A Very Unspecial Relationship

Face facts, all you supporters of America’s Republican Party. Your chosen Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is a bit of a weirdo. Not bad, not mad, but not the finished product either. He says corporations are people, likes Nascar but only because he is friends with Nascar team owners, claims to be severely conservative (whatever that means), told the SEC he was CEO of a business for three years after he stopped being CEO, and he strapped the family dog to the roof of his car. Simpletons might distrust Romney because of his Mormon faith, but most reasonable people would be worried about his judgement because of what he says and does. Charles Krauthammer, a right-wing pundit and no fan of Obama, is routinely bemused by Romney. As Krauthammer points out, Romney clearly wants to be President of the USA, but he makes no effort to be likeable. Romney has not closed his Swiss bank account, nor withdrawn his horse from the extraordinarily elitist Olympic sport of dressage (a.k.a. the one where you teach expensive horses how to dance). I mean, it is nice to have a Swiss bank account, and it would be nice to win an Olympic medal for dressage, but not so nice that you want to put off ordinary American blue collar voters and jeopardize your chances of being ‘leader of the free world’. I jest, of course. Nobody really believes that the President of the USA is the leader of the free world. The rest of the free world does not vote for the US President, so why would they follow his lead? So, all things considered, there is only one reason for Brits to get upset when Mitt Romney comes to town and starts insinuating that the London 2012 Olympics would have been much better if only Mitt Romney had been in charge. And that reason is: the average Brit’s complete lack of deference to insufferable, rude, ignorant and pompous people.

If Mitt Romney was a cartoon character, he would pop up in the middle of one of those arguments where Elmer Fudd cannot work out whether to shoot Bugs or Daffy…

Bugs Bunny: (grabs the end of Elmer Fudd’s shotgun and points it at Daffy) Duck season!

Daffy Duck: (grabs Fudd’s gun and points it at Bugs) Wabbit Season!

Bugs Bunny: Duck season!

Daffy Duck: Wabbit Season!

Bugs Bunny: Duck season!

Mitt Romney: (grabs the gun and points it at himself) Mitt season!

(Elmer shoots Mitt)

Mitt Romney’s Olympic visit to London did serve a very useful purpose. For quite a while, Brits have wondered if there really is a ‘special relationship’ between the UK and the USA, or if Americans just think the Brits are chumps. The reason for the doubt is pretty straightforward. American politicians heap praise on the UK whenever it agrees to spend billions on sending British troops to fight in wars that America is very keen to fight. The rest of the time, they are dismissive and sneering towards Britain’s interests. President Obama has been especially off-hand with the Brits. On their first meeting, there was an exchange of gifts between the then British Primeminister, Gordon Brown, and Obama. Brown gave Obama a pen holder made from the wood of a Victorian anti-slave ship, HMS Gannet. The Oval Office contains a desk made from the Gannet’s sister ship. In exchange, Obama thoughtfully presented Brown with… a multi-pack of DVDs. Republicans observed Obama’s high-handed behaviour, and they have been jumping all over Obama for removing a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office. Thanks to Obama’s arrogance, everything has been set up for Romney to visit Britain and score some cheap points, by simply emphasizing the importance of the relationship between the two countries, and how he was far more ‘Anglo-Saxon‘ than Obama. All Romney had to do was show up, smile, say nothing, and low British self-esteem would have filled in the blanks, imagining there might still be a special relationship if there was a change in the White House. Unfortunately, Romney spoke. Out loud. And every time he did, he confirmed the same thing: there is no special relationship between the US and UK. It does not matter who sits in the Oval Office. The US President cares about US voters, and Brits do not vote in American elections. That means American Presidents only take an interest in British lives if they can be conveniently expended to reduce the cost of wars that are otherwise borne by the American voter. American Presidents, or even wannabes, do not take an interest in:

  • Remembering the names of the British political leaders they are meeting with;
  • Familiarizing themselves with British customs; or
  • Being complimentary to your host’s Olympic preparations.

Personally, I blame the influence of Mel Gibson. He was the last of the Hollywood mob to routinely cast English character actors as the baddies in all his films, seemingly unconcerned that he might profit more by getting Brits to watch those same films. There is a strain of American culture that views Brits in the same way that some Brits view Germans. Both feel they can insult their chosen victims without exhibiting any self-restraint. In truth, such belligerence can only persist because those that suffer it are far more polite than those that indulge in it. Germans still remain surprisingly polite, though even they are tiring of WW2 guilt. Brits are rather less polite than they once were, not that they would expect an American to know either way. So whilst some Americans think Brits are just waiting for some American exceptionalist leadership to point Britain in the right direction, those same Americans are unable to verify the truth of that belief whilst sat in a crappy little trailer in Nebraska. Wherever that is. And nobody likes Mel Gibson any more, now that he has disgraced himself as a sad little drunk bully. Which just goes to show what happens when you adopt Mel Gibson’s worldview.

