Saturday, July 28, 2012

Australia: Romney in step with Republican party

The Sydney Morning Herald

Mitt Romney? Give the man a medal

It seems that Romney is not a politician in his marrow, which may help explain the acrobatic extent of the flip-flops in his career. Hard to credit now that he attacked Teddy Kennedy from the left over gay rights during their 1994 Senate race in Massachusetts and that, as governor of that traditionally liberal state in 2006, he enacted healthcare reform that was, if anything, more progressive than the Obamacare legislation he now opposes. By 2012, to win the support of the Republican right, Romney had turned 180 degrees, bowing to every aspect of their culturally conservative world view.

Such drastic inconsistency is rare in someone with real political convictions. Which suggests that Romney might not have many of them. Romney stumbled in London because he has little apparent interest in the world beyond America. Last week he gave his first major foreign policy speech in nine months. His campaign has no senior foreign policy staffer. When Romney has offered a view, it has been either confused, undiplomatic or both.

In this, Romney is fully in step with the party he leads. Today's Republican Party is characterised by a kind of bellicose ignorance towards the world, contemptuous of Obama's attempts to show respect to foreigners, crudely aggressive towards those deemed the enemies of the US, uninterested in its friends. Take the response of Romney's allies to the London debacle, his surrogates professing that ''we're not worried about overseas headlines'', while one media cheerleader dismissed Cameron as ''limp-wristed'' and Britain as ''a second-rate, semi-degenerate nation''.

This, remember, is the party that slammed John Kerry for the crime of speaking French. Its antics, like those of the man it has chosen for the presidency, would be funny were the Republican Party not aspiring to hold an office that is still mighty and, for the rest of the world, deadly serious.

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