Wednesday, October 17, 2012


So the supporters of the breathtakingly dishonest Romney campaign -- a campaign that, to take just one example, was structured for weeks and weeks around a willful distortion of President Obama's "You didn't build that" reference to public infrastructure -- now want to spend several days finely parsing President Obama's words on Benghazi on September 12?

This is from National Review:
President Obama claimed tonight that he called the Benghazi attack an act of terror the day after it occurred, in the Rose Garden....

But here are his remarks....

His only mention of “terror”:
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.
One could take that as a reference to acts which include the tragedy in Benghazi, obviously, but there was clearly no effort made to label it an act of terrorism.
Did Obama not directly refer to the Benghazi attack as an act of terror on 9/12? Sure, it was hedging language. He didn't say, in so many words, that the attack was terrorism. But he put the word on the table. The GOP narrative, then and now, has been that he and others in his administration initially said, in effect, "Merciful heavens, this couldn't possibly have been terrorism!" And that's clearly not true.

Obama, in last night's debate, said this:
The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.
Candy Crowley backed his account. And right-wingers are flipping out. (NewsBusters: "Candy Crowley Disgraces Herself With Outrageous Tagteam Hit on Romney Over Libya." Fox Nation: "Debate Moderator Dives in the Tank For Obama." The Washington Times: "Crowley Skews Hard for Obama in Disastrous Debate.")

Really, guys? Are you really going to spend at least one entire news cycle, and possibly several, trying to say your guy lost because of the debate moderator? On a nuance issue? Was there anything preventing Mitt Romney from explaining the nuance here, in a calm, rational way -- anything apart from his natural rage and sense of entitlement, which he wasn't able to suppress last night as effectively as he did in the first debate?

Over the weekend I mentioned John Silber, another angry Massachusetts right-winger, now deceased. Silber failed in a bid to become the state's governor -- and as a commenter noted, Dilber did so in part because he got snarly with a TV reporter:
In a key interview late in the campaign, Silber was asked by WCVB-TV newscaster Natalie Jacobson to name his weaknesses, and he lost his composure and snarled back that finding his weaknesses was her job, and he did not need to list them for her. After this performance, Silber's poll numbers declined rapidly.
I'm rooting for Romney's supporters not to let this go for days -- they have the potential to turn this into a slow-motion Natalie Jacobson situation. At the very least, they'll be hammering away at the lack of reference to terror when Obama clearly referred to terror on 9/12 (and again on 9/13, by the way) -- and the fine nuance of how he used the word will be lost on the non-Fox-watching public. It won't work.

My dream scenario -- which I think is plausible -- is that Romney will go into next week's foreign policy debate still pissed off about this, and he'll want to relitigate it in that angry, legalistic, sputtering, self-righteous tone he used to argue this and so many other things last night.

If so, advantage Obama.

(National Review and Politico links via Memeorandum.)


Philo Vaihinger said...

Candy was strictly wrong, just as you say.

But it stopped Mitt in his tracks, confused him and apparently most of the known world, and prevented Mitt from charging ahead with the by now standard accusation that the administration was seeking to deflect attention from both their failure to adequately prepare for an expected attack and the evident falsehood of claims that al-Qaeda is on the ropes.

Charges with more than a little bite, I'm afraid.

Chalk up a big one to luck, unless Ms. Crawford was just intentionally lying.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Oh, btw. Takes a lot of nerve for the party of George W Bush to accuse anybody of not being adequately prepared to deal with terrorism, doesn't it?

Philo Vaihinger said...

Or, for that matter, of not properly finishing off al-Qaeda.

Victor said...

If your candidate didn't clearly win, and then you proceed to whine about the moderator, then you're telling people that you lost.