Romneyshambles July 27, 2012


I’d just like to start this post by saying this is actually my third attempt at it. Mainly because every time I finish it, Mitt Romney has either uttered more stupid remarks, or someone has rebuked him. Thankfully it looks like good old Boris Johnson has finally put him in his place, so it’s probably safe to finish.

Mitt Romney had only been in my beloved country a matter of hours, but that was all the time he and his campaign team needed in order to make a series of embarrassing gaffes. Each of which was swiftly followed by rebukes ranging from the mild to the extreme from British politicians. It has been a joy to behold. The majority of the British public answer with “Who?” when quizzed about Romney, although that is hardly a fair reflection given we have a few other things going on in our country right now. However, it’s also fair to say that most of the British press has not taken to him.

Most unusually for an American, he seems very unsure of himself, almost lacking conviction when in front of the British media. Even George W. Bush, a man almost universally considered to be an idiot, had an almost frightening level of self assurance. The British perception of American politics is that everything is highly sanitized and is just a series of highly controlled and pre-prepared sound-bites. So it has come as a bit of a shock to see this guy arrive with much fanfare, only to watch him fumble and insult everyone. Of course it doesn’t help that the current incumbent of the White House is still adored in Europe, so Romney was always going to be up against it. I just didn’t think he’d be this bad.

Mitt Romney meets David Cameron (via Huffington Post UK)

So what has he actually done wrong?

Well for starters, he expressed doubts about the readiness of London — and the rest of Britain — to host the Olympics. He then proceeded to backtrack on those comments by damning the organizing committee with faint praise. There have been well-publicized issues surrounding the availability of security guards and talk of a potential border control staff strike over the last couple of weeks, to which Romney referred to as  “disconcerting.” He then tried to use this to again play up his role in delivering the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City. Ever the statesman, David Cameron gently rebuked his statement yesterday morning by saying;

“We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world. Of course it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

The real magic happened last night, though, when the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, parodied Barack Obama‘s campaign slogan “Yes We Can” and openly mocked Romney in front of a crowd of 60,000 people in London’s Hyde Park.

“I hear there’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we’re ready, He wants to know whether we’re ready. Are we ready? Are we ready? Yes we are!”

Boris borrowed Obama’s famous slogan, telling the crowd: “Can we beat France? Yes we can. Can we beat Australia? Yes we can. Can we beat Germany? I think we can too.” In true Boris style, he then went on to use the same event to have a pop at Greece and Spain for their economic woes. What beggars belief in all of this is that Romney and these guys should be on the same side — Cameron and Johnson are both conservative politicians. It just goes to show how much the US and Britain have shifted, that our conservative government would much rather be friends with President Obama than have some creepy, nervous looking upstart march in and insult everyone.

Typically, it would be damage limitation time for his campaign team. The party line seems to be that yesterday’s events are not at all relevant to the presidential race. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said, “We’re not worried about overseas headlines, we’re worried about voters here at home in America.” Erm. Sorry, but being President of the United States is considered to be the toughest job on the planet largely because of the amount of international diplomacy involved.

If Romney cannot even turn up on the doorstep of the America’s biggest ally without insulting people then I would worry about his competence when dealing with say, the Chinese or the Russians.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid delivered a more sobering verdict to the Huffington Post. “It’s not good for us as a country — it’s not good for him — but as a country to have somebody that’s nominated by one of the principal parties to go over and insult everybody.”

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I had no doubt people across the pond regard Romney as the knob we see him as, but it’s always nice to see it in writing. 

  • Tainda

    Unfortunately the quote by that Louisiana governor is the view of most Americans.  If it doesn’t happen here, it doesn’t exist.  To put it bluntly, it makes me want to vomit.  I get so tired of hearing “We have the greatest country in the world!”  Uhhh, no we don’t, not even close.  I like my country but I KNOW we have problems and they are getting bigger by the day.  If I could afford it, I would move to Europe in a heart beat.

  • Randomfactor

    As Andy Borowitz tweeted:  Mitt Romney is coming across as an out-of-touch rich person in a country that still has a Queen.

  • Just as well he’s off to Israel and Poland next, two countries renowned for their chilled out approach to international relations.

  • David

    Sweet atheism blog.

  • Eric D Red

    Not only the US’s biggest ally, but one that is very close culturally, and with the same language.  Probably the closest, aside from Canada.  If he can’t handle that, how can he have a civil and effective meeting in the middle east, or far east?  Does he even consider them civilized or human?

  • Tom from Cleveland

    Thank you.  A very entertaining post, but Americans will forget about these gaffes by November.  And our biggest ally is actually Canada, but the UK is our best friend from across the pond.

  • Icaarus

    Great article, one gripe. How is England the US’s biggest ally?

  • The Captain

    I’ve also been reading a bit in the british press now about all his “anti-europe” references in his speeches. It seems the Brits have just ignored those as domestic pandering but now are starting to take offense to it.

  • Apologies, perhaps a touch of delusions of grandeur on my part. The British media tends to play up our international standing, yearning for the days of Empire no doubt – and of course some of this rubs of on mere subjects of the realm like myself.

