This post has been updated.
Charles Krauthammer’s column today, combined with his appearance on Fox News last night, exposes a wormhole in the news-time continuum. Print newspaper pages must be laid out ahead of time and printed hours before they land on doorsteps, so although Krauthammer had some very good, very timely advice for Mitt Romney in today’s Post, Romney didn’t get it until he had retroactively failed to heed it. Had things worked out differently, Romney might have had an opportunity to consider Le Grand Charles’s in-paper caution: Say nothing of substance on your three-country tour. These are nations with reason to be miffed at President Obama. All you have to do is look handsome and, above all, friendly!
But alas, Romney said some unfriendly sounding things, and British pols, and British press, were all too eager to jump all over him.
Meanwhile, by the time this morning’s newspapers were being read, Krauthammer had found a more instantaneous medium — last night’s TV — where he had time to expound much more on Romney’s gaffe. So by this morning, many folks had seen the video in which Krauthammer hammers Romney into the ground for his misstep. The newspaper column, which mentions the gaffe but doesn’t dwell on it, seemed comparatively tame.
Money quote, from Krauthammer on TV: “All Romney has to do, say nothing. It’s like a guy in the 100-meter dash. All he has to do is to finish, he doesn’t have to win. And instead, he tackles the guy in the lane next to him and ends up disqualified. I don’t get it.”
Many of the commenters agreed with Krauthammer, but here are some who interpreted the whole flub differently:
sanfran6003 says at least Romney is getting his footing before becoming President:
CK is quite right that for this Romney trip, the itinerary is the message. Romney got off on the wrong foot and if he has to absorb painful lessons, it’s good that it happens before the election. We have experienced 3-1/2 years of a president who had to learn painful lessons while being president. Meanwhile, Romney should be working to offer specifics on what a Romney presidency will be about. His positioning himself as the anti-Obama will not be good enough to get him the job.
PoliticalPaige.net thinks the Brits are making a bad mistake in making fun of Romney’s remarks:
The nearly hysterical outcry in the British press over Olympic remarks is a tempest in a teapot if ever I’ve seen one. David Cameron’s overreaction just added fuel to this absurd little scrap. Emotions are running high and British pride is justifiably on display, but please ... keep some perspective. Would you prefer to keep a US president that considers the entire history of the United Kingdom one of bloody conquest, who insulted the Queen, insulted Churchill, has absolutely no shred of respect or value for our common heritage and your noble and steadfast support of the United States? To borrow an American pop culture phrase, if you think you are ‘disrespected’ by a simple comment on the Olympics, believe me, you are far, far more disrespected by the current president every time he opens his mouth.
And kevrobb’s takeaway is that the British government doesn’t expect to have to negotiate with President Romney:
Here’s the interesting thing not being picked up on by US media: Both Cameron and London’s Conservative mayor Boris Johnson humiliated Mitt Romney in public. Several other govt ministers made public comments knocking him and everyone he met in Whitehall was telling journalists how unimpressed they were. Hang on though, if Mitt Romney might be president, isn’t that terribly risky? Why make an enemy of a man who might hold such power?
That’s just it, they wouldn’t dare. So they must have decided that Romney isn’t going to be President. They took advice from the Foreign Office, from the intelligence services, from the Washington embassy, from the best analysts of the Conservative party, from their friends in the Republican party, from Rupert Murdoch himself ... and they concluded that Mitt Romney is so certain to lose that it’s safe to publicly humiliate him — indeed not just safe but profitable, in order to win credit with the next US president, Barack Obama.
Because things are neatly laid out in the universe, PostScript herself located a wormhole while writing this post. After PS was written, but before we Enter-buttoned it online, the White House wrote a blog post claiming that one of Krauthammer’s contentions — that Obama offended the Brits by returning a bust of Churchill — was wrong (the bust is still in the White House). Later, ABC News reported that there were actually two Churchill busts. This completely discombobulates us. Perhaps we will go on TV to clear things up.