Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech today was the best evidence to date that the Republican campaign for the White House has become a back alley game of Three-Card Romney: a short con that pretends to serve the interests of America, while in fact serving only the interests of the campaign.
Less than one month ago, the media was on fire with a video of Mitt Romney explaining to a room of high-dollar donors exactly what the Romney Doctrine on Middle East policy would be: "We have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it."
This clip from the now infamous 47 Percent Video depicted Romney explaining to the audience that the situation in the Middle East was hopeless because Palestinians do not really want peace and that his foreign policy approach would be to wait until something happened.
Sit back, watch, mouth some platitudes about Democracy.
That was the short con last month.
Did anybody notice when Mitt Romney said he would kick the ball on the question of a Palestinian state? Nobody noticed, except, maybe... everybody on Earth.
Ah, but that does not matter to the Romney campaign. All that matters is that they con the mark standing directly in front of them at the moment.
And so, "we kick the ball" was the Romney Doctrine as of mid-September 2012. Now, the Romney campaign moves to a new alley behind a different bus station, in search of a different mark.
The early October version of Mitt Romney has switched its pitch. Passivity is no longer his approach to foreign policy. In fact, "passivity" is now his critique of President Obama.
Hey, kid -- you from Virginia? Wanna make a quick buck? Keep your eye on the cards. Keep your on the Romney.
Today, to an audience at VMI, Romney unloaded his latest version of Middle East foreign policy, tweaked this time to catch voters in the last swing states in play:
I will recommit America to the goal of a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel. On this vital issue, the president has failed, and what should be a negotiation process has devolved into a series of heated disputes at the United Nations. In this old conflict, as in every challenge we face in the Middle East, only a new president will bring the chance to begin anew.
"We Kick the Ball" on a Palestinian state? Buh-bye, kid -- don't let the door hit you on the way out. "I will recommit" to a Palestinian state? Well, hello, sailor -- come on up, l'll show you my Etch A Sketch.
What's amazing, here, is not just Romney's total reversal from statements that were caught on video and studied by the entire planet less than a month ago, but the fact that Romney does not seem to think that anyone will notice this switch-a-roo.
Speech to a group of fancy donors? "We kick the ball." Speech to military industry families in Virginia? "Build more ships -- expand the navy -- spend a trillion dollars!"
Can the short con work? It might, especially when its backed up by the long con of FOX News and Clear Channel barking on every corner in America, and the final 72-hour closing con of Karl Rove.
And just imagine if Romney does win in November and he takes up the mantle of commander-in-chief after barking different foreign policy positions to different marks for the duration of the campaign. What a world of confusion that will create.
Ah, but Mitt Romney will just shuffle the deck and call that confusion "leadership" or maybe "strength."
Step right up! Keep your eye on the Romney. Place your bets. Follow the Romney -- follow it if you can.