There’s been a lot of talk about political gaffes this election season and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is bearing the brunt of the criticism. During his international tour last week, he took a number of hits as he dipped into the sometimes turbulent waters of diplomacy as a viable contender in the upcoming race to beat President Obama. But are his remarks truly gaffes, or just truths that are best left unspoken?
During Obama’s pre-election overseas tour four years ago, he was greeted by crowds of adoring admirers who catapulted him into the realm of international rock star. They appeared to cling to his every word as he attempted to forecast a new era of openness and diplomacy under his administration.
But Romney hasn’t been welcomed with the same warmth as his opponent. Part of the reason is linked to statements he’s made that some have deemed to be gaffes.
First, there was Romney’s statement about the Olympics which sent shockwaves throughout Europe. Romney reportedly said in passing that he believed that London may not have been ready to host the Olympics from a security standpoint.
The British press took immediate offense, deeming Romney to be: “Mitt the Twit.” British Prime Minister David Cameron took a swipe at Romney’s prior leadership during the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, telling reporters that it was far more difficult to organize the Olympics in a world capital than in what he called, “the middle of nowhere.”
Romney also came under attack after infuriating critics when he attributed the economic disparity between Israel and Palestine to differences in “culture.” They wrote off the comments as insensitive and offensive.
There are plenty of questions surrounding whether his remarks were actually gaffes, or simply misguided statements. The British media had been debating Great Britain’s Olympic readiness for weeks before Romney’s statements. And cultural differences between the Israelis and Palestinians are both widely known and agreed upon even by the Israelis and the Palestinians.
And while Romney may have provided his opponents with plenty of ammunition to question his diplomatic readiness, I can’t say that there are lots of people who are questioning the truthfulness of his statements. Most people are not saying that his statements aren’t true, just ill-advised, mistimed and in poor taste.
So Gov. Romney may have made some mistakes when it comes to knowing what’s appropriate to say on the international stage, but the dust-up highlights the fact that sometimes telling the truth at the wrong time is the biggest mistake a politician can make.
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