A fundraiser was closed to the press, presumably to facilitate the candidate’s crass pandering, and perhaps to fend off a photo op with the Jabba the Hut of the campaign wars, casino plutocrat and Super Pac-Man Sheldon Adelson. Finally, the Romney strategists allowed a few reporters to attend, less they appear fearful that their candidate might blurt out another on-the-record political solecism.
A chastened Romney mostly stayed on course by bloviating ritual fealty of Israeli security, and denouncing “containment” of Iran as a “delusion.” (Of course, Barack Obama hasn’t ruled out force either, but that doesn’t matter to Romney.) The Republican nominee-to-be added the pretty standard, wholly pre-presidential endorsement of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He also skirted but didn’t transgress the off-limits line against criticizing American foreign policy abroad; his coded jibes at the president, never mentioned by name, were just veiled enough.
Romney was programmed to be gaffe-free as he made a political pilgrimage to the Holy Land in search of the holy grail of Jewish votes back home. The programming was almost successful– and it was certainly a direct result of his previous stop on a not-so-grand journey. In Israel, Mitt was supposed to act like a mutt brought to heel after he earned the worst welcome in London since King Richard II was deposed following an ill-timed and inconclusive invasion of Ireland. Romney was in the stadium at the opening ceremony of the 30th Olympiad, sitting in a relative and blessed anonymity, a forced smile on his face. It had been a painful few days as he auditioned on the world stage for the most powerful job in the world.
Before he left for London, Romney’s campaign had decided that he shouldn’t be filmed watching his wife’s well-heeled dancing horse compete in the Dressage competition. The best laid plans: Instead it was Mitt himself who came up lame, hobbled and lacerated by his own tripping tongue.
How could any politician with any modicum of sagacity—let alone someone who’s one election away from the Oval Office—venture abroad and question whether his host country was “ready” for the Olympics? Romney came across as simultaneously a know-nothing and a smug know-it-all—at least about the Olympic Games, which he seems to think he owns and which he has regularly treated like one of those enterprises taken over by Bain ever since he took over the 2002 Winter Games.