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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Finally, there is a strong stink of intellectual dishonesty tainting the arguments of Romney and his defenders. You will not hear them protest against the government of Israel for its recent attacks on Nobel laureate Gunter Grass, whose poem warning about the Jewish state’s nuclear arsenal evoked the strongest possible condemnations and official strictures against him in Jerusalem. Did those actions violate democratic values and the author’s fundamental rights?

Nor did Romney and his neoconservative coterie mount the barricades to defend free speech in 2006, when the Bush administration denounced the Danish cartoon of Muhammad that led to mob violence in Europe. Condoleezza Rice, then serving as Secretary of State, clearly saw no contradiction between protecting freedom of speech and rebuking obnoxious speech, both of which served U.S. policy objectives. The State Department issued a response then that she no doubt approved.

“We find them offensive, and we certainly understand why Muslims would find these images offensive, “ said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack of the Danish cartoons. “Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief.” At the same time, McCormack said, “We vigorously defend the right of individuals to express points of view.”

This humiliating episode is still another instance of Romney attempting to borrow a political toughness and consistency that he has never possessed. It is an impulse that has led him repeatedly to make statements that offend American allies, compromise American policies, and injure American prestige.

Forfeiting the trust of America’s diplomatic corps, Romney has now disqualified himself, again, from world leadership. He seems like some kind of presidential mannequin — cosmetically perfect, yet lightweight and utterly hollow within.  He is a contender for least qualified major party presidential candidate in modern history.

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