Mitt Romney created a little fuss in London with his mild criticisms of the UK’s security preparations for the Olympics, but he’s finishing his trip abroad with a bang — literally. Nobel Prize winner and near-legendary freedom fighter Lech Walesa, who got snubbed by his Nobel peer Barack Obama earlier this year for being “too political,” banged his fist on the desk for emphasis when he endorsed Mitt Romney’s “success,” and wished him much more of it in the presidential election:
Mitt Romney came to this iconic port city Monday for a prized photo opportunity with former Polish President Lech Walesa that would link him to the hero of Solidarity and perhaps catch the eye of the many Polish-Americans clustered in swing states.
Romney got that and then some.
Walesa, in a clearly prepared move, effectively endorsed the presumptive GOP nominee once reporters were let into their meeting here.
“I wish you to be successful because this success is needed to the United States, of course, but to Europe and the rest of the world, too,” Walesa said through a translator.
Then, with a bang of his fist on a wooden table, the Nobel Prize winner urged the Republican to claim victory: “Gov. Romney, get your success — be successful!”
Romney focused on Poland’s fight for political and economic freedom, hailing them as a leading light for NATO and the West:
“Rather than heeding the false promise of a government-dominated economy, Poland sought to stimulate innovation, attract investment, expand trade, and live within its means,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “Your success today is a reminder that the principles of free enterprise can propel an economy and transform a society.”
Romney traced Poland’s recent history, and found it offered hope for other nations.
“Unfortunately, there are parts of the world today where the desire to be free is met with brutal oppression: Just to the east of here, the people of Belarus suffer under the oppressive weight of dictatorship,” Romney was to tell an audience of about 400 people at the University of Warsaw Library.
Poles returned the affection, although you have to get to page 2 of the Bloomberg report on the trip to find that out:
Hundreds of cheering Poles greeted Romney when he arrived at the old town hall in Gdansk, a port town that was the birthplace of the Polish Solidarity movement.
“This is like a rally in the U.S.,” said Romney’s wife, Ann, as she waved to the crowd.
Media reports on Romney’s visit to Poland have focused on his remarks about the difference between Israeli and Palestinian economies. Romney asserted that the difference was due to culture, which is certainly true to some degree, but there are other factors in play. Thanks to the illegal arms trade conducted by Fatah and Hamas (as well as less-well-known terrorist factions), Israel keeps a tight lid on foreign trade in the West Bank and Gaza. As the Bloomberg report also points out, though, the decline in the per-capita income in the Palestinian Authority has more to do with decreased foreign aid over the last few years, thanks to both the economic instability in the West and declining interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which remains as deadlocked as it has been since 1948. If the Palestinian leadership wants to achieve economic parity with Israel, they need to get serious about a real, permanent two-state solution rather than play games while promising their people that they will eventually annihilate Israel.