Mitt Romney will say and do just about anything in his attempt to outrun the damaging “wimp factor” who failed to mention Afghanistan in his convention speech label he’s earned, up to and including yesterday’s epic meltdown. This is a man so insecure that he brings his wife as a shield when he finally meets the press for the first time since 2009.
Back in 2011, Romney supported Obama’s decision to support the NATO-led mission in Libya. Sort of. A round up of his positions paraphrased from ABC:
In March, Romney said he’d have done it sooner and accused the President of following the French into Libya.
In April, he refused to answer journalists questions about his Libya stance, described as “fleeing” down a hallway to avoid reporters, Romney gave them this version of leading, “I’ve got a lot of positions on a lot of topics, but walking down the hall probably isn’t the best place to describe all those.”
Later in April, Romney said Obama was being “too aggressive”, saying, “(i)t is apparent that our military is engaged in much more than enforcing a no-fly zone. What we are watching in real time is another example of mission creep and mission muddle.”
In August, Romney said praised the mission as Muammar el-Qaddafi fell. He told Fox News, “I think the world celebrates the idea of getting rid of Gadhafi. This guy was one of the worst actors on the world stage, responsible for terror around the world.” There was more where that came from.
So, he would have done it sooner, then Obama was being too aggressive, then when the mission was successful he was all for it again.
These gymnastics led conservatives to accuse Romney of looking “ridiculous” for not having a foreign policy, of just “mimicking” those who do, and only having one real position: His “anti-Obama” stance.
That should lead thinking people to ask what Mitt Romney and Republicans would do without Obama to lead them. How will they know what they are for or against, if obstruction is removed?
Way back during the dark days leading up to the Iraq invasion and after, Republicans took the position that to even question the administration was to give aid to our enemies. This meant that any Democrat who asked questions, including asking about the intel that proved Bush had been warned about an impending attack, was labeled as giving aid to terrorists by Republicans. Dick Cheney warned not so subtly, “Democrats need to be very cautious not to seek political advantage by making incendiary suggestions.”
Dan Bartlett told the Washington Post that asking questions is “exactly what our opponents, our enemies, want us to do.” Republicans piled on with this talking point, silencing all dissent by accusing Democrats of “apologizing for America” and equating Democrats asking questions with the terrorists, saying they stood together against American ideals.
Also, there would be no debating of the USA Patriot Act during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. John Ashcroft said people who disagreed with Bush’s tactics were on the side of the terrorists, and warned Democrats to stop asking questions, “… to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil.”
Fast forward to the last four years when Republicans have opposed almost every step Obama has taken in national security, and done so with wild accusations like Mitt Romney’s accusation on the evening of 9/11, in which he outrageously and inaccurately accused this President of giving sympathy to the attackers.
You might think those two positions are at gross odds, but they do have a few things in common. Republicans are consistently obstinate about their position and they shrug off waiting for information. They do not tolerate or value debate or dissent. They bluster. That’s what Republicans do as “foreign policy” and “national security”. Bluster. Blowhard. Talk big. This stems in part from the fact that they can’t (honestly) intellectually justify their neo-con positions within a legitimate framework of conservatism, and so they bluster loudly and furiously with charges of anyone who questions them is siding with the terrorists. But that’s another story.
Sifting through facts isn’t the forte of the neocon. Lately, Republicans take a position not even from the prowar neocon position, but in 180 degree opposition to President Obama, no matter what his stance is. Libya is the perfect example of this.
Of Libya, it was just a year ago in June of 2011 that Republicans were seeking to cut off funds to the President’s mission, with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) leading the charge with the help of the Republican House.
John McCain, who knows a heck of a lot more about foreign policy than most House Republicans will ever hope to learn, stepped up to accuse House Republicans of giving a “lifeline” to Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi. Mitch McConnell even admitted that the opposition was a matter of who was in the White House, while trying to lend some sort of intellectual honesty to their obstruction, “But I do think there is more of a tendency to pull together when the guy in the White House is on your side. So I think some of these views were probably held by some of my members even in the previous administration, but party loyalty tended to mute them.”
Fast forward again to now and you have Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan being led by the chattering Poujadists who run their party (Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin et al) into accusing this president of being “weak” with the military, somehow suggesting that if only he had what – gone in to Libya with a strong military presence, things would be different? They don’t say this, they leave it hanging out there with vague references to Obama’s alleged weakened military. Paul Ryan yesterday, “I believe the president’s devastating defense cuts breed weakness.”
Short memories, these folks have. Not only did Paul Ryan vote in August of 2011 for the defense spending cuts he’s blaming on Obama, but he and his party are the folks who voted to block the NATO-led Libya mission. Even on this, they were confused.
The House Republicans opposed “a resolution expressing support for the war while also voting down a bill restricting American involvement in the conflict.” Phew.
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) summed it up, “What we’re trying to do here is have our cake and eat it too. We’re trying to split it in half by declaring a partial war and then telling (Obama) how he is going to be commander-in-chief.”
It’s ironic that Romney would charge Obama of leading from behind (i.e., doesn’t charge in shooting before taking aim) when Romney clearly couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag. Romney is so busy hop scotching around the trigger points of the unhappy Right that he’s basically taking orders from Rush Limbaugh at this point.
In the end, Romney never had a Libya position that he wouldn’t change or evade. He never had one because he is a follower, not a leader. Mitt Romney fled down a hallway to avoid answering questions about Libya in 2011.
In 2012, at 10 PM (embargoed until 12:01 so as to “avoid” politicizing 9/11 – and this alone tells us all we need to know about Romney’s positions), he issued a statement criticizing President Obama for being weak and sympathizing with the attackers.
What would Romney have done differently? Well, he would have denounced the protesters sooner, according to him — without waiting for details, as proven by how wrong his 12:01 AM statement turned out to be. Being proven dead wrong didn’t stop Romney from doubling down on his claims, because it was never about the alleged position, it was about the posturing for the base.
And this Romney calls leading from ahead. I call it blindly following the tea stained party of no into a land of such unpatriotic obstruction that their only policy is “anti-Obama.” Romney might be pleased with his pretense at “strength” masquerading as attacking the American president as Americans were under attack, but he made one fatal mistake.
Mitt Romney has now put his biggest weakness, foreign policy, at the forefront of this campaign. It also happens to be one of President Obama’s biggest strengths. For this failure to successfully strategize beyond the talking point of the day, Mitt Romney reveals himself perfectly outclassed.
Additional Source: Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq
By Sheldon Rampton and John Clyde Stauber, 2003
Image: cropped version of photo by Erik Lesser/ZUMA Press
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.