So Romney went and tore up his old Foreign Policy Script….

Nob Akimoto

Nob Akimoto is a policy analyst and part-time dungeon master. When not talking endlessly about matters of public policy, he is a dungeon master on the NWN World of Avlis

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61 Responses

  1. Jeff No-Last-Name says:

    I love the fact that, no matter what Romney says, according to the tribalists, he’s right and Obama is wrong.Report

    • Especially because we know that Romney’s wrong and Obama did what Obama had to do.Report

      • Ethan Gach in reply to Jaybird says:


      • James Hanley in reply to Jaybird says:

        I saw what you did there!Report

      • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Jaybird says:

        Which Romney is wrong?

        I’ve noticed two and only two consistent messages from Romney:

        1. Obamacare is Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil!!!!!! 70 million off insurance, the return of pre-existing conditions, all the horrors that the PPACA, bad as it is, fixed — these are all Good Things.

        2. Israel will set our foreign policy in the Middle East. Whatever Netanyahu wants, Netanyahu gets. If you thought Blair was Bush’s lap-dog, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

        As for “Obama doing what he had to do”, no. You’ve **never** heard me say that. You’ve never heard any of the Dems / liberals / progressives here say that. We’ve called out what we see as problems in the Obama administration (and there are many). I’ll admit to my own tribalism, but I don’t defend contradictory policies.Report

        • Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

          Replying to myself…

          3. Romney’s way of “getting tough on China”. When the workers at a Bain-owned auto plant begged Romney to help — to do ANYTHING — to keep their jobs from going to the Chinese, Romney’s response was… nothing. As far as I know, he didn’t even acknowledge their existence.

          But we’ere supposed to trust that after he becomes President, THEN he’ll do something. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.Report

    • zic in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      You might enjoy troll counts. .

      Interesting way to analyze things.Report

      • Kim in reply to zic says:

        … Obama hires trolls. umm… like Axelrod.
        This is why we get words like Romnesia and Malarkey.Report

        • zic in reply to Kim says:

          The ying and yang of trolls and angels; human nature as measured by social media. Likely some sort of bias exists in the assumptions used structuring the queries that provided the results given.Report

          • Kim in reply to zic says:

            The internet provides a wonderful forum for learning how to piss people off, particularly autistic-spectrum folks.
            You can see the results in the second debate.
            Overheard: “My greatest job-skill is being able to piss aspies off”Report

  2. Michelle says:

    Once again, Romney does a complete 180, stepping back from everything he said in the primaries. The guy has no soul.Report

    • NewDealer in reply to Michelle says:

      The sad part is that this tactic has a good chance of working.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to NewDealer says:

        Of course it does, because most of the electorate is easily manipulated.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          SO true, on both sides I might add. Notice how in a foreign policy debate (that was really an economic debate thanks to weak moderation) we heard nothing about the use of drones and extrajudicial killings, and how those two things alone may well, now, be responsible for the continued challenges we face abroad?Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

            I was only half paying attention for parts of it? Did they mention Bahrain?Report

          • James Hanley in reply to Philip H says:

            This is why I don’t bother watching the debates. They’re pure political theater, where the serious issues will be studiously avoided because they’re too risky for either candidate to talk seriously and honestly about.

            Without meaning (too much) disrespect to you all, I know folks here tend to be political junkies, but really, what do you get out of watching the debates?Report

          • Creon Critic in reply to Philip H says:

            Nothing about the use of drones? Drone were brought up (transcript, via WashPo),

            SCHIEFFER: Let — let me ask you, Governor because we know President Obama’s position on this, what is — what is your position on the use of drones?

            ROMNEY: Well I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends. But let me also note that as I said earlier, we’re going to have to do more than just going after leaders and — and killing bad guys, important as that is. …

            Romney’s remarks go on and then Obama’s reply includes specific reference to countries where drones are used, Pakistan and Yemen, without the word drones and discusses building partnerships and the policy beyond drones.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Creon Critic says:

              “Well I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world.”

              When you REALLY think about this statement (and it is a sentiment that is not unique to Romney or the GOP), it is downright terrifying.Report

            • MikeSchilling in reply to Creon Critic says:

              And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes

              Is there anything that man doesn’t know?Report

    • Burt Likko in reply to Michelle says:

      Etch-A-Sketch! Etch-A-Sketch! Etch-A-Sketch!Report

  3. North says:

    It was an impressive performance of flexability and abrupt 180’s. This was somewhat undercut by the fact that Mitt has done this schtick twice before. That said why would we replace Obama with Mitt? Obama obviously is more familiar and in control of his foreign policy than Mitt would be enacting Obama’s foreign policy.

