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Romney the Decider

Jordan Bloom files a depressing report from the convention:

I asked several delegates how they felt about Romney’s foreign policy, which in light of proposed increases in defense spending and a Bush-era foreign policy team, is the most troubling aspect of his candidacy. Most of them supported the former and were completely unaware of the latter [bold mine-DL].

“I can’t say I’m that familiar with who he has on his foreign policy team, but I think he’s the kind of man that is gonna get the best people available to get the job done,” said Philip Smith, a delegate from Grand Rapids, Michigan. “The president doesn’t have to know everything, he just needs to know those who do.”

For Smith, Romney’s decision-making acumen, plus his moral fiber, was enough to assuage any doubts about his potential to embroil the United States in another war in the Middle East …

It’s true that the president doesn’t need to know everything. It would be reassuring if Romney could demonstrate that he knew something about international affairs that wasn’t just recycled propaganda, or if he didn’t make a habit of “knowing” things that weren’t true. This is not to pick on Mr. Smith, but how can he be sure that Romney will get “the best people available” when the advisers Romney has already selected are unknown to him? Wouldn’t his selection of advisers indicate what sort of people Romney considers to be the best, and wouldn’t it make a significant difference if those people were associated with one of the worst foreign policy records in modern times?

I have to admit that I am puzzled by these other claims. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Romney possesses both “decision-making acumen” and “moral fiber.” Neither of these necessarily means that he wouldn’t embroil the U.S. in another war. People with a certain kind of strong moral convictions are sometimes susceptible to moralizing crusading, and they can also be susceptible to rationalizing immoral acts if they are done for “the greater good.” Someone can have a great facility for making decisions, but the quality of those decisions depends on his knowledge, discernment, and prudence. If we review Romney’s policy statements so far, is there much evidence of any of the latter? Unfortunately, no, there isn’t. Romney might be very good at making decisions, but they would likely be ill-informed decisions.

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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