Unlike Barack Obama, Romney abroad will not be admonishing his country, criticizing his president, or declaring himself a citizen of the world. Indeed, Romney should say nothing of substance, just offer effusive expressions of affection for his hosts — and avoid needless contretemps, like his inexplicably dumb and gratuitous critique of Britain’s handling of the Olympic Games. The whole point is to show appreciation for close allies, something the current president has conspicuously failed to do.
On the contrary. Obama started his presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office. Then came the State Department official who denied the very existence of a U.S.-British special relationship, saying: “There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world.” …
… In Israel, Romney will undoubtedly say nothing new. He’ll just reiterate his tough talk on Iran’s nuclear program. But I suspect he’ll let the Israelis know privately that contrary to the conventional wisdom that his hawkishness signals his readiness to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, his real intent is to signal that, unlike Obama, he is truly committed to permitting Israel to do what it needs to defend itself. This will be welcome news to a nation that has never asked anyone to fight on its behalf, just a green light to defend itself without impediments or veiled threats from its friends.
Most important, however, is to just show up. That’s 80 percent of life, Woody Allen once noted. No need to say much. Romney’s very presence will make the statement.
To the Israelis: “We understand your unique plight. If and when you do as you must, we will stand by you.” To the Poles: “You can count on the American umbrella. I will never leave you out in the cold.” And to the British: “We are grateful for your steadfast solidarity in awful places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The relationship truly is special.”
“And one more thing. Still have that bust of Churchill?”