    Man the neocons must be livid. Then again they’re probably so desperate to win at this point they probably won’t care. It’s not like Mitt couldn’t just be flipped back their way after inaguration.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to North says:

      No doubt, señor. Romney’s stale talking points about Israel were just pathetic. All that hooey about Iran was an Icky Thump on a busted bass drum.

      Stupid is dangerous. Al Qaeda is not in charge in northern Mali. Here’s what’s happening: Khadafy’s erstwhile mercenaries are now moving back from whence they came, bringing their weapons and munitions and vehicles with them. They’re taking over in places such as Niger Republic, Chad, Burkina Faso and they’re making trouble in northern Nigeria.

      Some Neocons are livid but they’re mostly harmless in the context of these times. They’ve been completely disgraced and not even Romney is obliged to listen to them any more. But not all Neocons are livid. Last night showed Romney reciting the bullet points put together for him by his foreign policy advisor Dan Senor, well-known neocon, a silly person who worked in the Iraq CPA. Senor is also responsible for all that Israel is our Best Buddy in the Whole Wide World schtick.

      Not even Mitt Romney knows what Mitt Romney believes any more. Obama and Hillary have played this Iran situation about as well as could be done. If Romney tends to agree with Obama, it’s because Romney has no ideas of his own.Report

  4. Mike Dwyer says:

    Speaking practically here: What did it hurt for Mitt to try this? Assuming debates are aimed at undecided voters, I believe the polling I read yesterday was that foreign policy is the top issue for only about 4% of them. For the rest he just had to tell them that he wasn’t planning on nuking Iran the day after he is sworn in. Mission accomplished.

    My inclination has always been to believe Mitt when he sounds like a moderate. It’s the times when he flirst with the Far Right that I think he is pandering. So while I understand the criticisms that this is another flip-flop, I think we probably also saw the ‘real’ Mitt Romney last night. If I was inclined to vote for him and had reservations about his foreign policy, last night would have probably eased my mind.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Romney’s just another piece of propped-up cardboard. Nor do I believe this debate was about wooing the Undecideds, who I have concluded are as mythical as Magnetic Monopoles and Hippogriffs.

      This was Mitt Romney at his most desperate. Desperation does peel off some layers of deception but usually the process only exposes more of the same. Mitt Romney demonstrated just how little he knows about the world at large or the problems we face. Obama was able to demonstrate what an inconsistent weathervane Romney truly is. Maybe other people saw other things. I make no claim to impartiality. This much does seem clear: Romney’s out of his league and has been exceedingly ill-advised on foreign policy. I wouldn’t trust this guy with the lives of our servicemen.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to BlaiseP says:

        “Mitt Romney demonstrated just how little he knows about the world at large or the problems we face. “

        Sounds like Obama circa 2004. When it comes to foreign policy I’m of the camp that believes that it is mostly controlled by the military and lifetime bureaucrats. Presidents are mostly just pawns in that game. So I could care less about any lack of foreign policy experience because you basically get that as on-the-job training.

        I will say that I loved the back-and-forth about the Navy. Obama made some very good points there. It’s not about the size, it’s the capabilities. We don’t need hundreds of surface ships anymore.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Yeah, I loved that too. All the “size matters” jokes aside, ever military professional I’ve worked with, or who is in my family, expects the size of the military to change as needs and technologies change. It’s only defense contractors who seem to want to keep it biog and bloated.

          But I do think we need a few more classic bayonet charges from time to time.Report

          • Kazzy in reply to Philip H says:

            My friend in the military summed it up thusly:

            Because the military by-and-large is not a meritocracy and promotions are based more on seniority than anything else, it is almost guaranteed that the highest ranked members will be older. These guys tend to fight the wars of their youth, not the wars of today.

            Forget about planning to fight the wars of tomorrow… we can’t even adequately fight the wars of today.Report

            • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

              your friend hasn’t seen the secret list, I take it?
              The military, in peacetime, lets the asskissers rise to the top.
              But they play war games, and keep a list of “who’s actually good at fighting”
              In case of emergency, they will simply promote the competent.

              Patton could never have risen within a peacetime army. Didn’t have the temperament.

              One thing I love about the US Military — we’ve got a plan for everything! (including how to invade Djbouti)Report

              • Kazzy in reply to Kim says:

                I’m not sure anything you’ve said is true.

