Thomas Friedman at the New York Times
points out the other major "not getting it" area Mr. Romney suffers from. The on-going contention that we live in a world where Democrats are craven on matters of foreign affairs while the US has unlimited international clout. Perhaps this is simply offered as fodder for the Tea Party base - though I somehow don't think so, I think he believes it.
But it isn't 1989. The Soviet Union has not just collapsed, China is not just emerging as a global economic force, and the Internet is not something only used by geeks to share UUENCODED porn (an the occasional research paper).
Rather than really thinking afresh about the world, Romney has chosen instead to go with the same old GOP bacon and eggs - that the Democrats are toothless wimps who won't stand up to our foes or for our values, that the Republicans are tough and that it is 1989 all over again. That is, the U.S. stands astride the globe with unrivaled power to bend the world our way, and the only thing missing is a president with "will." The only thing missing is a president who is ready to simultaneously confront Russia, bash China, tell Iraqis we're not leaving their country, snub the Muslim world by outsourcing our Arab-Israel policy to the prime minister of Israel, green light Israel to bomb Iran - and raise the defense budget while cutting taxes and eliminating the deficit.
The article is short enough that it is almost worth quoting verbtim, but I will resist (at least by a sentence or two).
It is a globalized economy in which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S.' largest business lobby, has opposed Romney's pledge to designate China as a currency manipulator and is pressing Congress to lift Cold War trade restrictions on Russia, a country Romney has labeled the U.S.' "No. 1 geopolitical foe."
In personal and political matters it is always my preference to use subtle tools backed up by extreme measures whose existence and shape are mostly inferred by the words you don't use to talk about them. For most of human history this has not been the most often used approach - actual force and fiery rhetoric litter the fields of our past. And perhaps that has been as it should be in a world where actual barbarians with actual swords could ride and rape through the countryside at a given moment. But those days seem long gone, even for those of us old enough to remember them personally.
And good riddance to bad rubbish.
Ronald Reagan presided over the dying days of that era. For all his hawkish legacy he fought the more subtle game that Romney and the modern GOP dismiss, portraying America as the "Shining city on a hill" for others to follow and the Soviet Union as unsophisticated jackbooted clouts. He won by befriending the leader of the USSR and then calling on him to "tear down this wall".
Mr. Romney is as out of touch with the modern world as he is with modern Americans if he does not understand that we know this, now. That we understand winning without a club, without unrestricted ownership of the situation.
This complexity doesn't argue for isolationism. It argues for using our power judiciously. For instance, if you had listened to Romney criticizing Obama for weakness after the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, you'd have thought that, had Romney been president, he would have immediately ordered some counterstrike. But, had we done so, it would have aborted what was a much more meaningful response: Libyans themselves taking to the streets under the banner "Our Revolution Will Not Be Stolen" and storming the headquarters of the Islamist militias who killed the U.S. ambassador. It shows you how much this complexity can surprise you.
Romney doesn't understand winning by subtle means. He lives in a slash-and-burn world that no longer exists.