Romney offends the British

The Republican hopeful blew through London, blundering from gaffe to gaffe.

Just call him “Mitt the Twit,” said Graeme Wilson in The Sun. Republican hopeful Mitt Romney blew through London last week, blundering from gaffe to gaffe and breaching protocol with cringe-worthy awkwardness. First, the “wannabe president” questioned our readiness to host the Olympics, saying that security glitches were “disconcerting,” and adding, “It is hard to know just how well it will turn out.” Then he cast doubt on our patriotism, wondering aloud whether the British would really “come together and celebrate the Olympic moment.” Displaying a total misunderstanding of protocol, he bragged that he had been given a secret briefing by the head of British foreign intelligence. Then, right after a meeting with Ed Miliband, he appeared to forget the opposition leader’s name, calling him “Mr. Leader” instead. Finally, he said he enjoyed being in “the Nation of Great Britain,” which is not a nation. He was actually in England, one of four nations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The British official response was scathing, said Toby Harnden in the Daily Mail. Cameron took a dig at Romney’s past as head of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, 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.” Even more humiliating was the way London Mayor Boris Johnson led thousands of Brits in jeering Romney at a ceremony to mark the end of the torch relay. “There’s a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready?” asked Johnson. The crowd shouted, “Yes we are!”

It was our first look at the Republican nominee, and most Britons came away unimpressed, said Alex Spillius in The Telegraph. Romney managed to be “utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive.” But should we have expected anything else? In his xenophobic campaign rhetoric, “a standard refrain is to run down Europe”—and that includes us. Never has he praised the special relationship “he now belatedly trumpets.” He doesn’t seem to understand the state of U.S.-U.K. relations, either—they are robust and do not need to be “revived,” as he put it. One official called him “worse than Sarah Palin in terms of basic diplomacy.”

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It’s terrifying that this man could be elected, said Rod Liddle in The Sunday Times. “Have you ever seen the film Being There, in which Peter Sellers plays a vacuous imbecile who through a series of misunderstandings ends up poised to become president?” This is what awaits if Romney is elected. We can only pray that MI6 didn’t actually tell him anything sensitive during that briefing he blabbed about, as it will surely end up dribbling out of his undisciplined mouth. Don’t overestimate the American public: “Half the people who are allowed to vote over there think Forrest Gump was a documentary.”

Mock him if you like, said Iain Martin in The Telegraph, but Britain should hope for a Romney win. “It is the economy which trumps everything else,” and for all Romney’s flaws, he is a believer in free markets. If we want our own economy to recover, we need the U.S. to rebound first, “and that is much more likely with the forced retirement of the statist Mr. Obama.”

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