Archives for: July 2012, 27
It must have seemed to a top Romney official, The Daily Telegraph won't say which one, that he was among close friends, that he could let his hair down and speak frankly, that coverage would be unflaggingly friendly. There is a history at the publication.
The Daily Telegraph is about as conservative as a conservative daily newspaper is going to get in Great Britain. If British elections were confined to readers of The Daily Telegraph, the Conservative Party would remain in charge of Parliament in perpetuity.
Almost two thirds of the readers of the paper support the Conservatives with their votes and their hearts. That was according to a survey conducted in 2005. 64% of those who read The Daily Telegraph said they were going to vote for the Conservatives in that year's election. That compares with 32% of the general public who voted for the party that year.
To say that The Daily Telegraph is very, very conservative is a laughably dramatic understatement. These are folks whose cultural sensibilities are out of the 1930s. They are gleefully partisan, Conservative with both large and small "c" and Tory right down to their socks.
The editorial staff was one of the first hosts of the Mitt Romney advance team as he prepared his "no apology" tour of the world. Advisors to Romney were sent to assure the Tory paper that the leftist attitude of the Obama administration would be a thing of the past after November. As Mitt Romney becomes President Romney, a new spirit of cooperation would replace the current left-wing coolness. The case they made was simple, direct, and unintentionally explosive. One of the candidate's top people was quoted directly:
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the advisor said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Racism is pretty close to an expression of America's original sin. Slavery was the birth defect at the beginning of the American experiment. Local politicians might nibble at the edges. When Tea Party caricatures are accidentally sent by public officials, photoshopped images of the President as a half clothed savage or the First Family as animals, immediate apologies are the order of the day.
Even those of us who are partisan Democrats and unabashed liberals would rather give the benefit of the doubt to the Romney entourage. The Romney team had to have been quoted out of context. But the dyed-in-the-wool Tory believing newspaper provided that context. They made clear as could be the tone of the conversation.
In remarks that may prompt accusations of racial insensitivity, one suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.
The Romney campaign went into action right away. In an email sent to CBS news, Romney's press secretary said the comments were completely unrepresentative of Mitt Romney and his campaign. "It's not true. If anyone said that, they weren't reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign."
Actions speak louder than denials and Mitt Romney himself offered the best rebuttal of the comments.
In rapid succession Governor Romney:
Forgot the name of the political head of the opposition party, referring to Ed Miliband as "Mr. Leader"
Publicly announced the classified identity of the head of Britain's spy agency MI6, previously an open secret, never discussed on the record
In an unintentional double entendre, unprepared for British colloquialisms, spoke of looking out the Prime Minister David Cameron's "backside."
- In the moral equivalent of calling your neighbor's baby ugly, challenged the ability of Great Britain to prepare for the Olympic Games they will be hosting
This last became uglier than your neighbor's baby, as protesting crowds were led by the Mayor of London, and Prime Minister Cameron talked of Mr. Romney's leadership years ago of the US Olympic committee in Salt Lake City. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere." The mayor of Salt Lake City has jumped in, offering to send a map and directions to Mr. Cameron.
The noise of the combined acrobatic pratfalls have momentarily drowned out the comments of Romney campaign officials to The Daily Telegraph. Rhetorical attacks on Obama's African sensibilities and boasts of Romney's ethnic commonality with America's Anglo-Saxon mother country now share media attention with other Romney-esque news.
It has been a deft performance. Mitt Romney has firmly backed up the campaign denial of the racial slur. The governor himself is walking, talking proof that neither he nor his campaign possesses a superior understanding, or any understanding at all, of the cultural ties between the United States and Great Britain.
But life is filled with the newness of possibility. There are always second chances. Mitt Romney's next stops are Israel and Poland, where the candidate will have opportunities to recover, new chances to demonstrate his superior diplomatic abilities on the world stage. The campaign is optimistic.
What could possibly go wrong?