Mitt Romney says President Obama has done nothing on foreign policy, but at the same time, he denounces White House leaks of foreign policy achievements. Wait, achievements? What achievements? In Romney's big foreign policy speech he launched his most forceful attack yet against the administration's disclosure of national security secrets from the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound to the president's "kill list" of Al Qaeda terrorists to the CIA's covert program to cripple Iran's nuclear facilities. "This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field," Romney told attendees of the Veterans of Foreign Wars conference in Reno today. "What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t."
The curious aspect of these attacks is they came in nearly the same breath as saying that the Obama administration has consistently failed. "President Obama promised to lead on foreign policy, but by his own measure and the goals he set to accomplish, he has failed. One time after another, President Obama has set out to appease our adversaries, only to see them take advantage of his perceived weakness," Romney said.
This may look like cognitive dissonance, but it smells of campaign strategy by Romney to rule Obama's biggest foreign policy successes as out of bounds (sort of like how Obama has worked hard to impeach Romney's claim as a successful entrepreneur at Bain) which leaves only, well, his failures. While peaceniks might disagree with president Obama's raid on bin Laden, drone strike policies, or cyber war with Iran, these are not policies that Republicans typically take issue with. Still, Romney would very much appreciate it if the White House never revealed information about those practices or mention them on the campaign trail.
As Romney quite pointedly noted in May, the president deserves an "F" when it comes to foreign policy, despite killing bin Laden. When pressed to explain the low grade, Romney has remained firm. “I’d look at the fact that he was looking to have a force of American troops staying in Iraq, securing what had been so hard won there, and with the Status of Forces agreement. He failed to achieve it,” Romney told CBS News at the time. “In the Middle East, the Arab spring has become the Arab Winter,” Romney continued. “That’s hardly a success. As I look around the world, I have to believe his positions in foreign policy have not communicated American strength and resolve.”
So which is it? Is Obama a do-nothing president on foreign policy? Or a do-something president who brags too much? Whatever the case, they are two clearly different character types. It's apparent that the Romney campaign saw an easy opening into the issue after Sen. Dianne Feinstein suggested the President wasn't owning up to his administration's leaks. On Monday, the California Democrat told a World Affairs Council forum “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks.” When you have a low-hanging fruit like that—a Democrat attacking the White House's disclosure policies—you can't let it spoil. This is especially the case when your opposition to the president's foreign policy is more about feelings than substantive policy. Unfortunately for Romney, he has to sleep in the bed he already made for himself.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.