A President Romney Will Come to Regret Damaging Remark about Our Nation (El Pais,
"If he wins this election and becomes president of the United States, how will he manage his relationship with Spain, a member of NATO, a territory with strategically-important American military bases, and a first-rate ally of the United States? If Romney is made president, the phrase 'I don't want to go down the path to Spain,' delivered at the worst moment in Spain's recent history, will haunt him whenever he needs to come in contact with our country."
Those ten words by Mitt Romney - “I don't want to go down
the path to Spain” - sounded like a bomb going off to the ears of Spaniards who
were following the U.S. election debate. It was a battle of two contenders
aspiring to the most important political office on earth, the presidency of a
country that, to a great degree, governs the destiny of the world. To be cited
there, and in such a negative way, is an injury that can have consequences
beyond the mere discomfort it represent.
Much of the leeway Spain has for getting out of its crisis
depends on its image abroad. Romney, who for many years headed an investment
firm, should be the first to know. This allusion, in a televised event watched
by millions of people around the world, has an extraordinary power to bring a
deterioration in that image.
For years, it has been a cliché to mention certain failed
countries or nations with little international influence as examples of what not
to do. Prime Minister Mariano
Rajoy himself once said, “We are not Uganda,” with
the intention of highlighting the supposed solvency of Spain. Now it is Romney,
who is considered a political ally of Rajoy in the
United States, who is substituting Uganda for Spain in his unfortunate
The context in which Spain was mentioned, and the stark
reality that our country is experiencing an extremely difficult economic period
do nothing to diminish the far-reaching consequences of the Republican
Romney said: “Spain spends 42 percent of their total economy
on government. We're now spending 42 percent of our economy on government.
...I don't want to go down the path to
Spain.” Since, of course, there was no Spanish representative in the debate,
nor was it the duty of Barack Obama to play the role of explainer of Spain’s
public accounts, the failure of the Spanish model was therefore established.
Given the events that have taken place in Spain over the
past several months, the fact that the Spanish situation frequently draws the
attention of American media is natural. A
recent article in The New York Times
that portrayed the grimmest aspects of the Spanish crisis, describing the poverty
and sadness that are seeping into the national landscape, caused quite a controversy
Media are focused on news and tend to accentuate the
negative, which rarely results in accusations of distortion, and even less so, of
deliberate attack. But media includes a variety of nuances and declarations and
can be answered in a variety of ways. When a politician of such high stature,
in such a mass venue, utters words that are so crushing, the effect can be a strange
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Romney’s words may even have diplomatic consequences. If he
wins this election and becomes president of the United States, how will he manage
his relationship with Spain, a member of NATO, a territory with strategically-important
American military bases, and a first-rate ally of the United States? If Romney
is made president, the phrase “I don't want to go down the path to Spain,” delivered
at the worst moment in Spain’s recent history, will haunt him whenever he needs
to come in contact with our country.
Moreover, Romney’s criticism, to say nothing of its
questionable veracity, feeds into the worst mutual stereotypes of our two
countries. It confirms to the Americans their belief that Spain is an
insignificant country in a remote corner of Europe (or perhaps Latin America),
and gives fodder to the prejudices of Spaniards, who want nothing to do with the
United States and constantly refer to it as the source of all evil.
Only four years ago, in a 2008 debate, Obama alluded to
Spain as a model for developing alternative energy sources. How long ago that
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