The end of British politeness was best summed up by the response to Mitt Romney’s insults:

  • British PM David Cameron pointed out it was much easier to run an Olympics ‘in the middle of nowhere’ (a.k.a. Romney’s 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City)
  • London Mayor Boris Johnson lampooned Romney, asking a 60,000-strong crowd if they thought London was ready, or if Romney had been right about a ‘disconcerting’ lack of preparation (the crowd unanimously agreed that London was ready)
  • The right-leaning Telegraph Newspaper said: “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
  • And there were lots of other bad headlines for Romney in all the other papers, even the ones owned by Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch (Murdoch’s Sun went with ‘Mitt the Twit’). There were so many bad headlines for Romney it would be tedious for anyone but a partisan nutjob to buy all the papers, take photos of them, and put them on a blog. So, as proof of all the bad headlines, look here for the relevant blog from Obama’s UK supporters.
  • The hashtags ‘#romneyshambles‘ and ‘#americanborat‘ were instant (and hilarious) hits on Twitter.

And it went on, and on. And the stream of outrage summed up how the British felt about being besmirched by someone best cast as Spock’s dad in the next Star Trek movie (“I have been accused of many things in my life, never an excess of emotion“). But though the Brits went on, and Romney wisely backtracked, that was not the end. Wiser American right-wingers stated that Romney had been tactless and then wisely decided to move the conversation on to more productive ground. But they did admit that Romney had been stupid. As Krauthammer put it in the Washington Post:

…Romney should say nothing of substance, just offer effusive expressions of affection for his hosts — and avoid needless contretemps, like his inexplicably dumb and gratuitous critique of Britain’s handling of the Olympic Games. The whole point is to show appreciation for close allies, something the current president has conspicuously failed to do.

But not everyone could move on. If anything, some American right-wing onlookers took note of the wound inflicted by Romney, and then decided to spit in it:

