ASK MITT ANYTHING...well, almost anything!
The Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan recently commented on the state of the Republican Party in America - http://tinyurl.com/943b424 Whatever your political hue, or philosophical position you happen to occupy, Swan's views have a good deal of currency.
With G.W. Bush assuming the Presidency for two terms, the U.S. political barometer took a significant, inevitable, and largely expected lurch to the right. Since the U.S. media adopted the practice of running news items identifying Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden together as related, interdependent, and almost interchangeable characters, the scenario for war was set.
The American public was served a constant diet of threats, elevated threats, innuendo regarding imminent attack by Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction - totally fictitious as we now all know, and many suspected at the time - and bare-faced lies over the sale and purchase of material necessary to make aggressive uranium-based weapons. Fed on this barrage of propaganda, it's hardly surprising that the baying for revenge gathered momentum in the lead-up to the invasion by the "Coalition of the Willing" - despite the illegality of the attack being clearly established under International Law and the Charter of the United Nations.
Reaction to the over-extended involvement and the huge dollars involved in the war, combined with a charismatic Democratic candidate, pulled the US voters, and the political scene, back towards the centre of the political spectrum - at least in domestic terms.
The Democrats' foreign policy hasn't varied much from the previous administration, and has largely followed the standard American foreign policy stance outlined in 1947 by George F. Kennan after the onset of the Cold War.
President Obama's domestic policies have been harried and harassed by a vigorous and pro-active opposition, and Swan's remarks regarding the undue influence of the Tea Party struck a chord with this observer.
Any political organisation despatched to opposition after a period in power seeks to rebuild, rejuvenate, and re-invent itself. After Obama's resounding victory, the Republicans embarked on the changing of the guard and on the journey to re-construct a credible alternative to the Democrat administration.
It appeared that the struggle to find that credible alternative left a vacuum into which the vocal Tea Party movement stepped. Perhaps it's the nature of right-wing politics to be drawn toward strident populist minorities, but the Republican leadership seemed for a while at least to be mesmerised by the home-spun, good ol' boy, claptrap being espoused by Palin et.al.
In time for the upcoming Presidential election, the Republicans produced a candidate in Mitt Romney that they felt stood the best chance of defeating Obama's so-called socialist policies.
In truth, he probably was the pick of the bunch, as the others stood as being shaky, flakey, or downright unelectable.
But here's the rub. It looks like their candidate has feet to match his wealth - pretty substantial - and they seem to be getting in his mouth fairly regularly
- To state publicly that he has no interest in 47% of the American people because they're beneficiaries is, to say the least, a startling admission from a candidate hoping to attract a decent percentage of those voters to his cause.
To state publicly that Palestinians have no interest in a peaceful settlement in the middle-east may appease some members of the Jewish community, but by dismissing one side in a lengthy, bloody, and complex situation, Romney presents as having no idea at all about developing a stance which might help stop the conflict.
Tepid statements of rejection regarding claims from another Republican senatorial candidate who claims to have advanced medical knowledge of the workings of the female physiology have done nothing to endear Romney to female voters in America.
The difficulty I have - and I suspect Wayne Swan has - is imagining Romney as President.
I wonder how many American voters are having the same difficulty?
The caption to the photograph and the title of this post - "Ask Mitt Anything" - but if I were a Republican Party strategist, I'd be concerned about fielding questions without very careful prior screening.
The Laird of Albany