Thursday Reads: The Campaign That Can’t Shoot StraightPosted: September 13, 2012 | |
After watching Mitt Romney’s undignified behavior in horror yesterday morning, and thinking about it for much of the day, I finally came to the conclusion that Romney is a spoiled teenager in an adult man’s body.
This man has been cosseted and catered to throughout his life. Everything has been handed to him on a silver platter–early on because of his father’s money, power, and influence and later because he was a wealthy and powerful CEO who could shout orders and expect instant obedience.
It has been evident to me for a long time that Romney is still the same bully who rounded up a group of classmates to hold down a younger student whose clothing and hair had drawn Romney’s disapproval and cut his long hair off. His wife and children have frequently talked about how he still loves to play “practical jokes” and “pranks” on family and friends. I honestly don’t think Romney has matured emotionally since those high school days.
As far as we know, Romney has never faced a serious life problem except for a car accident he got into in France while he was on his Mormon mission there. Yes, his wife Ann has had serious health problems, but I’m not sure Mitt has enough empathy for that to affect him personally.
In my opinion one of the most important ways people grow emotionally is by going through serious problems. But even after that accident, Romney didn’t have to do much. His father sent people over to handle the situation and bring Mitt back home. Although a woman was killed in the accident, and Romney was driving, he apparently never even contacted the woman’s family to offer condolences. So the main challenge Romney faced was simply to recover physically. When his wife Ann was sick, Mitt had all the money in the world to make sure she had the finest health care.
Romney’s behavior on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning suggests to me that he has an even more serious problem than his obvious emotional immaturity. He seems unable to inhibit his impulses and delay gratification, at least in the context of the presidential campaign. We saw this play out over the past two days in his gleeful reaction to the tragic events in Libya, treating them as an opportunity to launch political attacks on the Obama administration.
On Tuesday night Romney’s staff e-mailed a statement to news organizations, but told them to embargo it until after midnight, presumably to avoid a negative attack on 9/11. But a short time later, the campaign removed the embargo and told the media to release it. The statement was issued around 11PM, before Romney knew what had actually happened. Did Romney himself make these decisions on his own because he just couldn’t wait to get his nasty message out? Here’s the gist of the first statement.
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said in the statement. “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.”
This attack was based on a statement issued by the American Embassy in Cairo in an attempt to prevent protests that happened a few hours later. Here is the statement.
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
According to Politico, the State Department tried to dissuade embassy officials from releasing the statement, but they went ahead and did it, probably hoping to stave off an attack like the one that happened later in Libya.
Again on Wednesday morning Romney quickly arranged a press conference in order to get his message out before President Obama spoke. By this time, Romney knew that the the American ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens had been murdered, along with three other embassy employees. But instead of changing course, he continued the same attack on President Obama that he had begun the night before, claiming that somehow the statement from the Cairo embassy demonstrated that Obama was “apologizing for American values.”
You can read the full transcript of the press conference here. The gist of Romney’s attack:
America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We’ll defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion.
We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.
I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions. It’s never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values.
The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn’t cleared by Washington. That reflects the mixed signals they’re sending to the world.
The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, American cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don’t spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests.
What did Romney think he would gain from these false and undignified attacks during a time of national crisis? Why couldn’t he wait a few days for events to play out and then attack if it made sense? I think it is because Romney just doesn’t have and adult ability to control his impulses. We’ve seen this again and again, particularly on his disastrous trip to Europe. He simply says whatever comes into his head, with seemingly no ability to adjust his words to what is appropriate to a situation–or even to stick to basic facts.
Michael Cohen of the New York Daily News asks rhetorically:
Within hours of finding out that a U.S. ambassador was killed in the line of duty, Romney is engaging in a rather naked and blatant political attack against the President. It’s the type of criticism you might expect from a pundit or a back-bencher in Congress, not from a man who aspires to be President of the United States. It makes Romney look small and inclined to put politics ahead of the national interest. It is the equivalent of John McCain’s suspension of his 2008 campaign during the financial crisis and should be treated as such.
