By Charles Krauthammer, Thursday, August 2 –
At the outset of his recent foreign trip, Mitt Romney committed a gaffe. In answer to a question about the Olympics, he expressed skepticism about London’s preparations. The response confounded and exasperated Romney supporters because it was such an unforced error. The question invited a simple paean to Olympic spirit and British grit, not the critical analysis of a former Olympic organizer.
Soon that initial stumble was transmuted into a metaphor for everything that followed. The mainstream media decided with near-unanimity that the rest of the trip amounted to a gaffe-prone disaster.
Really? The Warsaw leg was a triumph. Romney’s speech warmly embraced Poland’s post-communist experiment as a stirring example of a nation committed to limited government at home and a close alliance with America abroad, even unto such godforsaken war zones as Afghanistan and Iraq, at great cost to itself and with little thanks.
Especially little from the Obama administration, which unilaterally canceled a Bush(43)-era missile-defense agreement with Poland to appease Russia. Without any overt criticism of the current president, Romney set out a foreign policy of radically greater appreciation of and fidelity to American allies.
Yet all we hear about Warsaw is the “gaffe”: two phrases uttered by an aide, both best described as microscopically rude. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a pack of reporters hurled questions of such journalistic sophistication as, “What about your gaffes?” To which Rick Gorka suggested that the reporters kiss his posterior, a rather charming invitation that would have made a superb photo op.
The other offense against human decency was Gorka’s correlative directive to “shove it.”
The horror! On the eve of the 2004 Democratic Convention, Teresa Heinz Kerry offered precisely that anatomically risky suggestion to an insistent Pittsburgh journalist. Not only did she later express no regret, but Hillary Clinton reacted with: “Good for you, you go girl.”
So where’s the Romney gaffe? Is what’s good for the Heinz not good for the Gorka?
And at his previous stop, Jerusalem, Romney’s speech was a masterpiece of nuance and restraint. Without directly criticizing Obama, Romney drew pointed distinctions deftly expressed in the code words and curlicued diction of Middle East diplomacy.