Thursday, September 13, 2012

Romney Listening to All the Wrong People


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When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.

When the only advice you get from your party is to "be aggressive" and "attack Obama" and you desperately want them all to like you and to never be criticized for being wimpy, that is what you will do. You will attack Obama in every situation, even if it makes no rational sense, and even if it threatens international peace.

Just a few days ago, Romney was getting loads of armchair advice from frustrated Republicans who are livid because he is crashing and burning in every national poll. But their efforts to light even more of a fire under Romney seems to have lit the fuse to the bomb that is Romney's Libya response. For instance:

He (Romney) should be very aggressive and he should be adamant in his attacks . . . he needs to be severely aggressive.
~ Sarah Palin on Fox, via Last Word

Gotta use those buzzwords. Gotta say "socialist." You gotta do that to get people's attention.
Bill O'Reilly on Fox, via Last Word

The Romney campaign's going to have to make some changes. They're going to have to go ideological! They cannot continue on this 'Obama Mr. Nice Guy' bit. They just can't do it. It isn't going to work.
. . . I'm not saying go out and say Obama's a bad guy. But he's got to be tied to this economy. His policies, his ideas, his ideology. Liberalism is still a dirty word in this country - use it!
Rush Limbaugh on his radio show

Speak Up, Mitt!
. . . It’s not enough to float like a butterfly. You have to sting like a bee. No sting, no victory.
~ William Kristol on the Weekly Standard

I keep going back to the millions and millions of dollars paid to these political consultants.
Election after election, we hire people who have lost previous campaigns; who've run campaigns that have failed; who have message campaigns where the message fell flat, and they keep getting re-hired. I don't understand that. I don't know why those are the people you hire.
. . . you're in this, you have one shot, man. This is going to be the first line of your obituary: you won or you lost. It's all on the line for the country, and it's all on the line for you.
~ Conservative Laura Ingraham on her radio show 9-10-12

Ouch - no candidate wants to see the word "obituary" especially when he is sinking in the polls. That's scary talk.

And finally, this from Jennifer Rubin who wrote a scathing analysis of Romney's 9/11 speech on the same day that the campaign decided to push back on Libya. Rubin told them to "seize the moment" and not put things through the "mushy" "Boston Blender," which is a pointed slap at Romney's closest surrogates from his Massachusetts days, the guys Romney trusts to write his policies and speeches:

On Romney's 9/11 Speech to the National Guard Association
This was a wasted opportunity when he could have shown some mettle. His foreign policy message, not unlike his domestic policy message, is getting put through the Boston blender, it seems, coming out mush. That would be mush with no flavor.
. . . Now is not the time for sweet vignettes; it’s time for him to seize the moment. That requires Romney to sharpen and beef up his message.
~ Jennifer Rubin on Washington Post

"Beef it up" guys, or your foreign policy is "mush." I wonder what Jennifer Rubin will write about today, if she still has a job?

All this free advice is looking strategically WRONG on so many levels now, going against the best interest of the candidate and the party. But perhaps they did all the voters a huge favor by throwing the spotlight on Romney's foreign policy incompetance.

On Tuesday night, the Cairo Embassy issued a statement trying to cool things down surrounding a volatile situation involving an anti-Islamic film made by an Israeli, which said:

"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. 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."

That's a rather standard representation of the U.S. position on freedom of religion, right? But because it wasn't anti-Islam in a Moslem country, the stupids came out of the woodwork to condemn it.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus On Twitter:

Sarah Palin on Facebook:
Apparently President Obama can’t see Egypt and Libya from his house. On the anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks ever perpetrated on America, our embassy in Cairo and our consulate in Benghazi were attacked by violent Islamic mobs. In Cairo, they scaled the walls of our embassy, destroyed our flag, and replaced it with a black Islamic banner. In Benghazi, the armed gunmen set fire to our consulate and killed an American staff member. The Islamic radicals claim that these attacks are in protest to some film criticizing Islam. In response to this, the U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a statement that was so outrageous many of us thought it must be a satire. The embassy actually apologized to the violent mob attacking us, and it even went so far as to chastise those who use free speech to “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” (Funny, the current administration has no problem hurting the “religious feelings” of Catholics.)

But where is the president’s statement about this? These countries represent his much touted “Arab Spring.” How’s that Arab Spring working out for us now? Have we received an apology yet from our “friends” in the Muslim Brotherhood for the assault on our embassy?

