It appears that Republican Mitt Romney can't open his mouth on any topic without triggering a flood of factchecks. Yesterday, Romney gave what was billed by his campaign as a major foreign policy speech. Today, the reviews are in, and not surprisingly, we can see that Romney's inability to stick with the facts spans the issue spectrum.
First up, The New York Times tears into Romney's foreign policy speech:
Mitt Romney mounted a big foreign policy display on a flag-draped stage at the Virginia Military Institute on Monday, serving up a lot of tough-sounding sound bites and hawkish bumper stickers, some of them even bumping up somewhere close to the truth, to give the appearance that he would be stronger and more forceful on international affairs than President Obama.Another day, another AP factcheck of Mitt Romney's lies, this time on the foreign policy front:
He seems to consider himself, ludicrously, a leader similar to the likes of Harry Truman and George Marshall, and, at one point, he obliquely questioned Mr. Obama’s patriotism. The hope seems to be that big propaganda, said loudly and often, will drown out Mr. Obama’s respectable record in world affairs, make Americans believe Mr. Romney would be the better leader and cover up the fact that there is mostly just hot air behind his pronouncements.
Mr. Romney’s stated policies in Monday’s speech, just as they have been in the past, are either pretty much like Mr. Obama’s or, when there are hints of differences, would pull the United States in wrong and even dangerous directions. His analysis of the roots of various international crises is either naïve or deliberately misleading.
Mitt Romney solely blamed President Barack Obama on Monday for potential defense cuts that Republicans in Congress worked out with the White House and Democrats and left the misimpression that Obama has ignored free trade initiatives.More factchecking from Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post:
We will leave analysis of the GOP presidential nominee’s major foreign-policy address to the pundits, though we were pleased to see that he did not repeat his frequent claim that Obama “apologized” for America — a phrase we and other fact-checkers have long debunked. Still, we were interested in his assertion about the size of the Navy. Is the Navy really in the worst shape it has been in 96 years? [...]Madeline Albright's take:
The Romney campaign noted that now-retired Adm. Gary Roughead, when chief of naval operations, also made this 1916 comparison in a 2010 speech. “No one is disputing that today’s ships are more capable than their 1916 predecessors, but the reality that you can only have one ship in one place at any one time hasn’t changed,” a Romney spokesman said. “And today’s Navy is tasked with being in more places given America’s expanded international interests compared to 1916.”
This is a nonsense fact. In his counting of ships, Romney equates gunboats with aircraft carriers and torpedo boats with nuclear-powered submarines. For such an important speech, one would think the candidate would resolve to use the most relevant facts possible.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Monday dismissed Mitt Romney’s foreign policy as “full of platitudes” and light on specifics in the wake of the Republican presidential nominee’s latest address on the subject.Gopal Ratnam at Bloomberg:
In a conference call with reporters, Albright said she came away from his speech “confused” on a number of issues, including whether Romney would have intervened to help end the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Kadafi and if he would now arm the rebels in Syria.
“He has changed his mind on a number of issues,” said Albright, a veteran of the Clinton administration. Romney was first “for intervention” and is “now against,” she said, and she is “unclear where he is on Syria.”
Mitt Romney’s speech on foreign policy did more to highlight his similarities with President Barack Obama than to draw sharp distinctions over handling global affairs. [...]Brian Montopoli at CBS News:
“I know the President hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy,” Romney told cadets and military officials in Lexington, Virginia, during his fifth visit in four weeks to the politically competitive state.
Still, Romney offered few details of his own approach, and in his attempt to appeal to a broader base of American voters, he echoed several policies already being pursued by Obama, said Charles Kupchan, a U.S. foreign policy specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Romney, who lacks foreign policy experience, offered what was billed as a major foreign policy speech on Monday. With the exception of his support for arming Syrian rebels and a vow to "restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf," he largely stuck to rhetorical attacks instead of drawing clear distinctions between himself and the president.Tom Engelhardt at The Los Angeles Times:
To get a better understanding of what a President Romney would do on the world stage, it makes sense to look at his foreign policy advisers. (Some have been added since that list was put together last year.) Three of them held a conference call on Sunday, including longtime GOP foreign policy hand Richard Williamson, who Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, an ally of the Romney campaign, described as "the key foreign policy voice for the campaign." Yet as he again made clear on the conference call, Williamson is no more willing than his boss to get into specifics. In April, he compared Mr. Obama to Jimmy Carter and said the president's North Korea policy reflected "naivete and weakness "; last month, he said Romney would have averted the Libya and Egypt attacks by having been "more active [in the region] trying to work with civil society, with reformer movements, so we would be partners in this evolution, not running behind."
Other prominent figures on the Romney foreign policy team include Jim Talent, Liz Cheney, Mitchell Reiss, Dan Senor, Kerry Healey, Alex Wong, Eliot Cohen, Eric Edelman, Robert Kagan, Robert Zoellick and John Bolton. The last two - Zoellick and Bolton - were portrayed by the New York Times Monday as heading two competing factions within the campaign. Bolton is widely considered a staunch neoconservative (though he doesn't like the term) who criticized American support for the Arab Spring; the more moderate Zoellick sees greater limits on America's ability to dictate conditions abroad. The story paints the two men as among the competitors in shaping Romney's evolving foreign policy views, with one adviser noting that Romney has "left himself a lot of wiggle room" in terms of what he would do as president.
Even as military power has proved itself a bust again and again, policymakers have come to rely ever more completely on a military-first response to global problems, operating on some kind of militarized autopilot. [...]
One could postulate explanations for why our policymakers, military and civilian, continue in such a repetitive and self-destructive vein. Yes, there is the military-industrial complex to be fed. Yes, we are interested in the control of crucial resources, especially energy, and so on.
But it's probably more reasonable to say that a deeply militarized mind-set and the global maneuvers that go with it are by now just a way of life in a Washington eternally "at war." Military actions have become the tics of an overwrought great power with the equivalent of Tourette's syndrome. They happen because they can't help but happen, because they are engraved in the policy DNA of our national security complex. In other words, our leaders can't help themselves.