Mitt Romney’s Supposed Olympic “Gaffe”

Like most of you, I sat down in front of the television last night to watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.  I was heartened to see Gov. Romney and Ann in the stands, smiling and waving warmly when the American athletes came out.  Of course, as we are all aware, Gov. Romney saved the 2002 Winter Olympics.  It was nice that the NBC commentators pointed his Olympic accomplishment out, saying that people should appreciate that regardless of political persuasion.

But what about that gaffe that you’ve all heard about?  Less than 24 hours before the Games began, Brits were all atwitter, because Gov. Romney expressed what everyone had already been thinking.  He was asked a simple question and he gave a reasonable response:

You know, it’s hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials . . . that obviously is not something which is encouraging.

John O’Sullivan over on NRO reacts to this:

Well, in short order: (1) It is unquestionably true that it is hard to know how well the games will turn out since the answer lies in the future. (2) There undoubtedly are a few things about the games that were disconcerting. (3) Those things include the reports about the security company having too few people and the threat of a strike by immigration and customs officials.

Nor did Romney predict the failure of the games; he merely wondered if people would come together and “celebrate the Olympic moment” when it arrived. On that question, see point (1) above.

Yet, immediately, the British media went nuts.  The Sun’s headline was “Mitt the Twit,” in a ridiculous overreaction to Gov. Romney’s response.  Reporters who had complained the organizers were incompetent and spending too much were aghast. David Cameron made a rude reference to Gov. Romney’s Olympics which were held “in the middle of nowhere.” (I guess he doesn’t need any votes in Utah).  Then, Boris Johnson led a crowd into a chant reminiscent of Obama’s “Yes, we can.”

I get it, I get it.  It’s just like siblings who fight between themselves but defend each other from outside criticism.  However, Gov. Romney is not exactly “outside” of the Olympic family.  Not only did he save the Winter Olympics, his wife Ann has a horse competing in the dressage competition.  He has legitimate critiques based on a huge amount of previous experience.  Plus, as John O’Sullivan points out, Gov. Romney handled the criticism well:

With heroic restraint Romney responded in the way that in the past an English gentleman was popularly supposed to respond to excitable foreigners jabbering over some grievance. Though there was always the risk of errors, he said, he was sure that they would be overshadowed by the courage, character, determination of the athletes . . . perfectly splendid . . . good show . . . nice being here . . . is that the exit? . . . etc., etc.

In other word, he summed up, “It’s not Romney who needs to wonder what went wrong in London; it’s his ungracious hosts.”
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Nancy French is a three time New York Times Best Selling Author.


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