Romney Middle East Geography Fail

Apropos of Romney claiming yet again last night that Iran is Syria’s path to the sea — it isn’t; he is confusing Iran and Iraq, and it’s not the first time he has done so.*** — here is a very funny map:

I love that Rhode Island is off the coast of Israel and West Germany.

***I mean, I guess Syria could be Iran’s path to the sea — if you ignore the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman (ignore these gulfs!), and if you ignore the Caspian Sea (it’s more of a lake!):

Mitt Romney has been making this geographically unsound claim since April.  SINCE APRIL.  Did no one on the Romney campaign think to upload Google maps to Mitt3PO’s hard drive at some point between fucking April and last night?  NO ONE?

COME ON, SON.

[cross-posted at ABLC]

85 replies
  1. 1
    👽 Martin says:

    Romney was clearly a testbed for Apple’s maps.

  2. 2
    Yutsano says:

    Heh. Israel is Trouble. That might hurt Bibi’s fee-fees.

  3. 3
    Haydnseek says:

    I can’t wait for Little Miss Calamity Jesus to tell us which country she can see from her house…

  4. 4
    Hill Dweller says:

    Maddow was so furious about the Willard campaign’s ignorance on foreign policy, she got emotional when interviewing Rather.

  5. 5
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    COME ON, SON.

    I don’t know why that just cracks me up, but it does.

  6. 6
    General Stuck says:

    It is a bit disconcerting a candidate for president isn’t up on the Persian Gulf as being the Mullah’s private beach front property. But since he became a peaceoligist and all around flower girl, maybe it don’t matter that much. Bet Mitt put a twist in Bloody Bill’s nickers with all that peace craze talk.

  7. 7
    Strontium 90 says:

    At first glance, this map gave me a mild chuckle. Upon further review, the “Vermont” and “Rhode Island” labels really got me laughing. Maybe it is the vodka.

  8. 8
    Warren Terra says:

    The Romney-conceptual map needs more Mali (did you notie how much Romney cares about Mali?).

    Also needs to reflect that Syria Is Romnesia’s Path To The Sea.

  9. 9
    JMP says:

    Now, this doesn’t mean that Romney is a total moron with no grasp of basic fourth-grade geography; it could just mean that the condescending, arrogant elitist asshole just thinks the average American is a moron with no grasp of basic fourth-grade geography who he thinks he can fool with this outrageously wrong claim. Hopefully he’s wrong.

  10. 10
    Warren Terra says:

    Also, I’m disturbed he’s been making this crazy claim since April, on two grounds:
    1) I didn’t notice it then, and would have had fun with it.
    2) I assumed Mitt’s problem was iOS6, and Apple Maps. But – unless he was running a beta version – April predates either.

    ETA your “SINCE APRIL” hyperlink is misformatted, contains an extra “http” header.
    ETA2 now that I’ve figured out how to reach it, your “SINCE APRIL” hyperlink actually demonstrates “SINCE FEBRUARY”.

  11. 11
    Haydnseek says:

    @Strontium 90: No maybe about it! Oh, +3 for those of you keeping score at home.

  12. 12
    psycholinguist says:

    Where the hell is Bali?

  13. 13
    PeakVT says:

    Was it over when the Iranians came down from the hills and laid siege to Pearl Harbor? No!

  14. 14
    The Dangerman says:

    I was hoping Obama would call him on his lack of Geographical skill…

    …as well as Romney’s claim that we have exactly 42 allies. Is his circuitry shorting out and he’s having some weird Douglas Adams flashbacks?

  15. 15
    TooManyJens says:

    Pretty sure Steve Benen said Rombot was using that line back in January. Admittedly, it would be hard to pick one particular line of ignorant bullshit out of everything that was said in the GOP primaries.

  16. 16
    Fluke bucket says:

    @Hill Dweller: Maddow was visibly upset about it on Katie Couric’s show. She was not at all amused no matter what her shoes looked like.

  17. 17
    Baud says:

    @TooManyJens:

    Well, in January, Iran and Syria were adjacent to each other. It’s not his fault they moved.

  18. 18
    Funkula says:

    Comedy map is great, but could really use a country named al Qaeda.

  19. 19
    Jack the Second says:

    On the plus side, when Romney invades Iran, there will already be US military bases everywhere, which should make it substantially cheaper.

  20. 20
    Redshift says:

    @Warren Terra:

    1) I didn’t notice it then, and would have had fun with it.

