Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney may have been to Harvard University, but his recurring gaffes suggest that he is not ready to be commander-in-chief of the world’s biggest superpower. It has been an eventful summer of blunders for Romney and co.
Two months before his July very public stumbles in England and occupied Palestine, and speaking before a private $50,000 fundraiser in Boca Raton, Florida, Romney declared that 47 per cent of the American electorate were irrelevant. At the event, he labelled almost half of Americans as non-tax payers with a victim mentality, elaborating that it was not his job “to worry about those people”. That is despite his mother admitting that his father was on government welfare as a child.
Romney’s insincerity was further evident when he asked his running mate to furnish the campaign with 10 years of his income tax history, while he refused to release any more than two years of his own. In the documents which were made public, it was shown that Romney paid less than 15 per cent income tax, while the average for Americans is typically more than 30 per cent.
After disregarding 47 per cent of the US public, Romney declared that Palestinian-Israeli peace is “almost unthinkable to accomplish”.
It isn’t a coincidence that this outlook is shared by those on the extreme right of Israeli politics such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who proclaimed in December 2010 that peace with the Palestinians “is impossible”.
Trying to sound convincing, Romney rather absurdly equated the Palestine conflict with the other long standing, unresolved disputes between Taiwan and China, and North and South Korea. Although all go back several decades, it is stupid to suggest that the situation in Palestine – an entity under foreign military occupation – shares any similarities with sovereign Pyongyang or Taipei.
By embracing the right-wing Israeli viewpoint, neo-conservative presidential advisers have always advocated American and international disengagement, allowing Israel to impose its own “facts on the ground” while ignoring international law by building illegal Jewish-only settlements on occupied land.
Almost a year ago, at a Republican debate, Romney pledged that before making important decisions he would call his “friend Bibi Netanyahu” to ask him: “Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do?” Romney supposedly met Netanyahu when they both worked at Bain Consulting Group in the 1970s.
In the same debate, Romney said fondly that Netanyahu was “not just a friend, he’s an old friend… We can almost speak [together] in shorthand.”
However, his “old friend” Bibi is not quite so sure about this friendship. Responding to a Vanity Fair magazine question earlier this summer, Netanyahu said: “I don’t think we had any particular connections, I knew him and he knew me, I suppose.”
Besides lying about his friendship with Netanyahu, it was remarkable that a US presidential hopeful would commit publicly to let the head of a foreign state decide US foreign policy.
At every corner Republican pundits come to Romney’s defence and say that the Harvard-educated nominee’s statements are “not articulate”, “not elegant” or “gaffes”. Parroting his advisers’ remarks is Romney’s main predicament. He lacks ingenuity and, like George W Bush, would let his advisers run the White House.
Such traits are not those of a national leader, but of a man who poses a dangerous threat to America and to world peace.
Mr Kanj (www.jamalkanj.com) writes a weekly column on Arab issues and is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. This article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.