The Romney campaign is stalling, nothing’s landing and they need to connect soon. So last week Romney threw a foreign-policy punch. And in the short term he’s being hammered for it. But will it pay off? Is it the right issue for the campaign to pivot to?
What else can he do? Mitt Romney is falling into his own little black hole.
The central Romney campaign stump-plaint about the state of the economy isn’t panning out; people aren’t blaming Obama for the economy. What’s more the leading indicators like unemployment figures and the Dow Jones average aren’t conspiring to help the central Romney message. No one cares about the Paul Ryan budget, and no one cares about Paul Ryan. Romney doesn’t want to identify the tax code loopholes he would close, and he definitely doesn’t want to talk about his tax returns (because they quite possibly rape and pillage the very same loopholes that he doesn’t want to identify as needing to be closed).
And they can’t talk about their dud of a convention because it was such a fucking dud.
It gets worse.
He says nice things about Snooki one day, and the next a tape surfaces in which he says nasty things about 47 percent of Americans, a large swath that undoubtedly includes both Republicans and Democrats. Many of these people are retirees on Social Security, people who started paying into the Ponzi scheme that began sometime just after World War II. Obviously, this constituency is a bunch of lazy fuckers who failed in life (incidentally, a lot of them are Republicans).
I started this column asking who Mitt Romney was and last week deduced, temporarily, that he was a Tea Party puppet. As Mr. Frank Rich has just pointed out in New York Magazine, the Tea Party base is furious with him, and at Paul Ryan for neutering himself in Mitt’s service. Fox News isn’t channeling the Tea Party because they’re propping up their man, but we should all be aware that the grassroots energy of the right wing movement in this country is seriously divided. As Rachel Maddow points out, tune into right wing talk radio, they’re slamming Romney, his campaign, his wife, his dog, etc. And while you’re at it tune into Hannity this week as well; he’s starting to lose his shit for real. Last night I saw him vibrating when talking about the campaign. There was real rage in his black beady eyes. The guy is backed into a corner as he seriously contemplates four more years.
So if Mitt Romney is fundamentally a technocrat, then, by week three of my analysis of the man, he’s a really shitty one. Mr. Fixxit can’t fix anything, starting with his own dysfunctional campaign organization, which seems to be fragmenting internally. Staffers are going to the press leaking complaints about the man, and about Stuart Stevens specifically.
What a spectacular meltdown. Mitt Romney is an imploding, small, insignificant star at the edge of the Milky Way. Mitt Romney is a little black hole.
Obama is in the lead, and it looks like he’s pulling away.
But, wait a minute, will everything change now that the crazies have entered the scene?
Last week, the Muslim world blew up when the laughably produced, incendiary video The Innocence of Muslims (see our report that posits the real identity of the director of that video) fueled rabid anti-American protests in dozens of countries across the Islamic world. And in the midst of the melee—and even before anyone knew that lives were lost—Mitt took a shot at Obama.
On Tuesday night—September 11, a day of supposed truce for the campaigns—Mitt went on the record criticizing the Obama administration (this word administration is the key here) for “sympathizing” with the radical Islamists rather than calling them out forcefully.
The next morning, before the president gave an official statement in the Rose Garden, Romney held a press conference to continue his attack: “I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It’s never too early for the United States government to condemn acts on Americans and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington. And that reflects the mixed signals that they're sending to the world.”
And for this, everyone has been pouncing on Romney. He threw a pretty shitty cheap shot, an ultimately irresponsible one for someone who hopes to hold the nation’s highest office.
But if you read his words carefully, it’s pretty hard to disagree with Romney on this one.
It’s true that the messages from the embassy were sympathetic in tone (trying to diffuse a situation they called the stupid video out for what it was: shitty), and it’s true that the White House then distanced itself from those messages. And it’s also true, in a wider analysis, that the Obama administration has been sympathetic in tone to the Islamic world, starting with the much-maligned “Apology Tour” that began in 2009 in Cairo. Critics on the right have been calling Obama’s messages to Islam apologetic, and supporters on the left and in the middle call it sensible diplomacy after a decade of Bush unilateralism.
You decide for yourself: “I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition.” – President Obama, June 2009, Cairo
The problem is that if Mitt has the balls to follow up his recent criticism with a wider critique of Obama’s foreign policy in general, he’ll have very little space to maneuver. As the polls show, and as everyone knows, from the Pakistani villagers under the gaze of his drone attacks to Bin Laden himself, while Obama is extending an olive branch to Islam, this president has a bunch of real bloody wins under his belt when it comes to the “war on terror.” A dove he is not.
So what’s next?
The debates. Mitt’s last stand. I can’t wait.