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King Features Column

(One more time: Because of the syndication deal, these columns appear here a week after their newspaper release)

       CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
       What a spectacle! With performers ranging from Queen Elizabeth II herself to high-stepping genuine doctors and nurses to real sheep, about all that was missing in the Brits’ opening Olympic extravaganza was a real sheepish Mitt Romney tap-dancing away from his embarrassing TV comments about England’s preparations for the games. By the time he skipped town, he had managed to turn all of jolly old England not so jolly. And this is the guy who is traipsing around on an overseas mission to demonstrate how adept he is at foreign relations.
       Where he is adept is fundraising. Before he had slunk out of London, he had a cozy gathering with high-finance types that included several connected to the Libor-rate scandal. The price of admission was $25,000 to $50,000 per fat cat. Ka-ching! The take was about $2 million.
       Then it was on to Jerusalem, where he held another. This one also was $50,000 a head, for wealthy donors who are intent on replacing Barack Obama because he hasn’t been deferential enough to the Israeli government. Among the visit’s choreographers was Sheldon Adelson, that international gambling tycoon and Jewish American militant. Adelson plans to dump $100 million into the campaign on top of the millions in financial support he has already lavished on just about any Republican who will toe his hard line and agree that Obama has been far too evenhanded in the Middle East. Never mind that Obama is president of the United States, which, for those who forget, is a separate country.
       Romney made sure his fervent patrons got what they paid for, declaring that as Benjamin Netanyahu threatens an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites, “We will not look away, nor will our country ever look away from our passion and commitment to Israel.” That is music to the ears of those nervous about Obama’s lack of fealty to the tough Likud agenda.
       He also held talks with old buddy Netanyahu and a blur of other officials, including lesser Palestinian leaders. Mitt and Bibi go back to the ’70s, when they worked together as corporate advisers. Now they are prime minister and president-wannabee. While Romney insisted he would not complicate the Obama administration’s open differences with Netanyahu’s agenda, he did just that: “Diplomatic distance in public between our nations,” he proclaimed, “emboldens Israel’s adversaries.” How could that not be a reason to believe the Israelis might have a more pliant U.S. chief executive after the election?


       Time to mourn the platitude “Politics stops at the water’s edge,” first uttered in 1947. Time certainly has blown that ideal to smithereens -- for that matter, all bipartisanship.
       Of course, if anyone has ignored the “water’s edge,” it would be Mitt, considering where he has hidden so much of his personal fortune. While we are aware of Bermuda, the Caymans and good old Switzerland, we don’t know where the other secret berths are for his millions. Maybe all of us trying to extricate his tax returns could be called “Berthers.” Then again ...
       Actually, this guy is one stealthy dude. When he left office as Massachusetts governor, he and his aides obliterated most digital files. The same thing happened after he completed his stint at the 2002 Winter Olympics. It’s easy to see why he trashes Obama for not being secret enough and for selectively making public covert material.
       He conveniently ignores how zealously POTUS prosecutes those who divulge classified information. Isn’t democracy supposed to be open? Or is that also obsolete? What a shame that our most reliable source for understanding what’s going on is WikiLeaks.
       If politics was an Olympic event, our guys would require a security clearance to watch. Come to think of it, the idea of electioneering as sport is absurd. Sport requires rules.
       © 2012 Bob Franken
       Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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