Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
After being run out of Great Britain by the Fleet Street media for insulting everyone in the country, Willard "Mittens" Romney made a brief layover in Switzerland to visit his money before flying on to Israel.
Keep in mind that Romney's visit to Israel really had little to do with Israel. This was for consumption by the FAUX News Fraudcasting audience back home who are the "end times" Dominionists and Christian Reconstructionists whose interest in Israel only goes so deep as bringing about Armageddon -- the Dome of the Rock (Islam) that currently occupies the Temple Mount would have to be destroyed and replaced by the Third Temple (Jewish) on the Temple Mount in this prophesy -- and only select Christians would be raptured into heaven; the Jews all perish in hell, of course. You know how it is. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Romney was also in Israel for a campaign fundraiser hosted by his billionaire Super PAC benefactor, Sheldon Adelson. Steve Benen reports, Still shambling, from London to Jerusalem:
Perhaps the Republican presidential hopeful would have more luck in Israel? Not really.
Initially, Romney's team said it would bar U.S. reporters from covering an Israeli fundraiser, but in the face of criticism, the campaign reversed course. Worse, Romney's top foreign policy aide, Dan Senor, suggested to reporters that Romney is prepared to support a unilateral Israeli military strike on Iran, and the campaign spent the next few hours scrambling, trying to carefully "clarify" Senor's comments, without actually rejecting his underlying point.
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Perhaps the most notable embarrassment came shortly before Romney arrived. The Republican has spent months boasting about his close, personal friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, only to have Vanity Fair publish this item over the weekend:
"I remember him for sure, but I don't think we had any particular connections," [Netanyahu] tells me. "I knew him and he knew me, I suppose."
Making matters slightly worse, Romney scheduled a meeting with the leaders of Israel's Labor Party, only to make a "last-minute cancellation."
Well did Romney at least get out of the country without offending someone this time? What do you think.
At his Jerusalem fundraiser last night, for example, the Republican candidate spent quite a bit of time praising the Israeli health care system, which covers more of the nation's population than we do, while spending less as a percentage of GDP. Romney may not have thought this one through -- Israel has a socialized system and a national mandate. The kind of health care policy he was praising in Israel is the same kind of policy he routinely condemns.
But that's not all he said at the fundraiser.
"Culture makes all the difference," Mr. Romney said. "And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things."
"As you come here and you see the G.D.P. per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the G.D.P. per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," he said.
There's quite a bit wrong with this. For one thing, Romney's figures are inaccurate. For another, it's curious to hear him praise Israel's GDP, given that Israel has a top marginal income tax rate of 48% on income over $125,000. Isn't this the sort of economic policy that offends Romney to the core?
But even if we put those details aside, the argument Romney presented -- Israel has the superior "culture," which is why Palestinians have less money -- is simply offensive on its face.
It clearly displays a degree of ignorance about "the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority," where economic activities are restricted and opportunities to create a robust GDP are limited. But also note the underlying elitism -- inferior cultures, Romney seemed to argue, are the ones with lower per capita GDP.
[One Israeli professor pointed out that Romney's remark could be seen as playing into anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews and money.
It's true that Israel has logged tremendous achievements, said Abraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Center outside of Tel Aviv. But "you can understand this remark in several ways," he added. "You can say it's anti-Semitic. `Jews and money.'" - h/t Daily Kos]
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Pressed for an explanation, the Romney campaign said the former governor had been taken out of context (there's a lot of that going around). As campaign aides explained it, after mentioning the per capita GDP of Israel and Palestine, Romney also said, "And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States."
Hmm. So to downplay the ugliness of the underlying argument, the Romney camp wants reporters to know he also believes Chile has a superior culture to Ecuador, and Mexicans are inferior, too, by virtue of the size of their economy.
I'm beginning to think Romney isn't good at being a presidential candidate.
As Benen concluded in his earlier post:
[Fears] that Romney was not quite ready to sit at the big kids' table has been confirmed, and his foreign excursion is increasingly looking like a fiasco. Jamelle Bouie noted yesterday, "If Mitt Romney were a Democrat, his behavior on this foreign trip would all but disqualify him from the presidency."
The question at this point is whether the former one-term governor, the least experienced major-party nominee in more than 70 years, who apparently can't even make brief foreign visits to allies without embarrassing himself, is actually prepared to lead.