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Romney blew it


It’s sad that our undecided voters in swing states might make their decision based on a few minutes or even a single line in a so-called debate, but that may have happened last night and Romney blew it. The only question I have on Romney’s wobble is why? 

The heart of conservative assaults on Obama’s foreign policy has been the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, where four Americans lost their lives. Romney stumbled badly out of the gate on this, but over the ensuing weeks a right wing narrative has emerged that went something like this: Obama did not call the attacks a terrorist incident fast enough and forcefully enough, this is evidence of a cover up, and the cover up is evidence that Obama’s entire Middle East and terrorism foreign policy is a disaster on the verge of throwing Israel to the wolves, giving Iran the bomb, and making America weak.

It’s a non sequitur “argument,” but this politics after all and Romney is the lie-inest liar to seek the Oval Office in generations. Those gaping chasms of logic and cause and effect aren’t filled by laughably absurd claims that occasionally stray into the bizzare, those gaps are filled by truthinesses that permanently reside in bizzaro world. Various colorful subthemes run rampant in the fevered swamp of wingnut imagination to explain why he “wouldn’t call it an act of terror,” from evil mastermind Manchurian/Kenyan mole Obama in league with Al Qaeda to bumbling effeminate Obama hoping to turn innocent children gay in public schools.

Last night, when those attacks came up in the debate, Romney tried to launch the well worn fantasy by claiming Obama did not refer to the attack as terrorism for two weeks, what happened next sealed the challenger’s fate for the evening:

TPM– In fact, on the morning after the attack, Obama addressed the nation from the Rose Garden and said, “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.”

Both Obama and debate moderator Candy Crowley brought this to Romney’s attention. “He did in fact, sir, call it an act of terror,” Crowley said.

“Can you say that a little louder, Candy?” Obama joked. “He did call it an act of terror,” Crowley repeated.

At which point the whole room laughed uproariously at Romney’s expense and that was it. That’s the soundbite that will be replayed all week, with the election only two and a half weeks away, with Obama holding a slim but firm lead. That’s the soundite that may have sunk his budding comeback after the first debate.

Why would Romney not only say that, but judging by the video, say it with absolute certainty even though it wasn’t true and could be easily fact checked by his staff? I would propose what I and others have been saying all season, Romney has repeated the lie so many times and has heard others say it so often, that he internalized it as a fact that every else ‘knows to be true’. And that’s what screwed him.


  1. says

    NONE of the Republicans had jack shit to say about the Arab Spring (Islamist Winter?) uprisings until a few Americans got killed in it — they were too busy demonizing women and screaming about Obama’s birth certificate. And instead of trying to say something thoughtful about a seismic shift in a very significant part of the world, all they could do was use it for purely partisan gain — and they couldn’t even get that right! That tells us all we need to know about Republicans’ understanding of foreign affairs.

    I guess they just figured this was another case of “global climate change” they couldn’t talk about.

  2. dean says

    I’m not sure that he believes it, but he does know that no matter what the records show his supporters will believe it. The distrust (and, to be honest, fundamental hatred) of President Obama by Governor Romney’s supporters seems to know no bounds, resulting in a sub-population of voters that are so wired in myth (the “socialist, Kenyan-born, Nazi” group) and conspiracy (illegitimate president group) that anything contradicting their view has to be due to left-wing manipulation. It’s the same positioning that allows the Romney/Ryan campaign to continue claiming that “six independent studies show our economic plan will work”, when it’s been repeatedly pointed out that there haven’t been six studies.

    Short, easily expressed, targeted lies plus deep-seated hatred will top facts every time.

  3. says

    It could be that Romney and camp believe that if everything, and I mean everything, you say is a lie, and if you saturate your audience with those lies, even knowing full well that the audiences know you are lieing, a time will come when they think, “no human could possibly be so blatant and consistent a liar for so long. Maybe he his telling the truth?” And if the lies are lies the audience wants to hear, then all the better.

  4. says

    Lies can certainly work. But they can also backfire, this is case where they backfired. Romney doesn’t need support on the right to win, he absolutely has to make up a few points in key swing states with the handful of remaining undecided voters and hopes Obama’s ground game can’t deliver fully. He has to win this next one to have a solid chance of that, whatever win means in these weird adult cut down fights we call debates.

  5. The Lorax says

    What I find most interesting is that the people who are self-described comedians are often more accurate than the politicians. Let me take you back in time to when the Colbert Report first spread its red, white, and blue wings, and introduced the nation to the idea of truthiness.

