Mitt Romney’s Presidential Hopes, Going, Going …. GONE
Since the Republican convention and people’s amazement that in his acceptance speech, Romney — who appears so eager to start a war with Iran that would make Iraq and Afghanistan look like a fist fight between two 8-year olds — did not mention Afghanistan or the troops fighting there, his campaign has gone into a nose dive. And each time I started to write about it, it seemed like Romney took aim at his foot yet again.
Whatever you may think of the war or America’s worshipfu attitude toward all things military, this was a major political gaffe. It could have been survivable since against all odds and evidence, Republicans have managed to image themselves as the manly party of all things military and security-related.
But on Sunday, I started to see posts and emails claiming that Romney on Meet the Press had defended himself by saying his speech wasn’t a “laundry list” and that he only talked about what was “important.”
He couldn’t possibly, I thought. If a Democrat had said that, he’d be conceding the race, and honestly, it’s the sort of thing that could even kill off Republican election hopes. I figured it must have been taken out of context, the way Hillary Rosen’s remark about Ann Romney never working was, or the entire Republican “You built that” convention theme, lying that President Obama had said business owners didn’t build their own businesses.
So I looked it up.
Here’s the full context of what Romney said,
When you give a speech, you don’t go through a laundry list. You talk about the things you think are important, and I described in my speech my commitment to a strong military, unlike the president’s decision to cut our military. I didn’t use the word ‘troops,’ I used the word ‘military.’ I think they refer to the same thing.
In a way, that’s even worse. “Military” and “troops” are NOT the same thing, especially given the reference to President Obama’s “decision to cut our military.” When Romney — and most Republicans — refer to “military” in the context of spending, they are referring to defense contractors, not to the guys and gals in the trenches.
And Romney followed that up with a vivid demonstration that he didn’t mean actual TROOPS when he floated the idea that the VA could be turned into a voucher system. That would force veterans to go scrambling out on the private market not just to find care but to find care providers with expertise in their specific problems — something the VA is focused on. It’s a lousy idea for seniors. It’s an outrageously cruel idea for veterans.
I was just ready to write about this when yesterday happened.
The Romney gaffe machine started a little slow with Mitt breaking an informal agreement not to politicize the anniversary of 9/11. But after a tragic assault on the U.S. Embassy in Libya (motivated by a ghastly movie produced by an anti-Muslim “Christian” pastor in Florida) that killed the ambassador there, the gaffemobile got stuck in overdrive and went careening off the cliff.
Romney thought this was a good time to attack President Obama’s response to the situation — based on very early, and as it turned out, incorrect information.
Among other things, he said,
It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
Except he didn’t. How Romney twisted around remarks made by embassy staff (remarks he himself repeated later in the day!) is convoluted. But as we know from 9/11, when this country is being attacked, it’s considered not just bad form but virtually un-American not to pull together and back our President. To attack his response when you have no idea what is going on yet makes you look like a craven, callow clown. And that is exactly what Mitt Romney looked like today.
To say this went over like a lead balloon is to radically understate what happened. Liberal pundit Jed Lewison called his press conference “a smirking disaster.”
Republican pundit and Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan said, “"I don't feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors in the past few hours.”
Most Republican leaders, including Romney’s own running mate Paul Ryan, have pointedly avoided attacking Obama. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who once said his #1 goal was to assure that Obama was a one-term President regardless of the damage done to the country, said the President reacted correctly. And John McCain tweeted, “Just watched an excellent and moving stmt by Sec. Clinton- just the right message and tone.”
Already, there’s uneasiness out there even in conservative circles about the Romney/Ryan ticket’s lack of foreign policy experience and savvy – the least of any ticket in decades. Romney has dismissed foreign policy as unimportant, saying the public only cares about the economy. Maybe so — until we’re attacked.
Romney’s clumsiness has probably fatally undermined that supposed Republican strength in the area of “keeping us safe.” But his ham-handed response to this crisis, attempting to score manly, tough-guy points off a tragedy in an area in which he’s completely over his head, has probably assured that President Obama will be re-elected.
Oh — and President Obama's response?
There's a broader lesson to be learned here: Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later and as president one of the things I've learned is you can't do that," Obama told CBS News on Wednesday."It's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them.