But aside from the politics of this, what does it say about a candidate who would issue a statement based on incomplete information and then double down on it even after it’s been disproven? What does it say about a candidate who actually accuses the President of openly siding with those who would harm U.S. diplomats? What does it say about a candidate who would, in a moment of grief over the death of U.S. personnel serving overseas, take the opportunity to cravenly engage in a dishonest political attack?
What it says to me is that this is a man who simply is not up to the awesome responsibilities of being President of the United States.
I’ve thought that for a long time. Now the mainstream media is beginning to understand how disastrous it would be if Romney managed to win the election and become president. A president needs to be able to stop and think before talking or taking action. Romney is apparently incapable of that level of self-control. as a child and young man, he had all his needs met by others. As an adult, he has been accustomed to issuing orders and having them followed immediately by “the help.”
Quite simply, Romney is temperamentally unsuited to the presidency. As a nominee of a major party Romney will soon receive intelligence briefings. Can he be trusted with such confidential information? Remember when he was in Great Britain and he revealed that he had had a secret briefing with MI6?
Fortunately, it looks like Romney has destroyed his credibility with the media, and he isn’t likely to recover it. He’s falling behind Obama in the polls, and unless something very dramatic happens to turn things around, it sure looks like he’s toast. But I won’t feel safe from this blundering doofus until the returns come in and he’s forced to concede the election the night of November 6.
This is a fast-moving story, so I’m sure there will be stories breaking rapidly today. But here are a few links to get you started this morning.
CNN: Romney’s political pretzel over Libya. That’s a bit of a timeline of the events of this Romney attacks and events in Egypt and Libya.
A very detailed timeline from TPM: A Timeline Of The Attacks In Libya And Egypt — And The Responses
Politico: Mitt Romney digs in on Obama ‘apology’
The New Republic: Former Romney Adviser on Libya: “They Stepped in It”
Bloomberg Businessweek: Anti-Islam Filmmaker Who Provoked Attacks Used Pseudonym
At TPM Josh Marshall discusses some odd switches in the NYT coverage of the Romney/Libya story.
[E]arlier this evening the Times ran a story entitled “Behind Romney’s Decision to Attack Obama on Libya.” The byline was David Sanger and Ashley Parker. The big news out of the story was that Romney himself had been the driver of last night’s decision making. That and a lot of other color and interesting news. As I write, it’s still that piece and lede that’s on the front page. But now it’s been replaced (same url) by an almost unrecognizable piece entitled “A Challenger’s Criticism Is Furiously Returned”, bylined by Peter Baker and Ashley Parker….
The thrust of the piece is dramatically different and, unless I’m missing something, leaves out this critical quote from a Romney senior advisor explaining their rationale. “We’ve had this consistent critique and narrative on Obama’s foreign policy, and we felt this was a situation that met our critique, that Obama really has been pretty weak in a number of ways on foreign policy, especially if you look at his dealings with the Arab Spring and its aftermath.” [....]
What happened to the other story? Pieces get rewritten all the time, especially with a breaking news story. But this would seem to require some explanation.
Here’s a satirical piece from the LA Times: Mitt Romney should triple-down on Libya: Rally with Rev. Jones!
Mitt Romney’s campaign to make the world safe for anti-Muslim hate speech breaks new ground for a presidential nominee.
But why won’t the former governor of Massachusetts take his brand of audacious truth-telling to its logical conclusion?
President Obama, or at least his State Department, is “apologizing” for the video that makes the prophet Muhammad out to be a cretinous, bed-hopping party fool — so says Romney. So why wouldn’t Romney (who has twice affirmed his critique of the administration) triple-down — with a more explicit endorsement of the talented artists who put together the 14-minute “Innocence of the Muslims.”
I’m recommending, of course, a joint rally featuring Christian Pastor Terry Jones and his proxy, former Massachusetts Gov. Romney.
This one from ABC’s The Note is scary: Who’s Advising Mitt Romney on Foreign Policy? Here’s a list from Romney’s website. Some of the names are very familiar. Eight of them were members of the Project for a New American Century, the group that pushed for Bush to attack Iraq.
Paula J. Dobriansky
I’ll wrap this up for now, and check for breaking news in the morning. So…what are you reading and blogging about today?