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.