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Romney and the “Vindication” Fantasy

As I mentioned yesterday [1], 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 [2]:

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 [3] 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 [4]:

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.”

22 Comments (Open | Close)

22 Comments To "Romney and the “Vindication” Fantasy"

#1 Comment By Uncle Billy On January 14, 2015 @ 9:40 am

Romney, like most CEO’s, surrounds himself with yes-men who keep telling him how brilliant he is. Romney is indeed a smart guy, Harvard Business School and Law, Corporate CEO, Mass. Governor, but he does not know everything, and has very little experience in foreign affairs.

Any idea that Putin and other foreign leaders would somehow have knuckled under had Romney been in the White House is nonsense. Romney may be a smart guy, but he is not the messiah.

#2 Comment By Charlieford On January 14, 2015 @ 9:54 am

If Romney were so smart, would he have assumed as blithely as he did that he would win in 2012? When every data-point had been pointing in the other direction? Does a smart guy delude himself so entirely into believing the world is his personal oyster that he doesn’t even bother to sketch out a concession speech on the off-chance the cosmos fails to conform to his expectations?

I’m thinking Romney is closer to “warty bliggens, the toad” than anything else:


#3 Comment By collin On January 14, 2015 @ 10:02 am

I think the Merkel/Obama approach of letting the market put ‘Putin in his place’ will long term be more effective. The limited sanctions did not stop Putin’s aggression but it put some fear in to foreign and, more importantly, domestic investors. The Russian economy was headed for a recession in 2014 but not a financial crisis.

#4 Comment By Matthew Cooley On January 14, 2015 @ 10:12 am

The chance that our next President is *signficantly* more hawkish than Obama has to be near 99%.

What will President Romney or President Clinton (or God forbid, President Christie) do with Obama’s drone force? Are there even enough countries out there to bomb?

#5 Comment By EngineerScotty On January 14, 2015 @ 11:08 am

Walk loudly, and swing a big d**k.

#6 Comment By arrScott On January 14, 2015 @ 11:12 am

“Putin would know his place.” This requires elaboration. How? Would President Romney have threatened an actual war against Russia over any of Moscow’s various aggressions and adventures in Ukraine? If so, Putin would most likely have called his bluff, and we’d have had to back down, which would have preempted any EU anti-Russian action and handed Moscow effective control over all of Ukraine. Or we’d have actually started a shooting war with Russia. Which, it’s worth remembering, has a large nuclear arsenal capable of striking any American city with less than fifteen minutes’ warning to us. But even short of a nuclear exchange, at the very least we’d have been looking at, for example, an American-enforced no-fly zone and/or land/sea quarantine along the Ukraine-Russia border and the Black Sea. Which means exposing American pilots and ships to attack by Russian aircraft, naval assets, and missiles, and that could easily have become very bloody for our troops very quickly. (Has the Romney team seriously never read Tom Clancy or literally any other writer of popular military thrillers? They pretty much all depict a regional American military operation escalating into potential global catastrophe after Russian counterattack.)

If not a war threat, then all Romney means is that he’d have used “tougher” rhetoric than Obama, but not backed up by any actual actions. “Russia must go,” President Romney would have pronounced on Day One, and then he’d have been in a classic “credibility” trap – Russia would not have gone, and so the neocon establishment would howl about how American credibility generally was being shattered by “inaction” following the president’s implicit promise to do something to eject Russia from Ukraine. Which brings us back to the question of the threat of military action above.

So either Romney means that he’d have taken the United States to war with Russia over Crimea, or he means that he’d have performed a loud-talk-no-stick bluff that Putin would have called. And, in calling the bluff, Putin would have effectively won the whole game in Ukraine, including undermining American interests in Europe generally. Putin would in that case know his place, all right – his place being standing upright with his foot on President Romney’s neck. As opposed to now, when Putin is at least beginning to know his place as a guy who’s lucky to get an appointment with Nicolas Maduro and other minor regional leaders.