    Steve Benen was on it, that’s where I saw it at the time. I was astounded to see it return.

  21. 21
    catclub says:

    Well. IN his favor, Syria probably is the best route for Iran to have access to the Sea of Galilee.

    Which actually IS more a lake than a sea.

  22. 22
    Baud says:

    Apparently, this is an official Obama website:

    http://cavalrymenforromney.com/

  23. 23
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    My mother is a 5th grade teacher and one of her many gripes about the job is that Geography has all been written out of the curriculum. Classic answers to her ‘name X number of U.S. states’ questions have included Cuba, Canada, Paris, and (iirc) Disneyworld. Now, I’m not saying these 5th grade kids would beat Mitt Romney, Republican Nominee for President, in a geography bee. I’m just saying it would be close.

  24. 24
    aartimus says:

    Apropos of Romney claiming yet again last night that Iran is Syria’s path to the sea

    Actually, Romney said that Syria is Iran’s path to the sea.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Fluke bucket says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: agreed. When I read it I distinctly heard the voice of an old coach.

  27. 27
    beltane says:

    Republicans might think ignorance is cool but to the rest of humanity this type of stupidity is a badge of inferiority.

  28. 28
    Hill Dweller says:

    @Fluke bucket: Yeah, I saw her segment on Couric’s show.

    Tonight, on her show, Maddow was visibly angry, too. That said, near the end of the Rather interview, she started welling up before going to commercial.

    FWIW, she is on Letterman’s show tonight.

  29. 29
    👽 Martin says:

    @psycholinguist: There’s a country called Mali, which is right below Algeria. There’s a different place called Bali, which is part of Indonesia. 10 years ago there was a very significant nightclub bombing in Bali that an Al Qaeda sympathetic group claimed credit for.

    In the ‘ZOMG! I need to say something intelligent sounding that voters won’t know shit about about terrorism’, it’s appropriate to mention either Mali or Bali. Mali is the latest spot on the map in the game of Al Qaeda whack-a-mole – but the moles are getting much much smaller with each passing year, thanks to both Arab Spring and (unfortunately) drones.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Delia says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I once taught introductory world history at a state university. I think we got a lot of your mom’s former students. We eventually started giving periodic map quizzes, but even when they knew what map was going to be used on the quiz a lot of them insisted on blowing it off. Mitt seems to have the same issues.

  32. 32
    gbear says:

    @Hill Dweller: Was Rather trying to tell her how presidential that Romney looks? I can see how Maddow would pop a cork. Rather really likes Romney and it makes him look senile.

  33. 33
    👽 Martin says:

    @aartimus: Iran as Syria’s path to the sea, almost, if you turn your head just right might actually make a little sense. But not the other way around. It’s effectively impossible to slip anything past the good guys in the Mediterranean. If you can get something out into the Gulf of Oman, though, you have a much better shot at vanishing.

  34. 34
    Ash Can says:

    I’m going to say this again: I remember when it took a smaller gaffe than this to sink Gerald Ford’s campaign. And this was on top of an entirely lie-free campaign on the part of Ford. And I was campaigning for Carter at the time, and I”ll still tip my hat to Ford.

    I compare Romney’s performance last night to campaigns from years past and I just want to kick the lIvIng fuckIng goddamned shit out of that schmuck for what he’s done to the American campaign process. Seriously, he should be ashamed of himself. And anyone and everyone who votes for him should be ashamed of themselves too.

  35. 35
    👽 Martin says:

    @General Stuck: Every time a woman is raped, an angel gets its wings.

  36. 36
    PeakVT says:

    @The Dangerman: …as well as Romney’s claim that we have exactly 42 allies. Is his circuitry shorting out and he’s having some weird Douglas Adams flashbacks?

    Putting aside the erroneous implication that the other 150 or so countries that aren’t our formal allies are instead our enemies, Romney screwed that fact up, too. I count 54.

  37. 37
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gbear:

    Something happened to Rather, and it was Kkkarl Rove’s ratfucking that did it.

  38. 38
    Splitting Image says:

    You forgot Poland.

    And Czechoslovakia.

  39. 39
  40. 40
    PeakVT says:

    @General Stuck: It would would be useful to have that video go viral.

  41. 41
    Hill Dweller says:

    @gbear: No, Maddow was getting emotional about the Romney campaign being this close to the Presidency despite knowing nothing. She had done a long segment about Willard’s foreign policy ignorance, and drawing parallels with the Dubya’s administration. Rather came on afterward, but was actually OK.