    Skip ahead a few years. What do we see? Truthiness. It’s not just a joke, it’s a real thing: these people believe in something so strongly that, to them, it’s the truth. It doesn’t matter if it is, in fact, false; their gut says there’s a truthiness to it, and that’s good enough for them.

  6. Alverant says

    Romny had this look, “How can I be wrong?” when he was corrected as if the idea that he could possibly be wrong never occured to him. If he’s elected he’ll be an even bigger arrogant jerk than W.

  7. says

    Yeap, he was shocked. He had rehearsed this under the premise it was completely accurate. There is some ass chewing and carpet crawling at the senior levels going on right now over at Team Romney. One of the reasons it was so damaging is Obama’s entire thrust all night had been “Mr Romney that’s just not true, here’s the facts …” And then, boom he got caught flat footed and panicked in a whopper. I have a friend that’s a lawyer (R-For Life) and he’s whining and moaning this morning that that’s a textbook technique to influence a jury regardless of the facts of the case over all. Soemone who can’t speak English, judging solely by facial expression and body language and crowd response, could watch that short clip and have a good idea exactly what happened.

  8. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    I don’t think it’s accurate to say that Romney blew it. He only did what he’s been doing all along. I think it’s better to say that Obama finally called Romney on the bs. Romney’s performance wasn’t worse, Obama’s was better.

    About time. As many have already noted, this is what we should have seen in debate #1.

  9. roggg says

    @#3: This is really the heart of why Obama lost the first debate. The republican campaign is based around the concept that repeating the same set of lies often enough creates an impression in the minds of listeners. Obama didn’t stand up to the lies in the first debate and justifiably took a lot of criticism for letting Romney spout his talking points unopposed. I like what POTUS did last night in calling Romney out on it, and I think it probably left an impression on undecideds that maybe Romney has been playing fast and loose with the facts.

  10. says

    Binder’s full is not helping Romney, even Fox had to report it. We’re winning the day more often than not in social media, even though the right has made siginificant investments in it. The social media-scape is inhabited by, on average, younger and more engaged voters, which favors the younger generations and the more informed voters, and that’s a challenge Romney and the GOP are forced to reckon with.

  11. busterggi says

    “The only question I have on Romney’s wobble is why? ”

    Please, leave the Wobblies out of this.

  12. says

    Not to go Godwin, but watching Romney in this election cycle, and indeed much of the GOP for the entirety of Obama’s term, I am reminded of a pair of quotes from Hitler.

    “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.”

    “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

    Both of these quotes seem to summarize the Republician strategy of late. After all, he heard about Obama being a socialist-Kenyian-Marxist during the general election cycle in 2008 and that meme continues to go the rounds in the GOP and especially the Teaparty crowds. Now there’s this notion that by cutting the defense budget back to what it was pre-9/11 somehow Obama is out to destroy the country by leaving it weak and open to foreign threats. And how often have we heard about Obama’s supposed apology tour that he made when he first took off and how he continues to apologize for the US?

  13. says

    I don’t think Romney blew it in the sense that it’d hurt him all that much. Obama did better than he did at the last debate, and Romney was slightly worse.

    The Benghazi fuckup, for e.g., does not matter for the undecided swing state voter. It is a minor issue not a problem

    Obama scores heavily on foreign policy, and it is evident because Benghazi and specifically “when did Obama say it was an act of terror?” is how small the box is.

    The main problem is and has been personal finances. Romney scored well on that front again. Obama scored on the social issues, immigration, and his closing argument, but I am not sure it makes that much of a difference.

    Here’s how I saw it :

  14. says

    I find it impossible to know what Romney actually believes. His entire campaign strategy has been to say anything at any given moment that he thinks will help him. In last night’s debate, he said that, as president, he would create 12 million jobs. Then, less than 1/2 an hour later, he repeated the mantra, “Government doesn’t create jobs” no less than three times.

    Whether he really believes that Obama didn’t call the attack an act of terror is almost irrelevant. What matters is that he expected everyone, including Crowley, to just accept the new reality as fact without question.

    And he isn’t alone. Liberals and conservatives have always disagreed on policy matters, but at least they agreed that they had to work within the same common reality. That isn’t the case any more.

  15. F says

    Binder’s full is not helping Romney,

    No, it is doing exactly the opposite of that, and is an overnight meme sensation. I was attempting to proactively leverage the utilization of sarcasm in the previous post.

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