Debate: Mitt Romney Doesn’t Know Where Iran Is Because He Can’t Be Bothered To Check A Map

Shared from the Democratic Party

“Romney sounded as if he had read the boldfaced headings in a briefing book — or a freshman global history textbook — and had not gone much further than that…At his worst, Mr. Romney sounded like a beauty pageant contestant groping for an answer to the final question.” New York Times

At the Republican National Convention, Clint Eastwood famously debated an empty chair. Last night, it became even more clear that President Obama’s been debating an empty suit. The longer Mitt Romney stands in the spotlight he’s sought for five years and two presidential campaigns, the more obvious it becomes that he expects to just be given the position of POTUS, just as he has everything else in his life; through money, power and privilege.

Mitt Romney’s never met a door that was closed to him- they’ve always swung open by dint of knowing which palm needs greasing and which only requires the old-boy-network secret handshake. Being born into position in both government and the Mormon Church, Romney has never needed anything more than a display of glib camaraderie and superficial charm to achieve his goals. At least until last night.

Romney has proven you can bluff your way pretty far in this world; under the right circumstances, you can even bluff your way through debates on most subjects. You can basically throw around random numbers when you’re talking about the economy, knowing nobody really understands it. You can spin your record as well as your opponent’s, shift blame and use quotes out of context; everything has a little wiggle room, if you think you can sell it. Even most foreign policy has room to dance around, if you don’t have the facts; you can B.S your way around anything.

Except maps.

Last night Mitt Romney, a man who wants to hold perhaps the most important job on the planet, said this:


Well, let’s step back and talk about what’s happening in Syria and how important it is. First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster.

Secondly, Syria’s an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally Israel.

There are a lot of things wrong with this statement; the estimated 30,000 people killed are on both sides of a 19 month old conflict, and the resulting death and chaos is neither an “opportunity” (as much as a tragedy) for the U.S., or a practical pipeline to arm anti-Israel forces. It’s sordid to look at the situation in terms of opportunity, and it’s a tremendous stretch to connect the dots to a threat to Israel; but we’re used to conservatives speaking in those terms. The ‘threat to Israel’ card is the most played in the Republican’s deck of vague fears, where it comes to the middle east.

But the most important, and most telling part of Romney’s statement is displayed on the map above. He doesn’t know the geography. And he doesn’t care about it enough to consult a map. Nor, apparently, does his staff. This was a prepared talking point, taken from a memorized synopsis someone prepared for him. And no one bothered to check the accuracy of the statement on a map, least of all the man who was going out on stage to say it to the entire world.

It’s sloppy, and it’s lazy, and it’s frightening. We’re used to conservative politicians being almost proud of how little they know about the rest of the world; remember Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan-stan? Their voting base doesn’t care about foreign policy, so neither do they. But Romney’s total incomprehension of the geographic realities, points to a larger problem about not just Romney the president, but Romney the man.

Mitt Romney doesn’t do his homework. He’s never had to before, and now when he needs to, he either doesn’t understand the importance, or he just doesn’t know how. He’s glad-handed his way through life for so long, that he believes he can bluff his way into the presidency. We’ve already had 8 years of governance by a son of privilege who couldn’t read a map. We already know what happens when the country is run by someone whose navigating with GPS and cruise-control.

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