New Romney campaign slogan: I am not a wimp!
The narrative that Mitt Romney is a wimp is gaining steam. Even Newsweek is on board, with an upcoming Romney cover reading, “The Wimp Factor: Is He Just Too Insecure to Be President?” Asked about the cover on CBS Face the Nation, Romney said he doesn’t worry about what the media says, if he did he’d never sleep and he sleeps just fine. Perhaps he ought to rethink his Nixonian approach to the media, as it doesn’t seem to be going very well so far.
Watch the Face the Nation segment here:
Romney, claiming not to have seen the Newsweek cover, had a ready answer, “They tried that on George Herbert Walker Bush, he was a pretty great President.” But in reality, that narrative did hurt the first Bush. Romney denied that anyone has ever suggested this about him before, but I find that hard to believe. Not only do his flip flops lend that narrative credence, but Romney is that quintessential prototype of the bully/wimp. The worst bullies are also the biggest wimps – their hatred of their own powerlessness/weakness and obsequious catering to power is, in fact, why they are bullies. We saw this psychological complex brought to international fruition under W.
What’s making Romney look like a wimp? Well, there was the “Mitt the Twit” disaster of London, wherein he was compared unfavorably to Sarah Palin by the British press. There’s his obvious and rather stunning lack of preparedness to do the most basic diplomatic duties like issuing a few supportive, banal words about the Olympics. And then there’s the constant flip flops.
Here are the Israel trip flip flops so far:
Fist, foreign policy adviser Dan Senor previewed Romney’s “foreign policy” speech slated for today, saying that Romney would “respect” Israel in a decision to use military force against Iran, and hours later Romney walks those comments back saying he’s using his own words, but unintentionally quoting President Obama’s stance.
Adding to the cluster that is a Romney trying to prove he can be a good leader is the desperate attempt to block the press from his fundraiser, announced yesterday. And guess what? Today he backtracked on that, as well. When will Romney learn that this is not Nixon’s age, and he can’t run from the press all of the time, and that blocking the press because he’s afraid of them is only making things worse. Has he learned nothing from Sarah Palin’s 2008 epic disaster?
Here’s a preview from Romney’s upcoming Bushian speech, “Make no mistake: The ayatollahs in Tehran are testing our moral defenses. They want to know who will object, and who will look the other way.” Could he be any cheaper? How exactly has the Obama administration looked the other way, and could Romney have evoked the horrors of the past any plainer?
Backtracking on his aide’s announcement of full support for military action against Iran under Romney — specifically he was asked if he was “giving the green light to bomb Iran” — the presumed Republican nominee said, “I’ll use my own words and that is I respect the right of Israel to defend itself and we stand with Israel. We’re two nations that come together in peace and that want to see Iran being dissuaded from its nuclear folly.”
Watch here on CBS Face the Nation:
Those are not actually Romney’s words, those are Barack Obama’s words. Obama has repeatedly said that he respects the right of Israel to defend itself. To be fair, many people say those words, but the point is that Romney claimed he was the “opposite” of Obama on Israel, and yet Mitt Romney can’t even come up with his own words on the spot. Perhaps this means he would not have signed the $70 million in aide on Friday that the President did, or that he wouldn’t have bothered with the toughest sanctions against Iran yet.
Romney has tried to define his foreign policy as the opposite of Barack Obama, so using Obama’s own words to state his position is indicative that Romney doesn’t have a policy he can talk about.
Romney said prior to the trip that he wouldn’t criticize the President on foreign soil, although he already did, in both Britain and in Israel via an interview for a paper owned by his donor Sheldon Adelson. But even this was done in the same cowardly way as his campaign told British press that Obama didn’t appreciate the “Anglo Saxon” heritage of Britain like Romney did, and the sneaky way Romney tried to use the Australian foreign minister to attack the President by proxy.
Romney used not attacking the President on foreign soil as an excuse as to why he would not be articulating his own foreign policy, as if he can’t tell the difference from criticizing someone else and stating his own position. If that’s true, Romney is admitting that he can’t even take step one of a diplomat.
Senor said Romney’s policy is that preventing Iran from nuclear capacity is our “highest national security priority.” Those are war drums you’re hearing. But you’re not supposed to hear them.
President Obama has agreed that “all options on the table” while implementing the strongest sanctions yet against Iran.
All of this has Mitt Romney telling the press, I don’t care if you call me a foreign policy wimp, which evokes Nixon’s I am not a crook line in its transparent lack of truth. This is the man who had to walk back his Olympic comments after being smacked down by Prime Minister Cameron, got slammed by Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr for putting words in his mouth, and is now using Obama’s own words to define how his foreign policy is “opposite” of Obama.
Mitt Romney’s optics problem is that whereas George W Bush was a swaggering faux cowboy appealing to the Right’s authoritarian fantasies of themselves as independent alpha males taking on the world, Romney says the same things as Bush but then backtracks, bows down, fawns over, and makes a general fool of himself trying to right the Titanic that is his foreign policy tour (we are Britain because we love Downton Abbey was a real low). Romney’s word is worth nothing.
Add to this the way Romney lets foreign leaders kick him into backtracking on his stupidity, and he appears weak. The Right was trying to defend Romney’s Olympic gaffe by saying he had the courage to tell the truth, but that defense dies out of the gate, for obvious reasons, but seeing this through the lens of the Right, it falls flat on its face when he backtracks hours later. Romney appears to be the worst of W without the false illusion of strength.
Romney has the wimpiness of H.W., the secrecy of Nixon, and the epic fail of Palin. This is not a strong leader; this is an insecure, delicate man who can’t even handle the press at the Olympics and responds to that disaster by trying to hide from the press.
America does not like wimpy presidents, and one thing President Obama will never be painted as is a wimp.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.