So much has been written about Mitt Romney’s trip to England, Israel and Poland. Most pundits reduced the trip to the drip-by-drip harm that his surprisingly error-prone campaign is inflicting on his candidacy. Romney’s travels probably were more of a disaster than most observers and Romney strategists perhaps realize. For a critical and more conservative component of the subgroup of Hispanic or Latino voters that Romney needs to win in November, Romney’s journey was especially worrisome. For HispanicLatino veterans, I would imagine, the trip set off warning bells that most of the know-it-alls opining about such things have any notion about, much less an idea.
Most observers easily seized on Romney’s stumble when he criticized the English for the security of the Olympics they are hosting. That was bad enough for HispanicLatinos for whom mi casa, su casa is more than trite expression but who do not expect their guests to set the house on fire. Other journalists thought that they smelled in Romney the whiff of racism in his condescending remarks about the cultural failings of the Palestinians – a sentiment that many HispanicLatinos have felt if not outright heard from individuals like Romney. But by far more hurtful to Romney was what he said about Iran in Israel and about the outlaw regime in Syria beforehand. At any expense, Romney told his Jewish audience, the United States will do whatever it takes to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And Romney earlier had been criticizing the Obama administration for not being more aggressive with Russia to stop the slaughter in Syria. To military thinkers and planners, the implications of Romney’s speeches have to include troops on the ground.
Most of us blanche at the possibility of a fully nuclearized Iranian state and no one can look away without sadness and pain at the massacre of the Syrians by their government. But I suspect that the implications of Romney’s deeds and actions resonate differently among most HispanicLatinos, among which he already trails President Obama by a 75-25 percent split. Of these, not one-tenth of one percent of HispanicLatinos recognized Dan Senor among Romney’s traveling party. Senor is part of the neoconservative cabal that got us into the multi-trillion-dollar mess in Iraq that has now put the country at the precipice of a fiscal abyss. I would think that among HispanicLatinos veterans and officers the sight of neocons anywhere near Romney causes them heartburn.
Any military thinking regarding Syria and Iran at some point involves foot soldiers and, probably, long-term involvement. And this is the point when HispanicLatinos begin to wag their heads and when HispanicLatino veterans who have done more for their country per capita than most people, including Romney’s five sons, view the trip with suspicion if not trepidation. The Obama campaign probably is shrewd enough to understand how to take advantage of what everyone heard and saw during Romney’s clumsy sojourn last week.
Most HispanicLatinos rejoice when they read news reports about the latest intrusions that disrupt Iran’s nuclear development program. Viruses jamming Iranian computers that make centrifuges spin out of control. Bombs crippling fuel processing plants. Spies stealthily penetrating the system. The thrill of these stories is rooted in relief and the expectation that another land war does not loom anywhere in the Mideast – something that is not at all clear from Romney’s declarations.
The successful cloak-and-dagger stories about how governments are cooperating to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power drip out one by one – a scenario with which the Romney campaign is familiar.