Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Romney's foreign policy twilight zone

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Wed October 10, 2012
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, order food at a Wendy's restuarant in Richmond Heights, Ohio, on Tuesday. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, order food at a Wendy's restuarant in Richmond Heights, Ohio, on Tuesday.
HIDE CAPTION
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
From the campaign trail
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson: Romney's foreign policy speech full of lies, distortions, flip-flops
  • He says it claims no trade pacts under Obama, but there have been three, one Ryan voted for
  • He says Romney seems to think people forgot his comments that two-state solution was hopeless
  • LZ: On Iran, Syria, Libya, Romney gives alternate reality; supporters want to believe it

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.

(CNN) -- I was waiting for my bags at the airport when I saw Mitt Romney delivering his foreign policy speech on TV.

Coincidentally, I was holding the latest issue of Time, which has Romney and President Obama on the cover, and between them the question, "Who Is Telling the Truth?"

I was in Chicago, but by the end of Romney's speech I thought I was in the twilight zone. Here's why.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

The Time article debunks a lot of the lies and distortions put forth by both candidates. As I was reading about Romney's untruths, I was watching him repeat them, on TV.

One example that stood out was about trade. On Monday Romney said, "The president has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years."

Opinion: Rand Paul -- Romney's wrong on Middle East, defense spending

False, said the Time article: "Obama signed previously negotiated trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea."

Not one to just go along with whatever the "liberal media" put in front of me, I looked for a fair and balanced source. That's when I came across this 2011 headline from Fox News: "Obama Signs 3 Trade Deals, Biggest Since NAFTA."

Hmmmmm.

The story went on to say that the South Korean deal was renegotiated by Obama to expand access for U.S. vehicles in Korea, supporting 70,000 jobs; that Republicans supported the signings; and that Obama actually went against a large number of Democrats in the House to get the deal done.

A little more digging revealed that Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, voted in favor of the deal -- called HR 3080 -- on October 12, 2011.

So either Romney has no idea what he's talking about, or he stood in front of the good folks at Virginia Military Institute and told a big old fat lie. Sadly, neither possibility is all that unusual in this year's election. As the Time piece pointed out, Obama also straddles that fence from time to time on the campaign trail.

So the trippy, twilight zone part of Romney's speech wasn't his misrepresentation of the president's foreign policy, but that Romney was talking as if no one had seen him express, for example, the uncensored version of his own foreign policy, thanks to the secretly taped video from the now infamous Boca Raton fund-raiser.

Analyzing Romney's foreign policy speech
Romney rep on foreign policy differences
Pres. Obama rep.: Red line for Iran

On Monday, as he criticized Obama, he said "hope is not a strategy."

But at that dinner, when he thought no one outside of that room was watching, Romney said that "the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish" between Israel and the Palestinians, and that the best we can hope for is to "kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve."

Now if that's not hope as a strategy, I don't know what is.

Opinion: Romney's sorta-kinda call to arms

Last week during the debate, Romney was criticized for pivoting away from some of the economic policies he'd been pushing for nearly two years.

Monday, he just seemed to be pivoting away from reality, trying to deliver a big robust foreign policy speech -- as if none of us had heard his foreign policy adviser Robert O'Brien describe Obama's focus on foreign policy as a "distraction" barely a month ago.

While there may not have been anything in Romney's speech that sounded as loony as when Herman Cain said he was afraid China was "trying to develop nuclear capability," there were certainly enough moments to make you wonder if Romney was just trying to toss as much garbage as he could against VMI's wall to see if anything would stick.

He criticized the president for being too passive in supporting forces trying to overthrow a dictator, forgetting that a year ago he condemned the president for being too aggressive in helping forces overthrow a dictator.

"Qaddafi must go and go for good," is what the president said in a 2011 joint New York Times op-ed article with David Cameron, prime minister of Britain, and Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France.

In response, Romney said our involvement was "another example of mission creep" and agreed with former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, who said Obama had set himself up for "massive strategic failure" by demanding Gadhafi's ouster.

Romney talked a lot about Libya on Monday but failed to mention Gadhafi. Curious.

And while Libya is hardly a bastion of democracy, Romney is embarrassingly wrong in saying "the president has failed to offer the tangible support that our partners want and need."

He said the U.S. should be aiding the rebels in Syria. We have been for months.

He said the U.S. needs to support Israel. This administration has allocated more aid to Israel than any other.

He said the U.S. needs to be tough on Iran. Iranians were rioting in the streets last week because their currency has lost more than half of its value against the dollar over the past two months because of the Obama-led sanctions.

I'm all for constructive criticism, but it would help if Romney actually had something to say. And by "something to say" I mean something truthful to say. But then again, as Republican master manipulator Frank Luntz said in the Time article: "We don't collect news to inform us. We collect news to affirm us."

Opinion: Obama, Romney -- Ignore Afghanistan war at your own peril

That's why instead of asking "Who is telling the truth?" maybe the better question is "Does the truth even matter?" In July, Pew found 30% of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim -- still.

Face it, Romney gave the vacuous foreign policy speech that he did because at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter to his supporters what he says, just as long as he's the one saying it. In their eyes, the president can do no right, while in the eyes of Obama supporters, the president can do no wrong. In that kind of cuckoo political reality, "truth" is just another obstacle to overcome.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
updated 11:00 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
updated 4:54 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
updated 1:39 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
updated 3:20 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
updated 9:56 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
updated 4:01 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
updated 9:53 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
updated 5:53 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
updated 10:50 AM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
updated 4:23 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
updated 9:26 AM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
updated 9:39 AM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
updated 12:38 PM EST, Sun December 14, 2014
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
updated 1:28 PM EST, Thu December 11, 2014
Rip Rapson says the city's 'Grand Bargain' saved pensions and a world class art collection by pulling varied stakeholders together, setting civic priorities and thinking outside the box
updated 6:10 PM EST, Sat December 13, 2014
Glenn Schwartz says the airing of the company's embarrassing emails might wake us up to the usefulness of talking in-person instead of electronically
updated 5:33 PM EST, Fri December 12, 2014
The computer glitch that disrupted air traffic over the U.K. on Friday was a nuisance, but not dangerous, says Les Abend
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT