June 6, 2008

Mitt Romney = Spiro Agnew?

By: James Poulos

At The Plank, Michelle Cottle is in a tizzy over the prospect of Mitt Romney as John McCain´s surrogate pointman on foreign policy:

Has John McCain suffered a severe blow to the head? If not, then why on earth is he trotting out Mitt Romney as a font of foreign policy wisdom? We’re talking about a presidential wannabe who, in terms of foreign policy cred, made Obama look like Joe Biden. And no one knows this better than McCain, who back in January, devoted an entire “Mitt Romney Issue Alert” to contrasting his own seriousness in this area with the ex-guv’s complete lack thereof. Better still, the McCain press release hawking the ad included a list of Romney quotes and news clippings aiming to illustrate Mitt’s utter boobishness.

So now Team McCain is touting Mitt’s foreign policy sagacity. How adorable. Next thing you know they’ll all be out varmint hunting together.

Easy shootin´ for Michelle. Mitt has as reasonable a claim to veep contention as anyone else, but grounded in foreign policy acumen it ain´t. Romney´s declared interest in fighting jihadism by helping Muslims build the sort of infrastructure often associated with human flourishing is a nice departure from the constant paeans to ´toughness´you hear in some quarters, but alas one of those quarters is Mitt´s own. Soundbitery doth not lend itself to walking voters through the difference.

So one wonders: is Mitt headed for Spiro Agnew territory? This cuts both ways: the underrated Spiro was a pretty awesome rhetorical hatchetman. The properly rated Spiro was the deathblow to the idea of letting Greek-Americans into big-league politics. With his fate and future hanging in the balance, probably the right thing to say about Romney right now is that he needs more time in development, and getting that development in the form of flakking for John McCain — in order to console war conservatives for whom McCain´s Vaunted Toughness is no match for his Softie Domestic Agenda — seems like a pretty bad option. Even if it´s the only option!