There is a fantastic, hilarious, thigh-slapping irony in Mitt Romney's foreign tour. It's supposed to be about reaffirming America's traditional relationships with the traditional allies. It was going to be a meeting of conservative minds between Cameron and Romney. It was going to revive the old aura of the Atlantic alliance – the moment when the Queen's band played the Star Spangled Banner after 9/11 and the US out-pouring of support on 7/7. And, of course, it has turned into a riotously public demonstration of the complete opposite.
Here's a response to Romney's comments that the Olympics organization was "disconcerting" and that the Brits might not be up for the celebration from the Tory Daily Telegraph:
Mitt Romney is perhaps the only politician who could start a trip that was supposed to be a charm offensive by being utterly devoid of charm and mildly offensive… His comments to NBC, particularly his doubts about Britons’ ability to celebrate the games, showed how poorly he understands the land of his forefathers.
If he possessed a smidgeon of insight into the British psyche he would have known that despite all the pre-match whingeing and the carping, on the night we will celebrate the games with all the gusto and fervour they deserve. We moan, and then we smile; that is just our way.
The headline of the piece? "If Mitt Romney doesn’t like us, we shouldn’t care." And remember this is from the Toriest of Tory papers. Moving a bust of Churchill really doesn't come close. Cameron has already put out a statement rebutting Romney's public pissing on the Brits' readiness and eagerness for the Games. Then this all-too-familiar flip-flop:
Then… wait for it:
Mr Romney later made a second gaffe when he referred to Mr Miliband as "Mr Leader". “Like you Mr Leader I look forward to our conversations this morning and I have had a number of conversations with leaders both present and past and recognise of course the unique relationship that exists between our nations,” he said.
The Brits will have enormous fun with that turn of phrase. Meanwhile, Cameron has had to spend the day pushing back against Romney's insinuation:
"In terms of people coming together, the torch relay demonstrated that this is not a London Games, this is not an England Games but this is a United Kingdom Games. We'll show the world we've not only come together as a United Kingdom but are extremely good at welcoming people from across the world." Cameron said he was going to make this point to Romney when he met him later on Thursday.
But my favorite part:
"Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
Cameron does not have to win Utah, I guess. Then:
The Guardian has some fun after the Cameron-Romney meeting:
Lacking a transcript of the private meeting between the American candidate and the British leader, we rely on the candidate's remarks after the meeting to relay to you that in the picture below Mitt Romney is telling David Cameron that while prospects for peace in the Middle East appear slim, they frankly have a better chance of pulling it off than London does of hosting an Olympics not historically disastrous, and so his, Romney's, recommendation would be that Cameron get MI6 involved, which if Cameron wants he can tell the world press assembled right outside about after they're through. PS: Nice Europe.
All in all: hilarious so far. But one serious point: the Brits bitch and moan about everything all the time. They are characterologically piss-takers and doom-mongers, fearing (and predicting) national embarrassment always around the corner. But if a non-Brit joins in the doom chorus, the ranks will close, and the anger will be intense. They expect that kind of sneer from the French, not from an American. And now the Brits have a real asshole to prove wrong: the guy who's running to be president of the US.