Yet Romney was silent on Libya, where the U.S. And its NATO allies are enforcing a no-fly zone as rebels try to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from power.
Asked after his speech what his position is on Libya, Romney refused to take questions from reporters. Instead he and his wife Ann walked away and escaped up an escalator at the Venetian hotel-casino where the event was held.
“I’ve got a lot of positions on a lot of topics, but walking down the hall probably isn’t the best place to describe all those,” Romney said as he walked away with half a dozen journalists trailing him. ~Las Vegas Review-Journal
There were several ways that Romney could have handled this that wouldn’t have made him look ridiculous. He could have invoked the need to support a President in “kinetic action”-time: “When the President commits our military forces in a time-limited, scope-limited action, it is inappropriate to play politics with an issue that has nothing to do with vital U.S. national interests.” He might have staked out the increasingly conventional Republican hawkish line that Obama’s policy creates an unacceptable stalemate in Libya. He could have followed the lead of Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann in challenging the decision to attack Libya as unconstitutional or unwise. He could have very easily linked a critique of Libya policy to his standard demagoguery about Obama’s foreign policy by saying that Obama had neglected more pressing, strategically important issues. Instead, he had nothing specific to say about it at all, and wouldn’t address questions on Libya when they were posed to him. Romney seems unable to stake out a foreign policy position until after the Republican consensus has formed, and he then adapts himself to whatever that consensus happens to be.
This does save him from the acrobatics required to maintain an anti-Obama position when Obama switches from restraint to starting a war, but it is just another reminder that Romney doesn’t hold foreign policy positions so much as he mimics those who do. There was fairly broad agreement in the GOP that the arms reduction treaty was flawed. It didn’t matter whether the criticisms were valid or not. Romney saw an opportunity to become a vociferous critic of the treaty to ingratiate himself with most of the party. Libya is a contentious issue, and the party is evidently split over which position to take, so Romney predictably cannot take one. For someone who is so fond of mocking Obama’s leadership or lack thereof, it is revealing that when Romney has to stake out a position one way or the other on a controversial question he is unable to show any leadership at all.