  • Drew84

    You do know that the United Kingdom is not just England right? The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

  • Drew84

    Normally I am not on the side of David Cameron and Boris Johnston (though Boris makes me laugh anyway) but those things are amazing. If Romney wins the election (which I doubt) then he will be the most unpopular US president ever here. I wonder how Romney feels about religion slowly dying here?

  • Eric D Red

    “biggest” is such a vaguely used term. 

    Canada is certainly the “closest” politically and geographically, and “largest” geographically, but politically we’re just not that big in the world.  Arguably (and I’m no expert), the UK has the biggest combination of political closeness and worldwide political partnership with the US. 

    I know, it’s all really just semantics.

  • Icaarus

    I completely understand. In recent memory Americans have had a habit of referring to the UK, Mexico, Japan, hell even Australia, as their biggest ally. I was trying to suss out, without making assumptions, where the comment was coming from. If it was a quote from Romney I was damn sure going to make sure it was used against him. Your nationalism is as as good of excuse as any and, not that you need it, but I forgive your mistake. For the record, by total trading dollars it’s Canada, by imports alone it’s China, and by outstanding debt, it’s CHINA. Yes that’s right, the US actually pays it’s debts to Canada. In general we are also not proud of it, just upset when we get forgotten about, and are the only reason they are not back in the 30’s.

    Only in a sense of militaristic cooperation does the UK even broach the top 5. 

  • Lamocla

    When Obama ran for president they said he doesn’t have any external affair experience. Now that Romney exposes his weakness in this matter, they will play the card that external affair is not so important.

  • Stev84

    Obama is a conservative by most European standards. In America, the Democrats are called leftists, but they’re really center to center-right on most issues. The American political spectrum is shifted so far to the right that the Republicans are more similar to European far right nationalist parties. There is no true left in America, in the sense of organized social democrats, let alone socialist and communist parties.

  • Icaarus

    Yes I do realize that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is more than just England. Please read my other reply, and remember most American politicians think that the UK is nothing more than London and a field of Irish pubs. 

  • I was really hoping Boris would loose the London Mayoral election just because I miss his appearances on Have I Got News For You. I doubt religion dying anywhere enters onto Romney’s radar. I did notice Mark Mardell made a tiny mention of anti-Mormon protesters, I didn’t even know there was such a thing.

  • No

    The Republicans are of course sweeping this under the rug because they’re trying to make the case that Obama’s foreign policy chops suck, which is supposed to equate to Romney’s skill in this area somehow being better. But now Romney has stepped in it on an issue he should be familiar with. 

    Definitely a big election season gaffe on his part because it not only shows his problems on the foreign policy front, it shows he can’t even get it right based on past experience.

  • HughInAz

    I often wish the rest of the world had a vote on who gets to be “the leader of the free world.” It’s only fair, considering what a huge impact the US has on the rest of the world. No taxation (or invasion, or crony capitalism leading to global economic collapse) without representation!

  • Drew84

    Yeah Boris is awesome on Have I Got News For You. Every time he is on it you will know it will be a classic.

  • ???

    Did I stumble into the wrong blog? I thought this was the one where we read and talk about issue facing atheists.

  • Sarah T.

    Ugh, they hypocracy!

    Obama did struggle, at times, with the performance aspects of diplomacy – the giving of gifts, etc. And when he did, he was skewered for it mercilessly in the right-wing blogosphere. Diplomacy, after all, is one of the most important jobs of a president! Unless you are a conservative candidate who is notoriously awkward and rude. Then, “no one” cares.

  • Arclight

     “Yes that’s right, the US actually pays it’s debts to Canada.”

    I assume you meant China? As far as I’m aware, Canada doesn’t really hold much US debt. China on the other hand…

  • Pedro Lemos

    Yeah, because politics don´t affect atheists at all… And this story specifically is only about the possible next president of your country… but no, really, not relevant at all to atheists… or the rest of the world for that matter…

  • grindstone

    London and a field of Irish pubs? My gawd that sounds……beautiful…

  • Baby_Raptor

    Only Israel. 

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yeah. A religious fanatic presidential candidate doesn’t affect Atheists at all… /snark

  • That’s the problem with a two party system.  Each party just has to be closer to you than the other guy to not lose your vote.

  • Biggest in terms of amount of trade.

  • Michael

    In the UK, Conservatives believe in mostly letting people get on with their lives and more money for more work.

    In the US, Conservatives believe in stopping people doing things you yourself wouldn’t do and no money if you don’t have a job.

    Also, don’t be fooled into thinking Romney has offended us. He’s rather like a policeman who calls by your house to give you a speeding ticket after you got caught on a camera three weeks ago and who turns up wearing a Hello Kitty T-shirt, a red nose, a witch’s hat and on stilts. Sure he’s kinda annoying but you’re too busy going WTF to actually be bothered by it.

  •  You and me both.

  • Revyloution

    China holds 6% of the total US debt.  Shocking, I know.

    The largest holder of US debt is…


  • David

     Hey — it’s criticizing Romney, that’s all that matters on the atheist blogosphere.

  • The more i learn about the USA the more obvious fail it becomes…

    P.S.. what the fuck is up with the world when a presidential nominee is granted an audience with currently elected world leaders?

