Still looking for that “exploiting a tragedy” bounce
What we didn’t know then is that Barack Obama would be the man who — with Hillary Clinton’s assistance — would make the call to take out Osama bin Laden. And we had no idea that an even better test for a presidential candidate than his or her ability to handle that 3 AM phone call was the ability to not send that 12 AM email.
September 11, 2012 was the first day in about a year in which Mitt Romney didn’t lob incendiary, specious attacks at the president. He decided to honor the eleventh anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11 with a little decorum. As he did, the president’s post convention bounce continued and the conservative media began to turn on Mitt. Within a few hours Rush and Laura Ingraham and Bill Kristol all savaged his performance, saying basically anyone could beat Obama so Romney must be terrible.
Mitt’s problem? He wasn’t attacking enough.
For Republicans — who are still willing to employee all of the people who planned the failed Iraq War and still want to offer more tax breaks for the rich after the Bush tax breaks created no jobs — the problem can’t ever be their ideas. And since they decided before any of his policies took effect that President Obama was a failure, they just couldn’t be losing to him. No, it must be that Mitt — who has been throwing invented charges at the president for a full year – just isn’t being nasty enough.
So what did Mitt do around 12 AM of September 12?
He decided that he would take a tragedy that was still unfolding and use it to make a political point in a scathing email statement. Conservatives were complaining about a statement that the American embassy in Cairo put out trying to soothe the protesters. So when a likely unrelated attack on our embassy in Benghazi took the life of an American Ambassador, he took that critique and used to attack the president via email.
Anything to get the knives out of his back and into the president.
Mitt’s email and his smirking defense of it in a press conference have been roundly criticized by almost everyone—except, of course, some of the same maniacs who planned and supported the Iraq War.
Mitt’s defenders called the moment Reaganesque—except they never bothered to look at how Reagan handled such situations in his 1980 campaign.
You could say that the performance was George W. Bushlike, but our memories of the results of the Administration have blurred our understanding of Bush. W. made terrible decisions and hired terrible advisers. But he never did so in a rushed, obviously harried way. He had the confidence of knowing he had support from his dad’s old allies and the steady backing of the right wing press, which at the time was less potent.
In an era where Fox News, AM radio, Drudge and Breitbart are increasingly fact free and set on destruction, a weak candidate like Mitt Romney who has to bend to their ridiculous whims is especially dangerous.
Mitt Romney didn’t understand, or didn’t care, that he was commenting on and inflaming a crisis that is still in progress, putting American diplomats all over the Middle East at risk. His goal is stopping the president’s bounce and he doesn’t even understand the last thing he needs to worry about right wing that never will never really love him.
(Keep in mind that if Mitt defies the odds and is elected, his reliance on the right wing media to avoid a primary challenge will be even more desperate.)
Romney had a chance to show the center what kind of president he would be. And that 12 AM email revealed that he’s a man who has no idea what message he should send.
[Photo by Anne Savage.]