It’s about time our president stood up for America and condemned these Islamic extremists. I realize there must be a lot on his mind these days – what with our economy’s abysmal jobless numbers and Moody’s new warning about yet another downgrade to our nation’s credit rating due to the current administration’s failure to come up with a credible deficit reduction plan. And, of course, he has a busy schedule – with all those rounds of golf, softball interviews with the “Pimp with the Limp,” and fundraising dinners with his corporate cronies. But our nation’s security should be of utmost importance to our Commander-in-chief. America can’t afford any more “leading from behind” in such a dangerous world. We already know that President Obama likes to “speak softly” to our enemies. If he doesn’t have a “big stick” to carry, maybe it’s time for him to grow one.

- Sarah Palin

Clearly, Priebus, the guy who compared women to caterpillars, and Ms. Palin Malaprop are two of the stupidest people EVER to reach a level of eminence in our society.

So why does the Romney Camp follow their lead? I guess we have to assume they are just a confederacy of dunces as well. Because look at Romney's statement from Tuesday night, which echoes Palin and Priebus:
via Washington Post
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. 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.

And from Romney's Press Conference on Wednesday - this sounds as if Palin wrote it!!!
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.

Today Republicans want answers about who is running the show:

From Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Who told Mr. Romney to issue a political broadside against the commander-in-chief the day after a U.S. ambassador was murdered?
~ Joe Scarborough of MSNBC

O'Donnell points to Richard Williamson, Romney foreign policy adviser, quoted in The Daily Beast:
When asked if the Romney campaign did the right thing by releasing a statement slamming Barack Obama for a failure of leadership in the wake of a series of brutal attacks on foreign embassies in Libya and Egypt, Richard Williamson paused for several seconds before saying just three words: “It was accurate.”
. . . Pressed further if it was right to issue a political statement before the dust had cleared and the death toll was known, a statement that condemned President Obama but didn’t mourn those lost, Williamson said simply, “Sure.”
“Ty Cobb was the greatest hitter of all time and he batted about .355. And he is still the greatest hitter,” Williamson explained later in the interview. “There isn’t something in my 63 years I couldn’t have done better except con my wife into marrying me.”

O'Donnell calls that "The craziest thing I've ever read from a campaign spokesman . . . it is absolutely nutty." And rightly so. Foreign politics, especially in the Middle East, is not a game, so spare us the lame sports analogies. However, with advice like that, it's easy to see why Romney went to Britain and insulted their Olympic Games.

O'Donnell goes on to presume that Williamson would be fired post haste, but I'm not so sure. Look at Eric Fehrnstrom, hapless "etch-a-sketch" guy who is still running Romney into the ground months later. For a man who "likes to fire people," Mitt is almost too loyal to his inner circle of clownish advisers.

That is also the opinion of Washington correspondent Sam Stein of The Huffington Post who said on the show:

"No, I think he'll stay on the payroll, unfortunately. Unfortunately, it's a bad analogy.

There's an issue here which is Mitt Romney could have conceivably waited twelve hours, woken up, seen the news, and said, 'Listen, we all mourn the loss of life here, but it's time to really look at President Obama's strategy, vis-a-vis the Arab Spring.' And that would have sparked a conversation that may have been more damaging to President Obama than what's transpired currently.

The problem I think Mitt Romney has is that there's about three different factions within the Republican Party with respect to foreign policy. There's the people who are unapologetically pro-international engagement, the Neocons who think you can use military might to shape the world in your image. There are people who want to do it more subtlely, they're more realistic. And then there are the people, the Rand Paul types who want to disengage from the international community. So whenever Mitt Romney wants to put out a statement on Libya, he has to contend with three separate factions within his own party about what that statement is. And I think they look at that and say 'It is a lot easier for us to just go after President Obama on character grounds, accuse him of sympathizing with the protestors,' than it is to craft something that might be a little bit confusing to members of their own party.

And that's where he gets in trouble. . . .

. . . What you had this morning was Mitt Romney's advisers literally tearing down a campaign rally to set up a more somber setting so that he could deliver this statement in a sort of drabby dark Jacksonville office. Whereas Obama, all he does is step out into the Rose Garden and by sheer fact that he's President, he looked Presidential. And you know sometimes we look too much at the optics and the setting, and I think in this case the optics and the settings are a huge part of the story.

. . . There was supposed to be a partisan detente yesterday for 9/11. They knew about the embassy being breached. They planned their statement and they actually lifted the embargo to get ahead of the news cycle. They were very much aware of what they were doing. The statement was signed off by Romney himself according to the New York Times report tonight. They knew what was happening and if it were a gaffe they would have backtracked today. Instead they went back and they said 'No, we stand by that statement in condemning what the Cairo Embassy put out.' So no, this planned from the beginning and they totally miscalculated what would happen once they decided to say that Obama was sympathizing with the protestors.

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