Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Gaffe Games: Comparing Romney and Obama

The hubbub surrounding Mitt Romney's Olympic comments in response to Brian Williams' question asking if Britain seemed ready "to your experienced eye?" is utterly ridiculous.

Romney responded to Williams innocuously, "You know, it's hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the-- private security firm not having enough people-- supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging..."

The British press and American leftists jumped on this comment as a "gaffe," which is absurd for a multitude of reasons.

Mitt Romney is an Olympics expert.  He went in to the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and saved it from bankruptcy and security disaster.  God forbid the man who saved the post-9/11 Olympics security nightmare comment on today's Olympic security nightmare!  One London resident laughably responded to Romney's comment, "What would he know?"  I'm left to wonder if Britons even know that Romney ran an Olympic Games - perhaps they just think he's just another loudmouth American politician with no knowledge of the situation. 

London's Olympic problems have been all over the news and such a source of criticism within the country itself that they've coined the phrase "omnishambles, a word first applied to government screw-ups that has been used to describe the crisis-prone buildup to the games."  In this context the hashtag some used yesterday #RomneyShambles to mock Romney doesn't seem like such a bad thing - Romney simply commented on the shambles of the "crisis-prone buildup to the games."  British Labour lawmaker David Winnick used the word when he demanded of the CEO of the security group that failed to provide enough security workers, "It’s a humiliating shambles for the country, isn’t it?"

Heck, Piers Morgan even defended Romney, saying, "It’s no secret over here that for the last three weeks the security around the Olympics has been a shambles."  Piers continued:
“The outside firm they got in to run it has been all over the place – they didn’t have enough people and the army had to be drafted in. So, Mitt Romney was only saying exactly what has been happening.”
“He’s run an Olympics, so I thought he was perfectly entitled to be critical,” Morgan continued. He said that the English press jumped on him because they wanted Romney to “talk us up a bit,” but the substance of Romney’s critique was on point.
“I thought it was a bit of a fuss about nothing,” said Morgan. “He was just speaking the truth which can sometimes be rather unpalatable.”
Now, if Great Britain was honest, they'd agree that Romney just said what everyone in their country has been saying.  As Joshua Trevino said yesterday on Twitter, "Romney has accomplished what was unthinkable 24 hours ago: Londoners will now proudly defend their Olympics."

The only reason they are upset is because of the whole idea of "You can't complain about my country, only I can complain about my country!"  Winnick, who noted complaining was a British national sport, even said, "There is a feeling, and I’m sure it applies in the United States, that … families can quarrel bitterly in private, but should anyone from the outside have a go, the family is united. In other words: 'Mind your own business.'"

This is understandable, but hardly enough reason to consider this a ghastly gaffe that will lead to a rift between the two country or resonate with the American public.  Especially now that it's becoming a tit-for-tat with David Cameron making a dig at America, specifically Utah, with the remark, "Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."  This is simply a silly issue that will die out quickly.

Of course, no conversation is complete without talking about Obama's numerous Great Britain gaffes. As I wrote in 2009, the UK Telegraph had a devastating article on how the Obama Administration is neglecting foreign policy, especially our special relationship with Britain.  Some highlights from the article entitled Barack Obama 'too tired' to give proper welcome to Gordon Brown:

Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister. ...

A British official conceded that the furore surrounding the apparent snub to Mr Brown had come as a shock to the White House... "A number of our US interlocutors said they couldn't quite understand the British concerns and didn't get what that was all about." ...

Mr Brown handed over carefully selected gifts, including a pen holder made from the wood of a warship that helped stamp out the slave trade - a sister ship of the vessel from which timbers were taken to build Mr Obama's Oval Office desk. Mr Obama's gift in return, a collection of Hollywood film DVDs that could have been bought from any high street store, looked like the kind of thing the White House might hand out to the visiting head of a minor African state. ...

The official dismissed any notion of the special relationship, saying: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn't expect special treatment." ...
The next day I had a follow up post on Obama's embarrassing foreign policy gaffes with links to the  following articles:

No10 had tried to keep the present a secret, refusing to answer reporters who asked what President Obama had given to mark the reaffirmation of the special relationship. However, the Evening Standard discovered the truth through White House insiders.

One reason for the secrecy might be that the gift seems markedly less generous and thoughtful than the presents taken to Washington by the Prime Minister.
Brit reporters in bit of a snit over lack of Obama-Brown news conference
They see it as a snub.
"Embarrassing," says Benedict Brogan of The Mail. Embarrassing, that is, for Brown.
"Mr. Brown might lament," writes Toby Harnden of The Telegraph, "that despite the so-called 'special relationship' Britain is now getting the same treatment as the president of Uruguay but he need not despair. I'm told there's a chance he might get drinks with Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday evening."
And who could forget the time Obama gave the Queen of England an iPod filled with his own speeches?  
Or when Obama infamously returned Britain's gift of a Churchill bust?  Romney got in a good dig at Obama a few days ago when he said, "I'm looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again."  

Olympic expert Mitt Romney repeating what everyone has been saying about the London Games, which unfortunately may have wounded British pride but had the benefit of uniting the country behind the Games, is nothing compared to Obama's "embarrassing" snubs of British leaders and dismissal of the "special relationship" the United States has with Britain.

This point is, this kerfuffle shouldn't hurt Romney in the US (of course, with a liberal media desperate to take the heat off of Obama, who knows how they'll try to drag this story along).  This will all blow over soon, with the excitement of tonight's Opening Ceremonies and other news stories quickly overshadowing it.  The Obama campaign can't keep bringing it up because, if anything, the incident reminds people of Romney's leadership during the 2002 Olympic Games where he dealt with national security issues and efficiently cut spending to dig the Games out of a fiscal hole (a quality that is desperately needed right now with $16 trillion national debt.)

The quotes that will endure are Obama's real gaffes (if speaking your mind can really be considered a gaffe) on the economy saying, "The private sector is doing fine," "If you've got a business you didn't build that," and "We tried our plan and it worked," and the full context of these quotes are just as bad.  They reveal a president who is distressingly out of touch with economic realities, not to mention the American creed which includes rugged individualism and personal accomplishment. 

Does he really think with 8.2% unemployment ANYONE is doing fine?  Does he really think the idea that "If you've used a public road, you've benefited from government assistance and therefore you owe the government all your success," is a winning message?  Does is really think his plan which has brought 41 straight months of 8.1-10% unemployment, adding $5 trillion to our $16 trillion in debt, and 1.5% GDP growth this quarter worked?

In the Olympic-sized Gaffe Games, Obama takes home the gold.

1 comment:

Flagstaff said...

I think it needs to be said explicitly--Romneys comment wasn't even a criticism of Britain, the games, or anybody involved. "...the stories about the-- private security firm not having enough people-- supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging..."

Unless I've missed a key element of criticism left out of the quote, this is simply an answer to the question, "Is Britain ready?" The only thing missing from Romney was, "I only know what I read in the papers." It wasn't even his opinion, it was a statement that there had been reports in the media that were not encouraging. How do you get more innocuous than restating what is common knowledge?

It's all anti-Romney hype to get Obama off the hot seat from his implication that anybody who is successful in America thrives only because of those who went before, not because of what they uniquely added themselves.