#7 Comment By balconesfault On January 14, 2015 @ 1:36 pm

Heard on NPR yesterday estimates that Putin is worth about 40 billion dollars.

Maybe he and Romney would have more basis for communication.

#8 Comment By HyperIon On January 14, 2015 @ 1:54 pm

DL: However, I didn’t understand just how delusional they were until I read this…

This is quite an admission considering all the scathing things you have written about Romney and his followers in the past.

Remember: Peak Wingnut is a lie.
Their delusions are unbounded!

#9 Comment By Acilius On January 14, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

Mr Romney has a fine academic background, he amassed a great deal of money as a corporate raider, he was in charge of arranging the corporate financing for the Salt Lake Olympics, the governorship of Massachusetts once fell into his lap when the Democrats in that state were severely divided, and the Republican Party, seeing that it was unlikely to defeat Barack Obama for reelection in 2012, chose him as the presidential nominee least likely to harm the party’s brand in subsequent elections. Considering that he is George Romney’s son, that’s a pretty unimpressive resume. It’s no wonder he can’t stop running for president; unless he becomes the first Mormon in the White House, what hope is there that he will be remembered at all?

#10 Comment By Ludovic On January 14, 2015 @ 2:13 pm

Of course he wasn’t “prophetic,” he was privy to the plans–no just kidding–he could see the trends principally because he was analyzing the antagonizing and destabilizing policies of his own government(ever the case with a world hegemon) and the likely repercussions they might have in places such as Russia, china, the Middle East, then disingenuously transposing consequences for causes and blaming the antagonizing on the very countries being antagonized by and reacting to the U.S.

#11 Comment By CharleyCarp On January 14, 2015 @ 3:16 pm

It’s like how Mitch McConnell completely stopped the ebola epidemic on November 5, 2014. You know how he did it? Republican Resolve.

#12 Comment By KateLE On January 14, 2015 @ 5:56 pm

To be fair, he does not actually elaborate on just what he envisions Putin’s place to be. It could be Emperor of Ukraine, for all we know.

#13 Comment By Andrew Lazarus On January 14, 2015 @ 6:08 pm

Romney would have intimidated Putin by re-invading Grenada.

#14 Comment By Emilio On January 14, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

Actually he’s right about ISIS, those guys would still be a loosely organized guerrilla force killing twenty American soldiers a week in Iraq.

#15 Comment By Ken_L On January 14, 2015 @ 9:05 pm

It’s of a piece with McCain’s claim that he would fix Iraq by sitting the Muslims down and telling them to cut out their nonsense, or Christie’s belief that Putin wouldn’t be disrespecting the USA if HE were president. After all if you’re the world’s policeman, you’re entitled to expect respect from the crims.

#16 Comment By Cudda Binna Contenda On January 14, 2015 @ 9:38 pm

“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.”

I doubt it. But going by the above he would definitely have been surrounded by advisors making unprovable statements about life in alternate universes. Not exactly what the country needed at the time. Or now.

#17 Comment By Avattoir On January 14, 2015 @ 11:54 pm

Everything old
Is new again …


Welcome, Herman the Surgeon!

#18 Comment By BD On January 15, 2015 @ 7:17 am

This is reminiscent of the old Onion article: “Sinatra to Kruschev–‘Knock it off, or I’ll Knock it off For You'”. All it takes is a tough guy, and you don’t want to make him mad!

#19 Comment By Goodbye Lenin On January 15, 2015 @ 8:16 am

“he showed “prescience” about Russia”

It was the exact reverse of prescience: he thought he remembered something from 1980.

#20 Comment By collin On January 15, 2015 @ 8:43 am


I am on record for 2015 Ben Carson is a front runner for a short time period.

#21 Comment By EliteCommInc. On January 16, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

“Everything old
Is new again …”

And All That Jazz.

#22 Comment By johnallen919 On January 19, 2015 @ 9:28 am

I guess everyone left of Cheney is vindicated with the litany of poor Dubya decisions that continue to affect the US to THIS DAY!