WASHINGTON — At the outset of his recent foreign trip, Mitt Romney expressed skepticism about London's preparations.
The response agitated Romney supporters because it was such an unforced error. The question invited a simple paean to Olympic spirit and British grit, not the critical analysis of a former Olympic organizer.
Soon that initial stumble was transmuted into a metaphor for everything that followed. The mainstream media decided that the rest of the trip amounted to a gaffe-prone disaster.
The Warsaw leg was a triumph. Romney's speech warmly embraced Poland's post-communist experiment as a stirring example of a nation committed to limited government at home and a close alliance with America abroad, even unto such godforsaken war zones as Afghanistan and Iraq, at great cost to itself and with little thanks.
Especially little from the Obama administration, which unilaterally canceled a Bush(43)-era missile-defense agreement with Poland to appease Russia.
Without any overt criticism of the current president, Romney set out a foreign policy of radically greater appreciation of and fidelity to American allies.
Yet all we hear about Warsaw is the "gaffe": two phrases uttered by an aide.
At The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reporters hurled questions of such sophistication as, "What about your gaffes?"
To which Rick Gorka suggested that the reporters kiss his posterior.
The other offense against human decency was Gorka's correlative directive to "shove it."
On the eve of the 2004 Democratic Convention, Teresa Heinz Kerry offered precisely that suggestion to an insistent Pittsburgh journalist.
So where's the Romney gaffe? Is what's good for the Heinz not good for the Gorka?
And at his stop in Jerusalem, Romney's speech was a masterpiece of nuance and restraint.
Without directly criticizing Obama, Romney drew distinctions deftly expressed in the code words and curlicued diction of Middle East diplomacy.
He declared flatly that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. The official Obama position is that Israel's capital is to be determined in negotiations with the Palestinians.