping prosecutions to targeted assassinations.
Our refusal to fully accept becoming – in point of fact, being – citizens of the world makes it difficult for the Obama campaign to capitalize as fully on Romney’s missteps as less estranged inhabitants of our global culture might expect. The segments of the voting public with a vested interest in the substance of Romney’s gaffes (anyone sympathetic to the Palestinians, Anglophiles) may reconsider his fitness for “commander-in-chief”, but for most Americans, the military connotations of that title are all that really matter. And Romney has committed to being just as bloodthirsty as Obama against our enemies, even if it means inflating their importance, so it’s hard to see ex-patriot etiquette as a defining issue.
If anything, it’s Romney’s worldliness that the Obama campaign hopes to hang around his neck. He’s the one with the Cayman Island holdings and the Swiss bank account, the guy whose money is so well-traveled that it uses a bidet. And thousands of jobs that belonged to companies he oversaw liked traveling the world so much that they haven’t come back.
Romney may have put his foot in his mouth while shaking hands overseas, but the entire basis of the Romney campaign has been that money talks. It does, though Romney’s profits, and how he got them, may be speaking more plainly than his advisers would like.
31 July 2012 6:21PM
When did Obama create one job ?
When did he ever take a risk ?
Which US public sector pension funds handed money to Bain and/or hedge funds ?
Prior to the White House he never made any controversial decisions, usually voted ‘Present’.
31 July 2012 6:24PM
If America is the leader of the free world, it has acted as a selfish, capricious lord rather than a wise king. The hubris they’ve demonstrated will end up in an almighty and catastrophic nemesis when they’re on the descent.
It’s going to be even worse than the collapse of the British Empire, or the Soviet Union. I just hope it happens after I die.
31 July 2012 6:29PM
Seeing as I’m not an anti-Obama conspiracy theorist or a Republican or rich and have worked and paid taxes in the US for over 50 years, I have three questions for Mr. Romney:
1) Where, exactly, is all the money you have stashed outside of the USA?
2) How much money do you have stashed outside of the USA?
3) Did you pay taxes on any of it or your other unreported income in the last 50 years?
I voted for Obama the first time and I’m voting for him again! Romney, the perfect Republican.
31 July 2012 6:30PM
Let’s us least hope people remember his visit to Israel and his utterances, but who really cares at the end of the day, and B Obama has failed miserably if you go back and listen to his American Univeristy Cairo deliverance, both as risible as the other imho.
31 July 2012 6:33PM
“Romney may have put his foot in his mouth while shaking hands overseas, but the entire basis of the Romney campaign has been that money talks.”
Well, that’s really the big reason for his trip to Israel now, isn’t it? Not for that penny-ante fundraiser but to make Uncle Sheldon happy so that he’ll write more big checks.
31 July 2012 6:49PM
I assume you are doing a like piece on Obama’s foreign money & his many foreign policy”gaffes”. Apparently you are campagining for OBama most of the time.
I am genuinely sorry but you misunderstand the American voter. Most couldn’t care less what happens overseas. The small percentage that haven’t already made up their mind on gut and emotion rank foreign policy way below domestic problems.
And the heads of the empire want to keep it that way.
31 July 2012 6:54PM
Mr. Romney’s clumsy and noxious gaffes trouble me far less than his “Breathing Room” and “New American Century” comments (which should be troubling to everyone). Even as troubling as this are his secret negotiations with the LIBOR scandalous Barclays and terrorist money-laundering HSBC. His quest for foreign campaign donations (and favors to be granted to the likes of Russian/Chinese mafias and Saudi Arabia) might well be his real “foreign policy.”
Troubling more than humorous.
The oligarchs are merely looking for a Pinnochio, sans strings, to sign legislation that the oligrachs draft (rather than the American People). In that respect, the gaffes disclose the clumsy puppet and the ease with which the oligarchs will pull the strings.
31 July 2012 6:55PM
The most interesting part of an article is often what is missing.
In this case, what’s missing is any mention of what Romney’s gaffes were. We’re supposed to accept Cox’s assertion that there were gaffes and move on from there.
Romney’s remarks in Israel were only gaffes to dedicated Democrats. Many find the proposal that cultural differences are a factor in economic success to be blindingly obvious. And many also likely find Romney’s candor refreshing in the stifling atmosphere of foreign affairs where disingenuity is the rule.
31 July 2012 7:09PM
If Romney somehow does become President, there could be a silver lining to an otherwise ‘orrible, black cloud. And that is that Europeans – and yes that does include you British – will wake up and realise that it’s no longer the 20thC wherein the good old USofA understands and supports us. In an economically harsh 21stC of expanding BRIC nations we will, sooner or later, have to realise that we must huddle together to protect and develop our social democracies. And that means working for a strong EU. M(ormon) Romney’s election could speed up that needed awakening.
31 July 2012 7:10PM
I really don’t understand all the fuss.
I can tell you with absolute certainty that the voters of the U.S.A will get the best president that money can buy.
And if you don’t believe me, and think I’m telling a lie,
Just ask the wizards of Wall Street, they’ll tell you the same as I.