Wednesday, September 05, 2012

And You Know That Because....

Thomas Friedman says,
I know Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on foreign policy and that its all aimed at ginning up votes: there’s some China-bashing to help in the Midwest, some Arab-bashing to win over the Jews, some Russia-bashing (our “No. 1 geopolitical foe”) to bring in the Polish vote, plus a dash of testosterone to keep the neocons off his back.
Wow. Friedman not only knows that Romney doesn't mean what he is saying, he knows why Romney is saying something other than what he truly believes. Darn shame, then, that Friedman has told us neither how he gained his special insight into what Romney believes, nor what Romney actually believes.

Now, Romney is a politician, the creature that spawned the joke, "How do you know when a politician is lying" ("His lips are moving"), so it's not entirely unfair for Friedman to listen to Romney and think, "That's a load of hooey meant to get him votes from people who don't see things as clearly as I do." I personally don't believe a word the man says on any subject over which he has reversed his position - which, to date, means his views on privilege for people of wealth, his belief in private equity investment, and that he should not have to disclose additional tax returns and... I'm not sure that there's anything else. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on the listed subjects because of his consistency and, frankly, because if you look at his positions in unvarnished terms it's hard to believe he would adopt them thinking that they would help him win an election - and with everything else he has followed the polls. I suspect he's sincere in his religion, as well, but he has spent little time talking about it.

What to make of the fact that Romney has largely avoided contradicting himself on international issues. My sense is that Romney has no interest in foreign affairs and more or less echoes his advisers on the subjects Friedman lists. If I'm wrong, Romney has terrible judgment on foreign policy. If I'm correct, Romney has terrible judgment in picking advisers. It's ugly either way. The claims he's making don't seem designed to help him win - they seem like the sort of things his advisers believe, with there being little concern about disclosure because so few people follow or care about these issues.

It may be that Romney doesn't believe what he's saying - that he and his advisers decided on a series of foreign policy lines that they believe will appeal to a certain element of the Republican base but not alienate other voters. But I see no evidence that would support Friedman's assumption that Romney does not believe what he's saying.

By the end of the column I was left with the impression that I was looking at a lot of projection and wishful thinking. "Romney say's he believes X, Y and Z, but those positions are terrible, so I refuse to accept that he believes them. I think he secretly holds my views on those matters."

I won't believe that Romney share's Friedman's views until I hear them from Romney's lips. No, that won't work - that would be a flip-flop. So let's instead say... until I see convincing evidence that Romney holds those views. For now, how about any evidence? Perhaps in Friedman's next column?

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