Romney's pitch: Obama is a 'European' leader

There was not much about foreign policy in Mitt Romney's official announcement of his candidacy today. He suggested that the president has been "hesitant" about supporting the Middle East's revolutions and picked up on the "leading from behind" theme. (You have to wonder if whatever White House staffer suggested "leading from behind" to the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza realized they were scripting every GOP candidate's first ad.) He also mentioned that the president had "traveled around the world to apologize for America" and had a zinger about the proposed U.S. withdrawal date from Afghanistan: "The Taliban may not have watches, but they have calendars."

Oddly, the region that got the most play in the short section on foreign affairs was not the Middle East, Central Asia, or China, but Europe. To his credit, Romney has avoided throwing in his lot with members of his party who have openly questioned President Obama's citizenship or religion, but the former Massachusetts governor did repeatedly suggest that there's a certain Continental flavor to the president's leadership style.

He suggested that the president takes his cues and values not from the small towns of America, but from the "capitals of Europe." He said that Obama was proposing "European answers to American problems" and was treating Israel the way European countries do, with "suspicion and distrust."

At our recent Shadow Government event here at FP, the panelists suggested that a major challenge for the GOP field would be to make the case that Obama has made the country weaker and accepted the narrative of "American decline," without pandering to extremists who see him as not only un-American but anti-American.

Romney's solution seems to be the label of "European," which, for the American electorate, carries the twin connotations of timidity in foreign affairs and socialist economic policies. (Though the stereotype also feels a little dated given that Western Europe's major powers are, for the most part, currently ruled by conservative governments whose passion for austerity budgets is tempered only by their enthusiasm for bombing North Africa.)

The European attack may be a good way to play to the Republican base in the primary, but I wonder about it as a long-term strategy. American voters may feel threatened by terrorists from the Middle East, insurgents from Central Asia, illegal immigrants from Mexico, and workers from China. I'm not sure bureaucrats from Brussels pack the same rhetorical punch. We'll see.

J.D. Pooley/Getty Images


Chinese teenager sells kidney for an iPad 2

I'm sure Angry Birds must be twice as awesome on the bigger screen, but this still seems extreme:

A teenager in Huaishan, Anhui Province has sold one of his kidneys to buy an iPad2 tablet computer, as reported by SZTV on June 1.

The 17-year-old man surnamed Zheng, a freshman in high school, got connected with a kidney-selling agent through the internet, who pledged to pay him 20,000 yuan ($3,084.45 ) for one of his kidneys.

On April 28 of this year, Zheng went to Chenzhou, Hunan Province to have his kidney removed under the supervision of three so-called middlemen, and received 22,000 yuan ($3,392.97). Then he returned home with a laptop and an iPhone.

Zheng's mother discovered her son's new electronic products and forced him to reveal how he came to afford them. Then she took Zheng to Chenzhou and reported the matter to local police. The three agents' telephones have not been answered since that time.

Be sure to check out Scott Carney's new piece on the rise of the "red market" and why "no society has had as insatiable an appetite for human flesh as the developed world of the 21st century."

Putting aside the fact that Zheng is underage, broke the law, and is (seemingly) a moron, the ethical questions surrounding the organ market are not so simple. What if Zheng were a consenting adult rather than a teenager and looking to start a small business or move his family into a nicer home rather than pick up the latest toys from Cupertino?

Carney writes that the fundamental question surrounding the human-organ supply chain is "at what point is one person entitled to use the flesh of another?" That's a good question, but so is whether a person should be denied an economic opportunity -- and perhaps save a life in the process -- because the idea of buying and selling human flesh makes us queasy? It's an uncomfortable subject, but an increasingly relevant one.