Mitt Romney is going to celebrate Columbus Day by giving a foreign policy speech at the Virginia Military Institute. Romney is expected to castigate the Obama administration over the handling of the killing of Christopher Stevens and three other American personnel in Bengazi Libya.
When Stevens was murdered Romney thought he saw an opportunity to score some cheap political points so he rushed to the microphone in one of the biggest blunders of his campaign. Trying to use a tragedy to score cheap political points was something which most Americans saw right through much to Romney’s detriment. Romney and his team have studied the issue for several weeks so I predict he will tweak his argument in a better planned attempt to gain cheap political points from the tragedy.
While I may think I know what Romney will say about the Bengazi attack there really is no way to tell because his position shifts on a regular basis depending on what he thinks he needs to believe in order to get more votes. Following is my preemptive rebuttal to the lies which Romney will most likely tell in the VMI speech.
Romney will likely claim that various members of the administration knew the attack was not a result of mass demonstrations against the anti Muslim you tube video, but a planned terrorist attack. He will claim that these officials were reluctant to blame terrorism out of concern that such a disclosure would hurt the reelection of the president.
The fact is that Romney’s off the cuff response to the initial news reports are a prime example of the disaster that can happen when someone important makes proclamations in an attempt to jump in front of a story with the wrong information. It’s fine for the right wing echo chamber to start baying within minutes of an event, without any semblance of evidence or pretense of integrity. But major party nominees and the President of the United states are rightly held to a higher standard of proof. Romney (incorrectly) tied the Libya murders to the widespread protests well before the administration did, and paid for his hasty misjudgement. Jumping on the terrorist angle now is actually a flip flop from his original statement.
The widespread protests were just gaining traction when the Bengazi attack happened so it is not surprising that the administration and Romney reached the conclusion that an out of control mob was responsible. Voters can decide which is more appropriate as the immediate or early response to this particular attack and others which will happen going forward. A president who will rush to the mic making wild eyed pronouncements and issuing judgment before all the facts are known (in an embarrassing and crass attempt at political gain) or a president who waits to learn what actually happened before passing judgment.
Frankly if Romney had any respect for the average American voter he would shy away from the Libya issue due to his blatantly inept handling of the matter in the first place. Romney is counting on voters to just forget about all that unpleasantness and take him at his word about how he would have handled the affair in the first place, now that some water has passed under the bridge.
Romney will likely claim that State Department personnel expressed concern at the situation in Libya in the weeks leading to 09/11 but their requests for additional security fell on deaf ears. This is detailed in a letter (PDF) from the Chairman of the Oversight Committee Darrell Issa to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The administration has yet to respond to this letter, but it is only appropriate to note that Darrell Issa and the Republican house have repeatedly voted to slash funding for State Department security. These cuts have resulted in details that were previously filled by well trained Americans increasingly being manned by members of the local population.
Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor writes:
[I]t’s a bit rich to complain about a lack of US security personnel at diplomatic missions on the one hand, while actively working to cut the budget to pay for US security personnel at diplomatic missions on the other.
To me that quote is reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s convention speech quote on the Romney medicare attack: “It takes some brass, to attack a guy for doing what you did” It takes some brass to complain about a lack of security when you guys are the ones insisting on a lack of security.
My guess is that Romney will feel free to attack the administration and the State Department over the lack of security in Bengazi, but will not feel obligated to note the central role Republicans have played in the deterioration of security. If Romney promises more robust security for State Department missions around the World in response to Bengazi the proper question should be how he intends to pay for that when his house allies have voted repeatedly to decrease that funding.
If my prediction, that Romney will castigate the administration for a situation his Republican house allies helped to create, turns out to be correct one wonders if anyone except for a few of us in the reality based community will bother pointing out the inconsistency while reporting on the speech.
[EDIT In response to an email I received I will post an addendum below the "fold" on just what causes Mitt Romney to be such a lying liar].
Doug, a writer for and the person who runs this site emailed me with a theory that the term double think applies to the Romney campaign. A brief description of that term is: “To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic,” etc etc etc.
Listening to Romney on any given issue one can easily see how double think applies to him. I however happen to have a nearly opposite take on what guides Romney. To me he doesn’t define double think, he defines completely objective non conviction on nearly every issue. He combines that unique lack of convinction with the ability to sound convincing on either side of an issue, depending on what suits his purpose at any given time. This comes across as double think because Romney reliably and convincingly takes both sides depending on the situation, so at some point he must believe in one or the other by any regular standard which can be applied to human conviction in general. Perhaps Romney really has truly held convictions and just lies about it to get votes, but the ease with which he does it on every single issue is what leads to my conclusion that he is completely un-moored from personal convictions.
Perhaps the two exceptions to my theory would be his sense of what is proper when it comes to the business world, and his religious belief. I’m a little uncomfortable in holding Romney as an example of his church because my wife was raised and is still a Mormon and I happen to think that they really do value honesty by and large, even if their politics personally and as an institution, are usually quite odious. To me Romney’s behaviour would be an embarrassment if I were a member of his church claiming some sort of institutional precept which valued honesty.
And now my edit in response to Doug is turning into another full length post. Frankly, on his side of the ledger as to what makes Romney Romney, Doug has forgotten more than I’ll ever know about politics in general so maybe I should hush up with my psychoanalysis of just why Mitt Romney is a lying liar.
I suppose what it comes down to is he is what he is, and finding the reasons for why he is the way he is won’t change a jot or tittle of history if he wins this election.