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Keeping With The Times: Mitt Romney's Cold War Mentality

Matt Pressberg |
March 30, 2012 | 4:00 a.m. PDT

Staff Columnist

GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in Boston, March 6. (BU Interactive News/Flickr)
GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney in Boston, March 6. (BU Interactive News/Flickr)
Willard Mitt Romney will not be winning Pravda Man of the Year anytime soon.

His week started with a “hot mic” incident early Monday in which President Obama revealed the huge secret to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility” after the November election. Medvedev responded in exactly the way you would want him to:

“I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”

Willard, who speaks quite recklessly for the “responsible” CEO family man role he tries to pull off, called this exchange “alarming and troubling.” This is foolishness, and Medvedev volleyed back, telling Mitt to use his brain, saying his words “smelled of Hollywood,” and “look at his watch: We are in 2012 and not the mid-1970s.”

Mitt wasn’t done yet, firing back in a foreign policy op-ed he decided to call “Bowing to the Kremlin.” We shouldn’t be surprised by the title coming from the author of "No Apology," but really, what the hell is wrong with this guy? He might as well have called it “Suck My Sickle.” 

The piece is full of unconvincing anti-Russia tough talk and the emptiest of platitudes (from the emptiest of men), but it confirms one thing: Medvedev is exactly right. Mitt Romney clearly has a cartoonish Cold War outlook on foreign policy. The crazier thing is it extends well beyond this.

It is no surprise that Romney, a man who has everything except apparently a car elevator (which he will have soon), has enjoyed strong support from high-income voters. He also has done quite well with senior citizens. This makes perfect sense. The America they are nostalgic for is the America of the Cold War, and Mitt Romney is the TV president of that era.

In his op-ed, and on the campaign trail in general, Willard has railed against Russia, Cuba and reducing the size of our military, oblivious to the fact that we are living in the year 2012, in which we fight drone battles in Yemen and Pakistan and snipe pirates in the Arabian Sea.

After winning the New Hampshire primary earlier this year, Willard said President Obama “takes his inspiration from the capitals of Europe” (not sure what that’s supposed to mean. George Washington also took inspiration from the capitals of Europe while at Valley Forge and used that to win our independence).

Reckless Mitt couldn’t stop there. He added, “I want you to remember when our White House reflected the best of who we are, not the worst of what Europe has become.” I’ll let Willard know when Silvio Berlusconi is invited for bunga-bunga parties in the Lincoln Bedroom, but until then, he’s being dramatic and unserious. He is also using talking points from a generation ago.

What is “the worst of what Europe has become” to Mitt Romney? It is a place where socialism is mainstream, and in his Cold War mindset, anything less than a total victory over any trace of socialism is simply un-American.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former International Monetary Fund chief now accused of “aggravated pimping,” would have likely been elected president of France this year as a member of the Socialist party, had he not been such a committed member of Team Breezy. This situation scares the hell out of Mitt, not only because the fact that being a socialist is hardly taboo in France, but because it involves sex with more than one woman over the course of a lifetime.

Willard and his Early Bird Special support base cannot give up the “good” fight against socialism. This is why President Obama has been saddled with this term. In the most simplistic of Cold War perspectives, the enemy is always some kind of secret commie. Also, socialism had ties to the Civil Rights Movement, and those who refuse to turn ahead the clock lazily associate the black man with socialist leanings. That's an ongoing American problem in itself (see: Trayvon Martin), but Mitt Romney has no problems using the history books of 1976 to inform policy in 2012.

Hopefully he’s just pandering to old conservatives and will tack away from it in the general election, and there is a fair chance of that considering we are dealing with the ultimate man of plastic, but Mitt’s Cold War mentality is a dangerous thing for a man so close to the presidency. We live in a multiethnic world with amorphous enemies battling us on the Internet and through mercenary terrorists and a man who wants to protect us by putting more missiles in Poland and saber-rattling Cuba.

For someone who can change his mind so easily, Romney's mentality is firmly stuck in an America that had a convenient foil in the Soviets and most everyone who made decisions was a clean-cut white man. When foils are inconvenient, a leader has to think outside the box, and most importantly, quickly adapt to a changing landscape. By declaring Russia “without question our number one geopolitical foe,” Mitt Romney has shown a general lack of understanding about this changing landscape or any kind of nuance about the world of the future that is disconcerting to all of us that plan to be around to experience it. Unfortunately, that does not include a lot of the Romney base.


Reach Staff Columnist Matt Pressberg here.



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