    As evidenced by her book, she really cares about the military and foreign policy. I think she is sad for the country.

  42. 42
    parrot says:

    i saw this in the great film 2012 starring john cusack. it’s all in the shifting tectonic plates, which are held together by springs and pulleys. you can set your mayan calendar by this kind of geological activity.

  43. 43
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Ash Can:

    I compare Romney’s performance last night to campaigns from years past and I just want to kick the lIvIng fuckIng goddamned shit out of that schmuck for what he’s done to the American campaign process.

    This is just a public airing of the kind of bullshit merchantry that made him a very rich man, and is not limited to him alone. In a sane world, the Rmoney campaign would be the cue to dismantle most of Wall Street, and definitely the leveraged buyout business, because there is no difference between this public dissimulation and the one that took place behind closed doors.

  44. 44
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Who cares about facts? I’m sure Repubs can jimmy up a way to demonstrate that Romney’s claim is true.

  45. 45
    General Stuck says:

    @PeakVT:

    Yup, I see TPM has marquee’d it.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @aartimus:

    Aside from just looking at a fucking basic political map, if you look in detail, you’ll see that the “corridor” runs through Kurdish ethnic areas, Kurdistan, if you will. The Kurds have longstanding beefs with Iran and the Arabs (both Shiite and Sunni) of the invented state of Iraq. Also, the terrain is hardly the sort of terrain you’d pick for a corridor to the sea.

    Especially when you have an entire southern coastline that includes wide open access to the Indian Ocean.

    Now, admittedly, if Iran had designs on something like, say, Rhodes or Sicily, they’d want to get Allepo or some other port along the Med.

    But puh-leeze, excuse me while I barf at this Geography 101 FAIL of Mittens.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @aartimus:

    Aside from just looking at a fucking basic political map, if you look in detail, you’ll see that the “corridor” runs through Kurdish ethnic areas, Kurdistan, if you will. The Kurds have longstanding beefs with Iran and the Arabs (both Shiite and Sunni) of the invented state of Iraq. Also, the terrain is hardly the sort of terrain you’d pick for a corridor to the sea.

    Especially when you have an entire southern coastline that includes wide open access to the Indian Ocean.

    Now, admittedly, if Iran had designs on something like, say, Rhodes or Sicily, they’d want to get Allepo or some other port along the Med.

    But puh-leeze, excuse me while I barf at this Geography 101 FAIL of Mittens.

  48. 48

    Oh, lordie. I wrote about this today, as well, but I just assumed this was Romnesia wishing to wipe away all memory of Iraq (because, what Republican wouldn’t?). I had no idea he’s been making that ludicrous claim since APRIL.

    Jesus. And no one called him on it until he said it outside the bubble? With all of those neocons on his team? That just explains so much.

  49. 49
    👽 Martin says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Aside from just looking at a fucking basic political map, if you look in detail, you’ll see that the “corridor” runs through Kurdish ethnic areas, Kurdistan, if you will. The Kurds have longstanding beefs with Iran and the Arabs (both Shiite and Sunni) of the invented state of Iraq.

    Are you trying to suggest that there are different shades of brown people? Because it’s accepted science here that all people of the same shade are otherwise identical in intent. There’s no difference between mexicans, cubans, kurds, and pashtuns. They’re completely fungible.

  50. 50

    Oh my God. It’s worse than we thought. He’s been saying this since February. Not April. February!

  51. 51
    Mark S. says:

    So, once again, Mitt was right.

    National Review, now officially stupider than Townhall.

    (You’ve really got to see how stupid it really is.)

  52. 52
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @👽 Martin:

    I knew that Ben Kingsley was up to no good!

  53. 53
    beltane says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Are you trying to suggest that there are different shades of brown people? Because it’s accepted science here that all people of the same shade are otherwise identical in intent. There’s no difference between mexicans, cubans, kurds, and pashtuns. They’re completely fungible.

    That’s really what it all boils down to. These are all half-human, subject peoples in the eyes of Mittbot & Co. I don’t think they even rate posthumous baptism in his mind.

  54. 54
    JWR says:

    Glenn Kessler claims this doesn’t merit a Pinocchio, as these sorts of things are to be expected from geopolitical novices and should maybe have its own “weird language” category. I’d say ignorance on such a scale should definitely have a category. We can call it the “Not Ready To Be President” category.

