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Romney and the “Vindication” Fantasy

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the delusions behind a new Romney campaign is that he and his supporters think foreign policy is one of his strengths, and that’s just silly. However, I didn’t understand just how delusional they were until I read this:

If Romney were president, one longtime adviser said, “There wouldn’t be an ISIS at all, and Putin would know his place in life [bold mine-DL]. Domestically, things would be in better shape.”

It would be one thing for Romney backers to think that U.S. policies would be better than they are if he were president, but it is absurd to believe that other regimes and groups around the world would behave in a dramatically different fashion or would not exist under a different administration. By what magical powers of resolve would Romney have eliminated ISIS? How exactly would he have made Putin to “know his place”? Presumably this adviser thinks this would happen because Romney’s policies would convey “strength” rather than “weakness,” but that just underscores that this adviser–like Romney–doesn’t have a clue how this would happen. These are nonsensical claims, but then that is typical for Romney and his advisers.

One of the recurring claims that has popped up in articles about Romney over the last year or so is that he showed “prescience” about Russia, but that’s also silly. In order to be prescient about something, knowledge is required. There was never any hint that Romney understood Russia or Russian behavior better than any of the other generic hawks in his party, and that means he didn’t understand very well at all. When people say that he was “prescient” about Russia, what they mean is that he took a hard anti-Russian line as a candidate, but all that this proves is that he took a reflexively hostile position towards another country. He didn’t foresee or predict anything correctly. He promised that his policy towards Russia would be thoroughly confrontational, and along the way he horribly misjudged and grossly exaggerated Russia’s role in the world (“number one geopolitical foe”). That is what he and his advisers are using as proof of his “vindication,” which reconfirms that they still don’t know what they’re talking about. Worse yet, they don’t understand that they don’t understand.

It’s no wonder that at least some of the people Romney is approaching for support are unimpressed:

That argument has not been persuasive to some major party financiers. “It is mystifying most of them,” said one highly placed GOP operative who is in contact with wealthy party donors, adding: “This doesn’t look like it was well thought out and organized.”

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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