Home/Daniel Larison/Romney Remains the Candidate of Nostrums

Romney Remains the Candidate of Nostrums

National Journalreports that the Romney campaign has learned nothing from the last month:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to deliver a major speech next week with the aim of offering a “stark contrast” between his foreign-policy vision and that of the Obama administration, which has recently come under criticism for its handling of an attack in Libya that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

This is a foolish move for a campaign that is already becoming legendary for making foolish moves. Romney’s WSJ op-ed this morning was almost unanimouslycriticizedacross the political spectrum for being platitudinous and bereft of any policy ideas. Even Jennifer Rubin, Romney’s most reliable booster, didn’t try to spin how poor of an effort it was:

If Romney wrote the Journal piece himself, someone should have the nerve to sit him down and say it is unhelpful and weak. If someone else wrote it, he should be benched.

This is hardly the first time that the Romney campaign has produced an unsuccessful op-ed on foreign policy, but this one is a more remarkable failure because it comes so late in the contest. It reflects how much Romney still relies on slogans rather than policy arguments. That draws attention to the inconvenient fact that Romney’s lack of experience and preparation in this area really does hamper his ability to talk about some of the more important issues in detail. As Scoblete wrote in response to this morning’s op-ed:

This is not a ‘coherent strategy’ but a series of nostrums. They’re fine nostrums, as far it goes, but it doesn’t begin to address the actual issues the U.S. faces in the Middle East.

What is so damning about this is that the same could be said of many of Romney’s statements on foreign policy. There is no evidence of improvement or learning going on, and no sign that Romney gives these issues the attention they deserve. I’m not talking about how much time Romney chooses to spend talking about foreign policy on the campaign trail. What I mean is that Romney hasn’t familiarized himself with these issues beyond the most superficial level. He continues to rely on little more than nostrums even after six years of running for President. Romney’s previous speeches on foreign policy have been forgettable and then quickly forgotten, so it’s difficult to see what Romney could say in a new speech that isn’t simply a rehearsal of these same nostrums.

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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