  • Jennifer Rubin, the utterly tedious hack and Romneyphile, had nothing to say about Romney’s behaviour in London. Literally nothing. As if Romney had made no gaffe, and received no rebuke from PM David Cameron, or anyone else. However, Cameron had separately admitted it was a shame that a video shown at a football game had displayed the South Korean flag alongside photos of the North Korean women’s football team, and Rubin was ready to pounce. “British Prime Minister David Cameron’s apology for the flag mix-up to the Great Leader’s gulag should give the American press a clue about this guy’s view of the world,” she wrote. Well, the clue is not that David Cameron is a secret fan of North Korean socialism, which is Rubin’s obvious but absurdly infantile insinuation. More likely, David Cameron’s view is that it is not polite to mix up the flags of countries at the Olympic Games, and it is polite to apologize for errors instead of childishly pretending they did not happen. And that in the case of flag-related screw-ups, even North Korea can receive an apology, without that being interpreted as tacit support for the leadership of Kim-Jong-Whatever.
  • Bobby Jindal, Romney surrogate and possible VP pick, said: “We’re not worried about overseas headlines. We’re worried about voters back here at home in America“. Nice one. Thanks for the confirmation that the leaders of the Republican Party do not give a damn about what Brits think. But if the goal is to get the attention of American voters who live in the United Stated of America, why did the campaign fly to Britain and then starting insulting the Brits? Perhaps, as a campaign insider, Jindal is conscious of some secret strategy to pick up votes from American voters who enjoy seeing Brits insulted.
  • The standard tack on Breitbart.com was to pretend nothing happened and, if anything did happen, it was a lie made up by America’s leftist media. It was unclear if all British newspapers, and the BBC, and most people who live in Britain are, by extension, also part of the leftist American media conspiracy. In a story with the unpromising headline of: ‘Media Distorts Romney’s Olympics History to Invent “Gaffe”‘, Ron Futrell went on to write ‘the media has created this battle, clear and simple’. Right. So when Brits slag off Obama that is legitimate outrage, but when they slag off Romney, then this is a lie invented the left. It must be invented because, aside from Romney’s gratuitous insults, the Brits have no conceivable reason to slag off Romney. Any suggestion that the Brits were ready to thrust Romney’s face in his dressage horse’s shit can only be explained as a Trotskyite conspiracy designed to undermine Comrade Stalin – ahem, I mean Governor Romney. Also neither Trotsky nor the UK ever existed, and they were also fabricated by the mainstream media, along with Obama’s birth certificate and evidence that Sarah Palin is a moron. Any photos indicating the existence of Trotsky or Britain were photoshopped, obviously. So Breitbart.com is entitled to airbrush them, before anyone falls of all those lies, lies, lies.
  • Unfortunately, not everyone on Breitbart.com got the memo, and so Breitbart regular and rabid dog Dan Riehl decided that the problem must be with the Brits being over-sensitive, because it could not possibly be caused by Romney’s lack of diplomatic skills. So he blogged about how it was all the UK’s fault for being so rubbish. In summary, Riehl argued that Britain is a ‘second-rate semi-degenerate nation’, lead by a ‘limp wrist-ed’ (sic) (I have no idea why anyone would put a hyphen in ‘wristed’, but he did) David Cameron, and that Brits are mostly ‘feckless wankers’. One wonders if Riehl will apologize when he glances over Breitbart.com and discovers that the party line is that nobody in Britain complained about anything, and that the bad headlines were solely the product of left-wing media bias. Probably not. Only lovers of North Korea feel the need to apologize for anything. And everyone knows the reputation of Americans as arrogant hateful self-absorbed gits is only based on an unrepresentative sample of fantasist bloggers. Who generally spend their time blogging about how bloggers will soon overthrow the lying, prejudiced, mainstream media. Riehl’s blog is called ‘Riehl World View’ which is kinda funny, as it implies he acknowledges the existence of a world outside of the walnut he thinks with.
  • Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty denied nothing. According to Geraghty, Romney really did say the things that insulted the Brits. According to Geraghty, there was no leftist media conspiracy, after all. The problem was “London calling… and sounding incoherent in their high dudgeon”. Apparently Geraghty seems to think that people cannot be insulted if you tell them the truth. Or at least, your opinion on what is true. Interesting point. If I ever meet Jim Geragty, I shall tell him he is a ‘f*cking wanker’ and that ‘I would like to punch his f*cking lights out because, in my opinion, he deserves it’. Also I might mention punching Dan Riehl too, except that is exactly the kind of thing that clowns like Riehl want. I am confident, if I launch a blitzkrieg of offense approximately one millimetre from Geraghty’s face, he will respond with a warm smile and a hearty handshake. After all, my aim is to convey statements that are entirely accurate, and as they represent my own Riehl-like worldview, nobody can dispute that they truly represent my opinion.
  • A Romney campaign official said London Mayor Boris Johnson had “lived up to his reputation as an eccentric, odd fellow. It was unbecoming to attack Governor Romney in that way.” Clearly this campaign official has confused the meaning of ‘irony’ with that of ‘steely’. If it is unbecoming to criticize, then stop criticizing. This campaign no-name attacked the London Mayor for defending himself after his Olympic preparations were attacked. It is true that Boris Johnson is both eccentric and odd, a truth acknowledged by most Brits. However, the Romney campaign might also want to consider some other words often used to describe Johnson: ‘popular’ and ‘winner’. People even describe Johnson as ‘conservative’. Perhaps the Romney campaign might want to consider how rarely any of these words are used to describe their candidate.

So, in conclusion, well done to the American right. They cleared up any confusion about the ‘special relationship’ between the US and UK. There is none, and will be none. We already knew Obama and the American left were not bothered about having a special relationship with the UK. Romney could have capitalized by doing what Krauthammer suggested – turning up and saying nothing. But not only Romney failed to perform that very simple task. It seems lots of the American right want to bury, beyond doubt, the myth of a special relationship between the UK and US. Brits should keep that in mind, next time the US is looking for a military adventure to be partially subsidized by second-rate nations. As Romney himself wrote in his book:

“England is just a small island. Its roads and houses are small. With few exceptions, it doesn’t make things that people in the rest of the world want to buy. And if it hadn’t been separated from the continent by water, it almost certainly would have been lost to Hitler’s ambitions.”

The name of Romney’s book is ‘No Apology’. So there will be no apology to the Welsh or Scots, who also happen to live on the island called Great Britain (England is not, in fact, an island). The policy of not apologizing is more realistic if you avoid unnecessary insult in the first place. Romney might want to ask himself why he makes it so easy to revile him, because I suspect there is a fairly decent human being underneath that exterior of inhuman elitism. But getting back to the point, it is gratifying to see there is bipartisanship agreement in the USA over one thing – that the UK does not matter. Whether Obama or Romney prevails, the UK will not have a friend in the White House. After all, who needs foreign allies? Only the weak. Not American politicians. They only need American voters. But whilst they wait for the next election, they might want to listen to the kinds of cheers that can be whipped up by a genuinely popular politician…

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