Mitt’s “Foreign Policy Trip” Wasn’t About Foreign Policy

So the post morterms are beginning to come in about Mitt Romney’s brisk overseas trip, and aside from calculations about whether Mitt made up for his London fiasco while in Israel and Poland, the general reaction of the chattering classes, now that the gaffe-a-thon is over, is mainly indifference, since foreign policy does not matter even a tiny bit in this election. Here’s how WaPo’s Cillizza and Blake describe GOP reactions:

The assessments of the trip, which saw Romney visit London, Israel and Poland over the past week, ranged from scathing to resigned among the Republican professional political class.

“I find this entire trip borderline lunacy,” said one senior Republican strategist granted anonymity to speak candidly. “Why on earth is he seeking to improve his foreign policy cred when there will not be a single vote cast on that subject?”

Ed Rogers, a longtime Republican operative, was more measured, but acknowledged that the trip was something short of a unqualified success.

“Romney abroad is the same as Romney at home,” said Rogers. “His performance is uneven at times, but overall, pretty good.” Added Rogers: “Let’s face it, Romney can’t win, but Obama can lose.”

In assessing the trip, I think most everybody is ignoring one of its most obvious rationales, which in turn may provide its enduring significance: it was about the Olympics, the only aspect of Mitt Romney’s biography that was–until now–a bright shining spot of uncomplicated competence and success. Sure, he added on the obligatory Israel stop (a nice sop to Sheldon Adelson, some neocon advisors, and the Christian Right) and probably chose Poland to make the whole thing look more substantial, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that what mainly motivated the whole trip was the need to get that Olympic mojo working for Mitt again now that he’s all but estopped from discussing any other aspect of his life.

It obviously didn’t work out too well, and the remaining question is whether the Olympics have joined his gubernatorial record, Bain Capital, and his personal finances on the Don’t Discuss list–and what, if anything, is less. The unnamed GOPer above who articulated the fond hope that even a cipher might be able to beat Obama this year may soon get a test of his proposition.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.