A funny thing happened yesterday. After six years of Olympic-sized complaining, the British suddenly learned how to stop worrying and love the Games. And all it took was one gaffe-prone American and his rather large mouth.

Mitt Romney, on his first foreign outing as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, managed to do something games organizers, David Cameron and £9 billion in public money has so far failed to achieve... unity. Speaking about his hosts' ability to stage the games, Romney managed to foul up even the softest of softball questions.

When asked by NBC's Brian Williams if Britain was ready, Romney replied: "There are a few things that were disconcerting."

"The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials - that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

And, sin of sins, he even questioned the British resolve to stage the greatest show on Earth. "Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment? That's something which we only find out once the Games actually begin," he added.

Well done Mitt. You simultaneously managed to offend and unite an entire nation.

"Seriously, some Americans just shouldn't leave the country," the Guardian reported Carl Lewis, that titan of Olympic achievement, as saying in response to the comments.

I disagree.

Mitt has done Britain a great service. After months of negative headlines, doubts about the benefit of the games and, in the last couple of weeks, a growing shambles surrounding the security situation, Romney has managed to unite politician and subject alike under the Olympic banner.

Boris Johnson, the comically coiffured, and gaffe-prone himself, Mayor of London, kicked off the fight-back only hours after Mitt's ill-chosen words, revving up an expectant crowd in a packed Hyde Park.

"The Geiger counter of Olympo-mania is going to go zoink off the scale," Johnson began, rather awkwardly.

"People are coming from around the world, and they're seeing us...they're seeing the greatest country on Earth."

"There are some people who are coming from around the world who don't yet know about all the preparations we've done to get London ready in the last seven years. I hear there's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know whether we're ready. Are we ready?" Cue roaring crowd.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who himself became a laughingstock after hitting a woman on the head with a flying bell (the video is priceless), also upped the jingoistic, Yank-baiting rhetoric.

"When we have the opening ceremony tonight and we tell the world that eight of the world's top 10 sports were either invented or codified in Britain - and only two in America," he said,  "I hope Mr Romney is watching."

The papers quickly followed suit. After weeks of scandal laden, games-bashing stories, the Sun blared "Mitt the Twitt:  Wannabe US President Romney in Games insult, but David Cameron insists: We'll show you."

The Daily Mail, previously a bastion of Olympic complaint, offered its own lusty retort: "Are we ready? Yes we are!' London Mayor Boris Johnson attacks U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney as he issues Olympics rallying cry to 60,000 at Hyde Park"

Romney, bless him, got suckered into that peculiarly British contradiction of active public apathy masking private excitement.

He also probably doesn't know that, on the whole, the British don't take to large, showpiece events at the start.

With the abject failure that was the Millennium Dome still looming large in the collective consciousness, we are deeply suspicious of monuments to greatness or celebration. We automatically assume they will become the next great, money-gobbling white elephant.

But while complaining is a national pastime and self-doubt a national curse, the British are fiercely protective of national pride.

So, once again, jolly well done Mitt. You managed to make even our most blunder-prone public figures look great. Please, please stay and, if you wouldn't mind, there's a whole list of problems I'd love to direct your mobilizing criticism towards.