    Imagine, for a moment, that the political opponent of, say, the president of Liberia used David Cameron to try and legitimise their bid for the presidency… it would look like a total farce…

    And that’s what the USA is: a total farce.

    There is only one thing better than seeing Obama elected as the president of the USA and that is seeing him elected for the second time.

  • Michael

    And he is known for making gaffes about Russia. In Poland that may be amusing.

  • Ken

    And only Israel because that’s where the Apocalypse is going to start.  What do you think the TV rights will sell for?

  • Ken

    Not really true.  Nobody forced him to be a dick in public and insult an entire country. At this point, I’d gladly vote for Eisenhower, but he’s no longer Conservative enough.

  • Icaarus

    Actually China holds 26 % of the ~$4.5 trillion US Treasury Debt, which I am sure is the greatest concern with respect to international relations. In comparison, Canada is the 8th largest holder of US treasury debt, so yea, the comment that the US actually pays its debt to Canada has weight. Yes the US citizens have a concerning amount of debt, but this is less important to international relations. 

  • 3lemenope

    Replace Eisenhower with Reagan in that last and the sentence is still pretty painfully true.

  • Icaarus

    Canada is the US’s largest trade partner by $, (China is the US’s largest source of imports), but holds almost insignificant amounts of US treasury debt. The conclusion? US must actually pay Canada

  • Keep going: Eisenhower, Reagan, Nixon, Ford, Goldwater… hell, even George H.W. Bush.  None of these guys would pass the Tea Party litmus test these days. 

    How much further to the right does the damn pendulum have to swing before it starts swinging back???

  • 3lemenope

    Of course, the kicker is that Romney doesn’t pass the litmus test either. Not really. I fully expect the party to fly apart at the seams this time around, heck, even as early as the convention. 

  • JV

    Good point. Too bad most atheists dont recognize Obama’s radical religious past in Rev Jeremiah Wright who is an utter wack job. But since he is a leftist religious wack job he, and Obama get a pass from most atheists. Romney and his fellow religious nuts on the right deserve derision but so does Obama even though he’s been slightly better on some issues important to atheists. It’s lonely being a libertarian atheist.

  • Makabit

    Do Mormons believe in the Apocalypse? I thought that whole End of Days thing was kind of specific Protestant interpretation.

  • Robster

    This ia a man named Mittens! Mitty wants to be POTUS…scary. Will anyone outside Utah respect a POTUS called Mittens? Then, he’ll open his mouth! It’s all down hill from here.

  • Chutney

    I totally agree. Conservatives in America are so far to the extreme right they are no longer conservative. If the right-wing here in the States truly got their way, we would be living in a totalitarian borderline fascist state. I always laugh when Republicans here say that we would “lose our freedoms” if Obama remains president. The only people here in the US trying to take away our freedoms are members of the Republican party. Here is a list of just some of what they would take away from us: women’s reproductive rights; gay rights, especially to marry; voting rights, especially if you are hispanic, black, young, or female; religious freedom, especially if you are Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, or any form of Christianity that is not evangelical (read hateful and judgmental); the right to a free press– this one especially. Anytime a newspaper prints facts they disagree with, the newspaper is “liberal” and printing propaganda; the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which in this country is protected by a living wage, a good education, and protection from corporate overreach in our financial system, food supply, and natural resources–commonly known as regulation. I’d love to know what freedoms these fold think we would lose with Obama and the democrats in the White House? Oh wait, I know! The right to pick up a Sri-automatic rifle and shoot up innocents in a movie theater.

  • Waiting for Romney in Israel.  Just once, I wish some prominent Israeli would say to Americans  “If you don’t really like Jews, and you only like Israel because you think Jesus is going to come here and convert us in some bloody end times scenario, kindly f#ck off.”  

  • Sonorus

    There was no gift issue except in the right-wing noise machine.  The queen loved her ipod loaded with her favorite music.  What right-wingers can’t seem to wrap their head around is the fact that Bush was almost universally loathed and that people around the world mostly like Obama. 

  • dubliner

    Is Wright a whack job? His AIDs comments were stupid but other than that he seemed well clued in for bible thumper.

  • Nice work there my fellow limey


    What Mittens did wrong, but seems to have been missed by the UK press, was write in one of his books about how the UK is a shabby little island where people make stuff nobody wants to buy, (what….like those Range Rovers your funders seem to like to drive Mitt?), and then repeating that at a fundraiser just before bringing his my little dancing pony show to our green and pleasant land.

    I wish some journos had picked up on those proclamations and made the shiny faced twerp squirm some more.

    He is a prat, a plonker, a liar and a tax avoiding shyster….. you are warned USA.

    Elect him at your peril.

  • Frank

    Cannot wait to welcome President Romney into the White House. 

  • Mitt believes in equality, so he was as clumsy in Israel as in England. The man is specious to a degree I have not witnessed before. Automatic chameleon in values and opinions his only consistency. There is no “who” to Romney. 

  • Agnostic

    Looks like the friendly atheists has not only become a Christian bashing but also a political site… mmm…name change required?

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