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The public message vs. the private message

<p>Mitt Romney, speaking in Virginia today, on the Middle East;"I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle
Romney and his teleprompter in Jerusalem.
Romney and his teleprompter in Jerusalem.

Mitt Romney, speaking in Virginia today, on the Middle East;

"I know the president hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy."

Mitt Romney, speaking to donors in Boca in May, on the Middle East:

"[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."

Hmm. It's almost as if what Romney says in private, when he thinks the public won't hear him, differs from what he says in public.

Indeed, towards the end of today's speech, Romney went on to say, "I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the president has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new president will bring the chance to begin anew."

Now, as a substantive matter, the notion that "a new president" who has no experience in or working understanding of foreign affairs will suddenly transform the peace process is pretty silly, but there's another, more obvious problem.

We know Romney doesn't mean what he's saying. We know this, of course, because Romney's said so.

The "47 percent" video didn't leave any ambiguities in this area. The Republican spoke of "the Palestinians" as a united bloc of one mindset, arguing, "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 then added he intends to show no leadership in this area at all, "hoping" -- remember, "hope is not a strategy" -- that someone other than the United States will somehow take the lead. If elected, "recommit America" to anything, except for letting others worry about the dispute after he "kicks the ball down the field."