  55. 55
    PeakVT says:

    @General Stuck: 217 article hits on GNews already. I think the incident might have reached viral status already.

  56. 56
    Ted says:

    Why does that map have East and West Germany? How about using an up to date map

  57. 57
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Maps are made by geographers
    Geographers are scientists
    Science is the work of the devil

    Also, too, math is magic!

  58. 58
    Mark S. says:

    @JWR:

    He has a point. President of the United States is kind of like heart surgeon or air traffic controller where it’s acceptable to learn on the job.

    Besides, Bill Kristol is always a phone call away.

  59. 59
    cckids says:

    @gbear:

    Rather really likes Romney and it makes him look senile.

    I’m not sure how much he likes him, but he seems to think that Romney is an awesome candidate & very “formidable”. I have no idea why.

  60. 60
    dance around in your bones says:

    I love the two Afghanistan’s (or maybe Pakistan)separated by ‘The Iron Curtain’ (since we all know the Soviet Union still exists in Mitt’s “mind”.

  61. 61
    Mike G says:

    Did no one on the Romney campaign think to upload Google maps to Mitt3PO’s hard drive at some point between fucking April and last night?

    If he’s like most corporate executive assholes, he punishes people who dare to correct his self-serving fantasies with reality. Because it’s never about truth with these scum, it’s about Authority, and his lessers are fit only to grovel before his self-made facts.

    It’s why the Chimp Assministration consistently made such disastrous decisions, and arrogance-and-ignorance Rmoney assministration would do the same. They only know how to grab power, not seek truth.

  62. 62
    jurassicpork says:

    Last night’s presidential debate was just so much black and white noise. But, yeah, Romney’s foreign policy people are old holdovers from the Bush junta so does this level of geography really surprise anyone?

  63. 63
    Chris says:

    @Mark S.:

    I have to give props to virtually every National Review commenter in that article for pointing out how fucking stupid the argument makes.

    It’s not often that the comments section is smarter than the original post, but this is one of them.

  64. 64
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Not to be a douche, or anything, but where did you get those maps? It would be nice to give the creators credit. And if you made them, kudos.

  65. 65
    Mark S. says:

    @Chris:

    National Review used to make you buy like a three year subscription to comment there. I bet they re-institute that.

  66. 66
    Chris says:

    @Mark S.:

    Sweet Jesus –

    Look, candidates misspeak. It happens. It’s not necessarily a sign of true stupidity. But there’s something pathetically cultish about the number of Republicans who, whenever their idol misspeaks, feel the need to rush online and say that the misstatement was TOTALLY a very profound truth and that those stupid fucking liberal fact-checkers are totally exposing their own stupidity by refusing to see the obvious truth.

    Something they did after every one of Sarah Palin’s idiocies. “Paul Revere DID warn the British!” “She DOES TOO command the Air National Guard!” Etc.

  67. 67
    El Cid says:

    DON’T FORGET ABOUT NORTHERN MALI!

  68. 68
    MikeJ says:

    @Baud:

    Apparently, this is an official Obama website:

    No. The guy who registered it is one of the Cards Against Humanity guys. His site is http://maxistentialism.com/

    And now that I look at his site, he’s working for Obama. So I guess they did have something to do with it, but I’ll bet not officially.

  69. 69
    Ash Can says:

    Seriously. One of the two major-party candidates shirts the bed all over the place on foreign affairs, and nobody bats an eye. I don’t blame Rachel Maddow In the least for getting upset about this. She wants to see this country do well. And so do I — I busted my ass for six years to get a graduate degree in foreign studies. And hey, whaddya know, It turns out that you can get elected to the highest office in the land nowadays even if you can’t find your own fucking country on a map. A sad end to a nation that had so much potential when I was a kid.

    Ok, I”ve had a few drinks tonight and I’m getting maudlin. But Maddow’s reaction to this really hit a nerve for me.

  70. 70
    El Cid says:

    How dare you people mock Sarah Palin, the Commander In Chief of the Alaska National Guard.

    As governor of Alaska, Palin is briefed on highly classified military issues, homeland security, and counterterrorism. Her exposure to classified material may rival even Biden’s.
    __
    She’s also the commander in chief of the Alaska State Defense Force (ASDF), a federally recognized militia incorporated into Homeland Security’s counterterrorism plans.
    __
    Palin is privy to military and intelligence secrets that are vital to the entire country’s defense. Given Alaska’s proximity to Russia, she may have security clearances we don’t even know about.
    __
    According to the Washington Post, she first met with McCain in February, but nobody ever found out. This is a woman used to keeping secrets.
    __
    She can be entrusted with our national security, because she already is.