                What I mean is that we’ll never see a 35-year-old 5-star general, no matter what his qualifications, skill set, and aptitude might be.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          I dunno. Obama demonstrated a clearer set of foreign policy priorities than McCain, who came across as a cranky old guy who joked about “Bomb, bomb Iran.” If McCain had been elected, we would surely be at war with Iran.

          Presidential policy is usually that of their advisors. Romney’s foreign policy team is really, really bad.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


          I normally vote for presidents based on Fo Po, and be damned to domestic policy. That’s why I was initially a McCain supporter, and not happy at all about Obama (I’d have much preferred H. Clinton, who not only had 8 years in the White House observing FoPo policymaking–and we know she did, and wasn’t just a decorative First Lady–but also had several years on the Senate Armed Services Committee and on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe). But McCain made a screeching neo-con turn and picked a frighteningly unqualified and ignorant joke as his veep, and in the face of that, Obama’s less arrogant approach to other countries became the better bet, in my opinion.

          But Presidents aren’t just pawns in the Fo Po arena. As Blaise says, they tend to set the Fo Po of their advisers, and they choose their advisers. They choose their SecState, they choose their SecDef, they choose their NSA, etc. The type of people they choose will determine their Fo Po, and different candidates will choose different types of people.Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to James Hanley says:

            James – let’s look at Bahrain then: Do you honestly think Candidate Obama, if asked in 2008 whether he would support a democratic uprising in Bahrain, despite the fact that they were an ally in the region, he would have said, “No, they’re on their own”? Somehow he was convinced though that our bases there were more important.

            Presidents are easy to manipulate when it comes to this stuff, especially with the large intelligence aparatus we have. They have to trust their advisors who all have their own agenda.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Mike Dwyer says:


              I don’t disagree that presidents are manipulable. I very much agree–presidents have limited time/attention and a million issues to deal with, so it’s a rare prez who’s going to spend a lot of time thinking independently about almost anything, including FoPo.

              But they are manipulated primarily by the people they select (and they can “unselect” (fire) anyone who strays too far from the president’s general preferences). So who they select matters. So unless we can expect the two candidates to choose the same type of people, it still matters which ones we choose. As little as I liked Al Gore, I’m quite sure he would have been manipulated by someone more amenable to my FoPo tastes than the evil trinity of Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz.

              But, yes, the idea that the man himself directs the foreign policy–it’s not impossible, but it’s going to be a rare bird. And as long as the public elects presidents based primarily on domestic policy issue (DoPo?), we’ll mostly have presidents who are personally more interested in domestic policy than foreign policy, so who are very unlikely to really take the lead in setting the FoPo agenda.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to James Hanley says:

                “As little as I liked Al Gore, I’m quite sure he would have been manipulated by someone more amenable to my FoPo tastes than the evil trinity of Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz.”

                But everyone brings biases into the job. Cheney and Co. were all scarred by their experiences under Bush Sr. and that drove their push towards Iraq. Gore’s people would have their own baggage. Wesley Clark could have easily ended up in a high profile position and he saw Eastern Europe as the nexus of all world problems. It’s not inconceivable that he could have turned 9/11 towards his agenda.Report

              • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Clark’s not that dumb. he’s on record as saying global warming’s the biggest national security issue right now…Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                But everyone brings biases into the job.

                True, but not exactly a rebuttal to what I said.

                As to Clark, certainly he was less than ideal. (I know a guy who knew Clark personally, greatly admired him, and yet worried about him getting too much influence-“a loose cannon” was how he described him.) But less dangerous than Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz. (I have a friend who worked in the Ford White House and knew Cheney/Rumsfeld then–a life-long Republican, he reacted with horror to their reappearance.)Report

            • Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              CFG might have ahd something todo with that. A democratic revolution in Bahrain would have happened, if it hadn’t been for Saudi Arabia.

              You’re outraged about Saudi Arabia interfering with Bahrain’s elections?

              Me, I’m outraged about saudi arabia interfering with OUR elections.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

                I’m not sure about Bahrain. Here’s the thing: Bahrain’s Shiites do have a pro-Iran tilt since they’re mostly Farsi. They’re leftovers from when the Persians ruled the area. It’s changed hands quite a few times but the old dynamics of the ancient Arab/Farsi dispute are still at work.

                So when the Shiites of Bahrain protest, all the Sunni Arabs can see is the black hand of Persia once again reaching across the Persian Gulf to cause trouble. And let’s face it, Iran is stirring up trouble wherever it can. KSA persecutes its own Shiites for the same reasons.

