A ‘kick-the-ball-down-the-field’ style of leadership

Updated
 
A 'kick-the-ball-down-the-field' style of leadership
A 'kick-the-ball-down-the-field' style of leadership

On the show last night, Mother Jones’ David Corn told Rachel yesterday’s revelations from the secretly-recorded Mitt Romney fundraiser weren’t the end of the story. This morning, it was time for the second shoe to drop.

At the private fundraiser held May 17 [Romney] discussed various foreign policy positions, sharing views that he does not express in public, including his belief that peace in the Middle East is not possible and a Palestinian state is not feasible.

Romney spoke of “the Palestinians” as a united bloc of one mindset, and he said: “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.”

Romney was indicating he did not believe in the peace process and, as president, would aim to postpone significant action: “[S]o what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem … and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

For over a year, President Obama’s critics have been apoplectic about a phrase the president never used: “leading from behind.” In some cases, a foreign policy strategy based on the United States playing a more subtle leadership role makes perfect sense, but the phrase has nevertheless been used to condemn the administration’s foreign policy.

But while Obama didn’t actually use the phrase, here we have Romney describing his approach to the Middle East peace process as one in which he intends “kick the ball down the field and hope” that someone else figures something out. This isn’t leadership, it’s the abdication of leadership. If Romney is hung up on the notion of signaling “weakness,” or failing to project “resolve,” he need look no further than his own remarks.

The former governor, who has no experience in foreign policy, doesn’t seem to know or care about the U.S. role in trying to broker negotiations. If elected, he simply intends to let others worry about it.

In July, Romney argued, “I believe in a two-state solution.” What he apparently neglected to mention is that he doesn’t actually intend to do any work towards reaching his stated goal.

Postscript: In the same Corn piece, Romney imagines Iran developing a nuclear program, giving “a little fissile material to Hezbollah,” and then having the United States “blackmailed by Iran” with the threat of a dirty bomb.

It’s worth noting that Romney’s confused – a dirty bomb is not dependent on a nuclear weapons program. As Corn reported, “Such a bomb can be produced with, say, radioactive medical waste. If Iran’s nuclear program poses a threat, it is not because this project will yield a dirty bomb.”

Foreign Policy, Mitt Romney and Iran

A 'kick-the-ball-down-the-field' style of leadership

Updated