Center for Strategic Communication

By Patricia H. Kushlis  

Mitt Romney may be the current poster-child of the Republican Party but that poster has been fraying around the edges for months.  His recent trip to the UK, Israel and Poland was no exception. I’m not sure what the object was – although he did succeed in showing that he was no Obama – at least not in a positive way.

Romney won the party primary by outspending his opponents not because he stood heads and shoulders above the others in terms of intellect, experience or personality.  He was very much a part of the pack of those seven or was it six dwarfs who dominated the primary season in 30-something interminable hour long “debates” – but then who’s counting.  

The fact that he refuses to divulge the contents of his tax returns (save one) which would provide at least a glimpse into his personal wealth reputed to be at least $250 million – see the article in the August Vanity Fair on his finances and off-shore holdings –  suggests that he, err, just might have something to hide. But what is it? Why doesn’t he come clean?  Is it simply because he has avoided paying taxes on much of it while paying, according to Vanity Fair, something less than a 15% rate (The New York Times says 13.9%) on what he has declared to the US Treasury while any American who actually works for a living pays as much as 35%? 

Exactly how many Cayman Island-based funds does Romney own? Vanity Fair reported at least 138 but no one knows for sure. He's got accounts in Switzerland and Bermuda too. No wonder the US middle class has almost no savings and the US Treasury goes ever deeper into the red while the Mitt Romneys, Sheldon Adelsons, Koch Brothers and other Great Gatsbys of these United States get off Scot-free while rolling in their own private dough much of which is secretly stashed overseas.   

Romney's father George released his tax returns when he ran – albeit unsuccessfully – for president eons ago setting the honesty standard for years to come.  Will this standard first be broken by none other than his own son?   

"Mum's the word"?  . . .  Not Exactly

Then there’s Romney’s disturbing “mum’s the word” press policies.  He took exactly three questions from reporters during his gaff-prone visit to the UK, Israel and Poland and when the media complained, Rick Gorka, his traveling press secretary retorted: “shove it” and “kiss my ass” to the US reporter or reporters who had the temerity to raise the question. OK, so Gorka later apologized.

The trip must have been a rough experience for the apparent neophyte – but treating the traveling media disdainfully will not win friends or influence the very people tasked with getting the story out to the voters. Even the Fox News reporter complained in a Tweet and on a Blog about Romney’s lack of access and Gorka’s bizarre behavior.

Does Romney really think all that right wing pro-Greater Israel Super Pac money being lavished on his campaign will be enough to propel him to victory in November?  That his fly-by stop-overs in Israel and Poland will turn enough heads and votes in the American Jewish, Polish and Catholic communities to cinch a tight election?

Jews are certainly an important part of the electorate in Florida and Poles in Ohio – two of the country’s swing states – come November so Romney’s choice of places to visit made sense. Obviously the kiss-up photos ops will be used over and over and over again in campaign ads in target states.  But really; the real-time media coverage has been far from stellar for a candidate attempting to use the trip to burnish his foreign affairs credentials.  The mistakes were just made for Tweeting.    

Did anyone tell Romey that the majority of US Jewish voters are Democrats, tend to vote for the party and do not see eye-to-eye with Macau casino owner Adelson’s support for a Greater Israel at any cost? Will playing up to right wing Netanyahu in front of the Western Wall or genuflecting in Poland to Lech Walesa in silent photo ops make up for the negative headlines in London after insulting the British Prime Minister on the eve of the Olympics? According to The American Prospect, the stories in the Israeli press about his stopover weren’t that laudatory either.    

Opened mouth inserted foot as the old saying goes. 

My favorite: The Sun’s headline “Mitt the Twitt.”

Which makes me wonder: What would Murdoch’s News of the World have written about the faux pas of such a “favorite son?” If that is, the tabloid still existed.  But it suffered from its own excesses too and is, alas, no longer.          

Will the born-again Anglo (I live in New Mexico otherwise I would say white Anglo-Saxon Christians – the storm troops of the Republican Party) – connect with a candidate who doesn’t have a clue as to their economic struggles, goes to London to hobnob with 10 Downing Street, see and be seen at the Olympics but won’t even stay to watch his wife’s horse race in the “dressage” competition, the Olympic event in which it is entered?  Isn’t that a little strange? What ever happened to family loyalty?  Is the horse to be treated like somebody’s dog forgotten on a hot car tin roof?

Usually, presidential candidates know a little something about the world and US foreign policy but Romney has certainly not displayed those credentials to the electorate except to make some unfortunate promises to the Likudniks in Israel that if implemented would destabilize the Middle East ever more than it is already and throw the world’s economic system into a Great Depression tail-spin. Oh yes, he did also say he would spend more on defense than President Obama.  Huh? 

The US spends 20 times more on its military-industrial complex than any other country – China and Russia included. Look where that’s gotten us.  Into messes in the Middle East which as career Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker sagely observed in an interview in the Sunday New York Times are far harder to get out of than in to.

This is fiscally responsible?  I don’t think so.

No, Mr. Romney, Obama’s spent the last four years working hard to turn around the failed and costly foreign policy misadventures of his predecessor. And it is quite clear that he is not afraid to take risks and apply appropriate use of force when it makes sense.  Remember Bin Laden anyone?

But it’s Romney’s secretive personality and his inability to connect with ordinary people – could the problem be Asperger’s syndrome? – that is as disturbing to this voter as his lack of foreign policy acumen, hard line neo-con advisors and a nitwit traveling press secretary.  Please. 

The young Americans representing the US at the Olympics have clearly been trained to be on their best and most gracious behavior – win or lose – and they’re doing a splendid job.   So if 16 year olds can do it, why can't you, Mr. Romney?