Mitt Romney has a few favorite words he uses as a crutch when he can't think of anything actually bad to say about President Obama. Romney has lots of favorite words. "Energetic" is how he describes female political allies of dwindling popularity, like Nikki Haley and Sarah Palin. "Congratulations," the New York Times points out, is what Romney says to voters in response to just about any personal fact they tell him. And "embolden" is his description of what President Obama does to foreign leaders via his "incompetence." What these words have in common is that they are ways of saying something without saying anything.
Mitt Romney condemned "in the strongest possible terms" North Korea's failed missile launch Friday, but he also condemned Obama for having "no effective response." Romney said in a statement that Obama had tried to "appease" the North Korean regime with food aid, but that didn't work. "This incompetence from the Obama Administration has emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and our allies." While many analysts agree that it's hard to work with an irrational country that's willing to starve its people in order to finance stunning displays of propaganda and embarrassing displays of failed military strength. (A third of North Korean kids are "permanently stunted" because they haven't gotten enough food. In some areas, people are rationed only 150 grams of cereal a day.) So, perhaps it's no surprise that the well-being of its citizens wouldn't be the top priority in the diplomatic negotiations. But what was truly surprising was that North Korea didn't act in the bad faith observers have become accustomed to. As Council on Foreign Relations' Scott Snyder told the Los Angeles Times, "What is perplexing is that they left benefits on the table… Normally they would cash in on the agreement before reneging."