Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

British Out of Bounds on Romney

The spirit of Olympic competitiveness raises unexpected patriotic fervor to protect Mitt Romney from Brits who have been bashing him so joyfully. He is, after all, our boob and they have no leftover colonial right to exercise their snobbery so freely at his “blunders and clangers.”

What if he did say on arrival that the state of preparedness was “disconcerting?” Does that give the Mayor of London the right to use him as a punch line to rouse Olympic crowds? Or PM David Cameron to sniff, “Of course it’s easier if you hold Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere,” in a bitchy putdown of those Romney managed in Salt Lake City?

Americans watching him through two election cycles understand that Romney is a stereotypical rich kid among political rowdies, trapped in a school where they routinely steal his lunch money.

If he gets mussed up here over tax returns and Bain claims, there is something substantial at stake, not just a verbal gaffe like his unfortunate anatomical reference to the “backside of 10 Downing Street.”

As he tiptoes overseas with the announced intention of not setting off foreign policy land mines, the Republican candidate keeps stepping into cow flops instead, but it may be asking too much of him not to do so.

He is clearly a new incarnation of “Babbitt,” the narrow-minded American businessman in a novel that helped Sinclair Lewis win a Nobel Prize almost a century ago for his depiction of a booster who “considers it God's purpose that man should work, increase his income, and enjoy modern improvements.”

In that role, Mitt Romney is also the undisputed champion of issue flip-flopping but there is no reason to expect him to show a matching verbal dexterity on more mundane matters.

As he makes his way to Israel and Poland, patriotic Americans can only hope the possible future President can show restraint in trying to ingratiate himself with Yiddish expressions or Polish jokes.

Intentional standup comedy is not his long suit.

Update: The campaign has found a way to protect Romney from himself, by taking the unprecedented step of barring the press from his Jerusalem fundraiser with casino owner Sheldon Adelson and other fat cats of the Jewish persuasion.

That will cut down on reported gaffes but hardly improve his relations with media mavens who have been increasingly complaining about Palinlike efforts to keep him under wraps.
 
Update update: Another flip-flop: Reporters allowed to hear Romney remarks but not Q&A.
   

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