With British Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson yapping at his heels, “Mitt the Twit” skedaddled out of London, tied his dog and an effeminate blond guy to the wings, then barrel rolled his flying circus into Jerusalem. As the clowns pitched the tent, Romney adjusted his tie, slicked back his hair with a little Bain snake oil then cleared his throat. Out of his mouth rolled this trinity of holy shit for the Holy Land.
1. Holy shit! Did Romney just green-light a unilateral Israeli strike against Iran?
Romney’s foreign policy adviser Dan Senor set the stage for Romney’s speech near Jerusalem’s Old City, saying
“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor would respect that decision,”
“Respect” is a bizarre word choice in this context. But it implies that as president, Romney would give the green light to an Israeli attack. One immediate consequence would be that the US would also get dragged into this war. This sudden belligerence contravenes the Pentagon’s strategic decisions under both Bush and Obama. I have explained before why this is unnecessary and would be a profoundly bad idea. The threat from Iran’s nuclear program, while real, is more political than military. And the political situation is rapidly trending away from Iran thanks to the Syrian rebels. The urge to contain Iranian ambitions does not warrant lighting a conflagration from the Nile to the Hindu Kush. Angling for votes in Miami-Dade County does not warrant playing with that kind of fire.
2. Holy shit! Did Romney just argue for the White Man’s Burden?
Citing “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations” by David Landes, Romney examined the economic disparity between Israel and Palestine (lowballing it by several orders of magnitude) and said
“…if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.”
In his analysis Mitt also attributed the difference to
“the hand of providence.”
The book he is citing has been widely criticized for its Eurocentrism, and deals almost exclusively with Europe and a supposed ‘Protestant work ethic.’ It dismisses the role of Europe’s extensive global colonialism at the time of Europe’s economic rise. The book ultimately attributes Europe’s economic success to white culture. While in Israel, Romney applied this book’s thesis to the situation in the Holy Land, blithely ignoring the fact that the occupied Palestinian territories are essentially one big prison. Using his logic, one could make the same argument that culture was the only reason for the economic disparity in Apartheid South Africa and the Jim Crow South.
This statement was not simply a gaffe, it was part of a prepared statement and was repeated. It is alarming on a number of levels. It raises the bone-chilling possibility that a presidential candidate believes that some groups of people are inherently inferior to others. It also raises the possibility that Romney truly, truly believes that the super rich (including himself) have the wealth they do because they are somehow superior to the rest of us.
Saeb Erakat, a senior Palestinian Authority official understandably responded,
“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation.”
If the hand of providence and Romney’s superior culture get him elected, Romney will eventually have to deal diplomatically with the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Palestinians will now be deeply suspicious of him as he enters that process. Any US-led diplomatic effort will be dead in the water because Romney will have no credibility as a mediator with one whole side. As the Holy Land slouches toward a third Intifada, a Romney Administration would be completely neutered in any attempt to broker peace because of Romney’s big stupid mouth.
The comment also raises red flags about Romney’s potential domestic economic priorities. If Romney truly believes that the rich are inherently superior human beings, will he pursue a course of deregulation and greater corporate welfare at the cost of middle class benefits like Stafford Loans, Head Start, Social Security and Medicare?
3. Holy shit! Why does Sheldon Adelson have a front row seat to the Flying Circus?
As I have explained, Sheldon Adelson’s shadowy money is the prime funding source for the Romney campaign. The casino magnate who is being investigated for allegedly violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has promised to donate up to $100 million to Romney’s campaign.
Apart from being one of the richest men in the world, the biggest political donor ever, and under investigation for alleged serious violations of anti-corruption laws, he also apparently receives lavish VIP treatment within Romney’s inner circle when Mitt hits the road. While Mitt Force One was banking over the Mediterranean, what would this mega-billionaire have been whispering in Romney’s ear?
It is possible that Adelson is actually the—for lack of a better word—intellectual influence behind the racist statement. After receiving huge donations from Adelson during the primaries, Newt Gingrich suddenly transformed from a Middle East moderate to a militant Zionist. He went so far as to say that the Palestinians were an
This comment, rebuked from the right and the left in both the US and Israel, was then echoed and defended by—wait for it—Sheldon Adelson.
If he can buy a front row seat to Romney’s three-ring flying insult circus and possibly even write the script, what else has Sheldon Adelson paid for? What would his role be in a Romney Administration? If Romney steps into the Oval Office in January, will Adelson buy a mansion in Washington D.C. so that Mitt can serve him breakfast in bed and give him massages? Is a pet US President the popular luxury among elderly billionaires these days? Will he accompany Mitt on all his excursions, a pair of dark sunglasses lurking in the wings? Or will Adelson just write rabid extremism into Romney’s foreign policy?
Romney shed some light on the meaning behind all of these statements after leaving Jerusalem. You may recall Mitt’s totally absurd statement in March that Russia
“is without question our number one geopolitical foe.”
On Monday, Romney updated his Number One Foe list. He said,
“The number one national security threat, of course, to our nation is a nuclear Iran.”
It can be difficult for a simple vulture capitalist to keep all these foreigners straight, especially since he hasn’t had to concern himself with their strange scurryings since he sat out the Vietnam War in France, proselytizing for the Mormon Church. But once we find a decent arch-nemesis, shouldn’t we stick with them until they’re vanquished? Or they at least apologize? Hell, Bush had a whole Axis of Evil, and he stuck with them for 8 years. And that worked out so well for everyone. Screw this liberal president’s ‘nuance.’ We need a good old-fashioned enemy, like grandpa.
Anyway. This reversal illuminates the whole purpose of Romney’s trip to Jerusalem. If you run the statement through Google Translate from Bullshit to English, it reads,
“I haven’t followed foreign policy at all for the last quarter of a century, and I was nostalgic for the Cold War. But then a wealthy radical Zionist offered me 100 million dollars, and I wasn’t about to turn that down, was I?”