Everyone has vacation disaster stories. Passports get lost. People miss planes. Montezuma has his revenge. I once had to help paramedics carry a dead body out of a hotel lobby in Gorky before I was allowed to check in.
But none of this comes close to the series of unfortunate events that was Mitt Romney's trip to London. Clark Griswold had an easier time of it in Europe. Maybe they don't pick up after their dogs in that city, because Romney stepped in it everywhere he went.
In America, we're used to Romney's gaffes. It's always the same Mitt, different day. But this is new to the Brits, and the local reviews were not kind. Said the Guardian, "Mitt Romney's first foreign trip of his presidential candidacy hasn't gone quite as well as he might have hoped." With considerably less reserve blared The Sun: "Mitt the twit."
Romney was scraping words off his shoe before he stepped on British soil after an anonymous foreign policy adviser to his campaign said, "We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special." No sooner had all the president's men denounced that racist statement as racist did Romney disavow it, but he never recovered.
Ever have a guest come to your house, call your baby ugly and then pull out pictures of his own kids and say, "Now these are some good-looking kids"? Of course you haven't. No normal person would act that way, but to paraphrase Clark Griswold, we're not talking about a normal person. We're talking about Mitt Romney. Asked of his impression of London's readiness for the Olympics, Romney contrasted the confusion he saw in London with the orderly Salt Lake City Winter Games he helmed in 2002 and sniffed, "It's hard to know just how well it will turn out."
Replied the prime minister, "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere." That was England's best shot at an American since the War of 1812.
After Romney ate crow -- now that I think about it, that might've been his lunch -- he received a confidential briefing on Syria from MI6, Britain's spy service. We know he received this top-secret briefing because he told the reporters while standing outside the prime minister's house. Let's absolutely give this man the nuclear codes.
Finally, Romney had a friendly chat with the foreign secretary. They discussed free trade and, according to an email from the Romney campaign, "they both discussed their mutual love of Kit Kat bars."
For my money, Romney's worst blunder was when he said he might not watch his wife's dancing horse Rafalca compete in the Olympics. "I have to tell you, this is Ann's sport. I'm not even sure which day the sport goes on. She will get the chance to see it, I will not -- be -- watching -- the event," said Romney. Translation, he'd rather be elected president than ever have sex with his wife again.
It's hard to tell whether Romney's Ugly American tour will hurt his election prospects. Getting booed in Europe will probably endear him to the Flat Earth Society that is the Republican Party. But his bad U.K. tour does not bode well for the fall. Getting knocked around by the British is like A-Rod striking out in t-ball. I'm not sure Romney's ready to take on The One.
Romney wrote of Obama in his book No Apology, "Never before in American history has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined." In a primary debate he claimed that Obama "went around the world and apologized for America" and has repeated the falsehood in his stump speech hundreds of time since. Politifact has given him so many "Pants on Fire" ratings for repeating the -- and there's just no other word for it -- lie that Obama's campaign should have a fire truck follow him around on the campaign trail.
But now Obama might actually have to go on an apology tour to clean up after Romney repeatedly turned foreign policy photo-ops into international incidents. Irony isn't dead. It's just tired from overuse.