Call me crazy, but I think we all want to hear some specifics from Mitt Romney on foreign policy. On anything really, but let’s take what we can get. And this morning as I opened my digital morning paper, I thought today would be that long-awaited day. Mitt Romney wrote in his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that there were three sinews to American foreign policy that we need to restore: “our economic strength, our military strength, and the strength of our values.” A number followed by words that filled in the blanks to the question, what are the three sinews? He outlined that this article would discuss strategy in the Middle East, specifically regarding Iran. He even said that to deal with these problems we would need a “new strategy toward the Middle East.” A promising start.
It didn’t last. When Romney began with his “first step,” he ended with a diatribe against the past four years of Obama’s foreign policy and a list of the President’s failures in the Middle East. Romney never even got past Step One: “understand how we got here.” Where was the previously promised ”new strategy”? I appreciate the need to knock down what is already in place, the want to prove that what we have is broken and needs to be fixed, but I also want to know what the nuts and bolts are for the plan to fix it. Just like you wouldn’t let a surgeon open your chest and do heart surgery simply because they say ‘it’s broken,’ Americans expect, and deserve, some level of specificity. Because if you can’t summarize it, should we just trust that the plan is there and let the doctors put us under?
With such a short time to go to the election, and poll numbers showing that what the Romney campaign is doing so far isn’t working, I think zeroing in on the Romney nuts and bolts, the nitty-gritty specifics, could be the answer. Don’t just say, “we need to apply a coherent strategy of supporting our partners in the Middle East,” or “restore our credibility with Iran.” Please, do us all a favor, and feel free to “get a little wonky” on us. We want the wonk and we’re open to getting a little more specific!
It’s this pattern of minimal specifics and lack of willingness to break down the plan for the public that made me raise my eyebrows when The Cycle discussed Romney’s scheduled address on foreign policy later this week. These same reasons caused me to nod along in agreement with host Steve Kornacki when he stated, “Romney has nothing to say on foreign policy.” Nothing new, anyway. So you think the Obama administration botched the way they presented the Benghazi attacks in Libya to the public? Conservatives from Reince Priebus to John McCain have already taken that and run with it. If there’s something else to say then, by all means, say it. But if this WSJ op-ed was any indication, Kornacki’s statement is pretty dead on.