Thursday, September 06, 2012

Friedman engages in magical thinking to make Romney reasonable.

Thomas Friedman, in his September 4th column engages in some magical thinking. Friedman explains that without the magical thinking, Mitt Romney comes off as a foreign policy extremist. Just a nice way of saying he's a kook.
Mitt Romney has ...a big stick, and he is going to use it on Day 1. Or as he put it: “If I’m president of the United States ... on Day 1, I will declare China a currency manipulator, allowing me to put tariffs on products where they are stealing American jobs unfairly.

That is really cool. Smack China on Day 1. I just wonder what happens on Day 2 when China, the biggest foreign buyer of U.S. debt securities, announces that it will not participate in the next Treasury auction, sending our interest rates soaring. That will make Day 3 really, really cool. Welcome to the Romney foreign policy, which I’d call: “George W. Bush abroad — the cartoon version.

I know Romney doesn’t believe a word he’s saying on foreign policy and that it’s all aimed at ginning up votes: there’s some China-bashing to help in the Midwest, some Arab-bashing to win over the Jews, some Russia-bashing (our “No. 1 geopolitical foe”) to bring in the Polish vote, plus a dash of testosterone to keep the neocons off his back.
Nothing Romney has said to anyone would support Friedman's theory that Romney doesn't mean what he says. Romney's views are consistent with the advisers he surrounds himself with -- neocons who worked for George W.   It's absurd for intelligent people to project onto political figures their own view of reasonableness that is contrary to everything the candidate has actually said.

Daniel Larison sees no reason to believe Romney has a secrete plan for anything:
This is a common interpretation of Romney’s foreign policy views. It relies on the belief that Romney’s stated positions are so foolish that no one would ever follow through on them. This requires us to believe that Romney will suddenly cease pandering to national security hawks once he takes office despite being surrounded by them, and that he will start off his administration by backtracking on most or all of his foreign policy commitments. Romney doesn’t seem inclined to roil his hawkish supporters on purpose, and he has so far demonstrated no hint of independent thought on these issues. If Romney has campaigned for “omni-directional belligerence,” I don’t see how we can assume that he doesn’t intend at least to try to carry it out on a few issues.

The “secret economic plan” part of this argument is new. It holds that Romney wouldn’t want to jeopardize an economic agenda that may not exist by following through on a foreign policy agenda that does. So we not only have to believe that Romney has a “secret economic plan” for which there is no evidence, but we then have to conclude that this secret economic plan will dictate his equally secret foreign policy. Given the most recent Republican track record on foreign policy, one wouldn’t think that “assume the best” is the right way to make sense of what Romney would do once in office.
(H/T to Andrew)

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