  71. 71
    El Cid says:

    @Ash Can: Republicans benefit from the Tyranny of Low Expectations, Media Edition.

  72. 72
    bcinaz says:

    Thank You!!! Made me laugh out loud.

  73. 73
    JWR says:

    @Mark S.: I get your point about the learning on the job stuff, and I accept that as valid. But doesn’t it seem odd that when it comes to the country Romney practically obsesses over, he can’t be bothered to remember what it looks like on a map? It just bothers me, is all.

  74. 74
    Peter says:

    Secret tunnel!

    Secret tunnel!

    Secret secret secret secret tunnelllllllllll!

  75. 75
    AWJ says:

    Has anyone pointed out that during the Cold War Syria was a Soviet ally and was, in fact, the USSR’s “route to the (Mediterranean) Sea”? There’s still a Russian naval base in Tartus, Syria.

    It’s quite possible that Romney was recalling a dimly-remembered Cold War talking point and simply substituting Iran for the USSR like a Mad Lib…

  76. 76
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @AWJ:

    Well, Syria was the Soviet Union’s “route to the Med” pretty much the same way that India was their “route to the Indian Ocean”. The minor problems of having to cross the territory of Turkey (to get to Syria) and Afghanistan and Pakistan (to get to India) we leave to the imaginations of the astute reader to resolve.

  77. 77
    PeakVT says:

    @AWJ: It wasn’t really the USSR’s “route” per say as without both Iran and Iraq being friendly, there was no land route from the USSR to Syria. Instead, it was a place to park and resupply Soviet boats south of the Dardanelles. A base in Vietnam served much the same purpose for many years.

  78. 78
    Citizen_X says:

    @JWR: Um,

    President of the United States is kind of like heart surgeon or air traffic controller where it’s acceptable to learn on the job.

    The snark detector: I think it needs calibrating.

  79. 79
    JWR says:

    @Citizen_X: I stand corrected. And boy, is my face red. ;-)

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Perspecticus says:

    My concern is, and everyone’s should be, that somebody searching Google images will find your fake map, not understand it is fake (or know it’s fake), use it, and within 2 years, half our country will believe the fake map to be an actual representation of that part of the world.

  82. 82
    blingee says:

    Geography is a liberal plot.

  83. 83
    Jado says:

    Why is this minor error important to you?

    THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES!!!

    Politicians (ESPECIALLY republicans) can say whatever they want, and no one in the media calls them a liar. Well, except for those “opinion” shows, but everyone knows how partisan they are.

    NO corporately-owned media company will come out and declare the facts. Even the “fact-checkers” have been tarred with the partisan brush. And we watch with disinterested amusement as the political world spins itself into destruction.

  84. 84
    feckless says:

    Should it be disqualifying if you want to start a war w a country you can’t find on a map?

  85. 85
    Michael Davison says:

    When Romney said that Syria was Iran’s “route to the sea” – he was absolutely correct!

    Romney’s comment is not about geography – it’s about sanction-driven trade route realities. He’s not commenting on how people in Iran wake up on a hot day and walk to the beach, he’s commenting on how Iran is conducting trade currently, based on the fact that its own seaports get blocked as a result of the sanctions.

    This is no gaffe. This is not a case of Romney being ignorant of geography, it’s a case of the so-called “fact checkers” ignoring the context of his comments, and being ignorant of the trade routes now being used as by Iran as a result of sanctions.

    Romney was speaking in the context of the debate topic on foreign policy and the sanctions restricting the finances and trade of Iran. Although Iran is indeed located on the seacoast of the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, the international trade sanctions have restricted and impeded its ability to transport armaments and other goods through its own seaports. To defeat these trade sanctions, Iran has resorted to using its air transportation to transport goods through an air corridor in Iraqi airspace into Syria and its seaports, such as Latakia.

    Romney has made his “route to the sea” comment before, gotten “fact checked” on it, and went on to use it several more times before this debate – so you’d think this might give folks cause to re-think their geographically-hyper-focused critique of this comment. Wrong and or incomplete analysis by fact checkers on minor inconsequential issues like this is why they are losing credibility with the public, and why the Romney camp generally ignores them.

    I will say that there are many valid reasons to find fault with both candidates – this just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

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