                That’s what always happens when a single regime can’t get its own people to believe in their country over their tribal and confessional beliefs. Only Strong Men can keep these squabbling factions from killing each other. But until the people believe in the country itself, democracy can never arise. Sad but true.Report

              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                come now, spain’s an obvious counterexample to that theory.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Kim says:

                You might explain how Spain is a counterexample to anything.Report

              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Spain hates itself, and doesn’t believe in the superarching idea of being Spanish and not Catalonian, Castillian or what have you.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Spain, like most countries in Europe, has identity issues. They solved quite a few of those questions by expelling their Jews and Moors, simultaneously destroying their intellectual and financial frameworks. They spent all that gold from the New World on two things: gilding the inside of their churches and renting every mercenary in Europe to wage war on Protestants in the Netherlands. Seventy years later, they were bankrupt.

                Spaniards are united around la Santa Fé. The Basque and Catalonian identities only prove my point: that genuine democracies only arise in countries where the citizens believe in that country. A nation is a great fiction.Report

              • Kim in reply to BlaiseP says:

                so spain is now not genuinely democratic?
                … odd.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Kim, you can’t hide silliness behind cryptic utterances. Spain has innumerable problems. It’s almost ungovernable. Catalonia and the Basques and the innumerable Spanish who left for other jobs in the EU don’t feel particularly enfranchised. The workers have voted with their feet and the Catalans aren’t even speaking Spanish much any more. Spain’s banks are a mess, its unemployment has reached intolerable levels, it’s full of African refugees who are now going back home — what’s there to believe in any more?

                I repeat myself: the hallmark of a bad country is that its citizens don’t believe in it. They have other identities and resort to those instead.Report

          • BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

            FoPo is mostly reacting. All these grand policy initiatives turn into communiques and are blithely ignored. Every day brings forth fresh hell and there’s not much to do except react to it, which is where the personalities of all these advisors come into the picture.

            Look at 9/11 for a case in point. For a moment, let’s put aside all the tiresome and oft-repeated bluster about how Bush shoulda known, etc. It happened. We were blindsided. We got whacked. It became a question of how the President would react to it. The Decider in Chief went with Cheney’s reaction, that much seems clear in retrospect. Obama has placed an astonishing degree of trust in Hillary Clinton, a trust Bush43 never gave to Colin Powell. He did give that trust to Condi Rice. Bush43’s signal failure was trusting Cheney and Rumsfeld, whose pointy shoulders and elbows made sure nobody else’s voice was heard.

            The presidency is too big for any one person to manage without a competent team of delegates. I wish presidents were obliged to name their cabinet secretaries in addition to their vice presidential candidates. We’d get a clearer picture of what we’re likely to get from a given presidential candidate.Report

      • bookdragon in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Even my husband, pretty non-partisan and prone to reacting to debate stuff with about as much emotion as Mr. Spock, was dismayed by some of Romney’s dumber statements last night.

        Iran needs Syria for access to the sea? Um, for someone who keeps talking about how important Iran is as a threat, you’d think he’d have at least looked at it’s location on a map.

        But my favorite comment on the debate is a headline (LA Times): Romney endorses ObamaReport

        • Philip H in reply to bookdragon says:

          But my favorite comment on the debate is a headline (LA Times): Romney endorses Obama

          HA! Just goes to show that there really aren’t any new ideas between the candidates.Report

        • James Hanley in reply to bookdragon says:

          Iran needs Syria for access to the sea?

          Heh, and Syria really only has about three ports, Latakia, Tartous, and Bania, none of which are of very significant size. I’ve seen the port in Latakia–Syria’s largest container port–and I walked past it in about three minutes. Meanwhile, Iran has ports on both the Caspian and the Gulf, including a Gulf port that’s larger than anything Syria has.Report

          • bookdragon in reply to James Hanley says:

            The sad thing is that that wasn’t just a slip of the tongue. Romney’s said it several times while campaigning. I was kind of sad when Obama didn’t hit back with something along the lines of ‘Can we get a map on screen? Governor can you point to Iran?’Report

  5. zic says:

    Notice what he said on Obamacare?

    Republican candidate Mitt Romney raised the issue of the healthcare reform law when asked how he will pay for a sharp increase in military spending. He said he would repeal it and dramatically scale back other healthcare programs. “To the extent humanly possible, we get that out,” he said of the health law.

    There are many, many parts of Obamacare already implemented; others with serious investment already made.

    Weasel words.

    And cutting health care to cover military spending.Report