Mitt’s Character Moment

Michelle Obama said last week, “I have seen first-hand that being president doesn’t change who you are — it reveals who you are.”

So too does running for president and today was a revealing moment for those of us wondering about the character of Mitt Romney in his statements regarding the deaths of our ambassador and three others in Libya.  What I see is not very appealing: a man who 1) leaps before thinking 2) is willing to perpetuate an untruth for political advantage 3) will do most anything if he thinks it will get him a step closer to the presidency.

One of the pundits on TV noted that it was about this time four years ago when Lehman Brothers melted down and shortly thereafter John McCain “suspended” his campaign in order to deal with the economy.  In hindsight, this was seen as the moment when Senator McCain’s campaign went irrevocably off the rails.  I wonder if we’ll mark this moment as when Governor Romney’s campaign went the same way.

I wasn’t voting for him anyway, but this makes me more sure than ever that Governor Romney peaked when he did his groundbreaking work in making the world safe for another office supply company.

– Austin

71 thoughts on “Mitt’s Character Moment

    1. From U.S. News & World Report:

      “In saying that the administration sympathizes with the attackers rather than condemning them, Romney is referencing a statement put out by the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, which was also attacked by protestors angered by the same video. The statement, saying that the embassy condemns “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions,” was not approved by anyone in Washington before its release, which happened hours before the attacks in Libya.”

      The statement was in no way a response to the attacks since they hadn’t happened yet. That meets my definition of “ready, fire, aim.” Thankfully, the only thing he can fire so far are statements. I vote to not give him control of anything more lethal.

      – Austin

      1. Erik says:

        What’s the basis of the liberal pants shitting here? That the Mitt critique is of Cairo statement as response to Benghazi when Benghazi hadn’t actually happened when statements were made? So Mitt’s TEH STOOPID then?

        I’m not under the impression Mitt critiqued Cairo statement as it might relate to Benghazi. I didn’t hear it that way. He critiques Cairo statement because it was dumb and douche-y on its own merit. Seems to me liberal-pants shitting is based on a bastardization of actual events.

        The Administration agrees the Cairo tweets were dumb and douch-y, so if Mitt didn’t make a mistake re the timeline then all that’s left to discuss is whether this stuff is fair game to bandy within the confines of the campaign. I’ve got news for ya: it is fair game.

      2. PM says:

        I think that the “pants shitting” is coming from the Romney camp, because Mitt appears to be in free fall. Polling numbers have been in the tank, he is giving up on PA and MI, and he is even losing on foreign affairs (which Reagan and Bush I made into a GOP stronghold).

        Seriously, this should be a GOP election year, but, at the moment, Obama is much stronger, and the momentum is his–has been ever since the GOP convention, which looks to have been a bust, despite all of the GOP cheerleading.

        I do expect that this moment will pass, and that Romney will come back and the race will tighten before November. But i don’t think that Mitt is going to make it, ultimately.

      3. Erik says:

        They are not in a free fall. This election is going to be won by a margin that is less than Obama v McCain was in 2008. Which means that any event can swing it.

        The thing about this is that Mitt is playing into jingoism, and jingoism unnerves liberals to the point of pants shitting because the proles and rubes can be swayed by it.

  1. That video has been out since June..We are attributing a mass breakout of violence and protest across the Middle East to a YouTube video?What kind of foreign policy analysis is this? That’s number one. And number two, what is our foreign policy regarding Iran and radical Muslim Countries? Exactly? Because I haven’t heard a clear, cogent policy explained. And where do we draw the line, allowing our embassies to be attacked?

    And yes, what did Romney get wrong, the foaming at the mouth press nonwithstanding?

    I take it Jon is content with standing behind a podium and verbally conveying an image of cool, calm and collected and making empty threats about this will not be tolerated blah, blah, blah.

    I have to laugh at that video of reporters discussing how to all get on the same page when questioning Romney. Go figure. I want to hear the current president stand before us and tell the nation his plan for the Middle East. Who are our friends and who do we need to deal with using a firm hand? Or is everyone our friend?

    It seems to me more and more that this is an administration that doesn’t have a clear policy and reacts to events rather than prepares for them. It’s obvious we had no clue this shit was going down.

    1. PM says:

      part of the reason they might not have had any idea that this shit was going down was that the video had been out since June and there had been no violence about it in that time (i am making a not so subtle point here, Mike–the answers to your questions might be found in your own questions).

      Of course you have to react to events–because it simply is not possible to predict everything. But being reactive does not necessarily mean that you haven’t gamed things out–sometimes it is the best option. We KNOW that there is unrest in the Middle East. We KNOW that new governments (Libya and Egypt) are not good at providing basic civil security. We KNOW that there are factions in countries that are jockeying for power, and that the US and its role will be used and manipulated for their domestic power plays.

      The point is that Romney should know all of this as well, and his reaction clearly demonstrates that he is being used and manipulated by Islamic extremists to further their ends–because they want to create/provoke a crisis between the new, fragile governments in Egypt and Libya and the United States. Romney is showing us just how flawed his judgement is. He is doing the same thing that these radical islamists are doing–allowing his own domestic concerns (his desired to become President) to overshadow the larger, longer term best interests of the United States. The Islamists are trying to use domestic (inside Libya and Egypt) doubts about the US to gain power, and Romney is trying to use domestic (inside the US) doubts about about Libya and Egypt (and the Arab Spring) to gain power.

      Again, it is his judgement that is in question here. He is apparently willing to sacrifice the best interests of the country in pursuit of political power. And you want his fingers on the button?

      1. You’re right, PM, but my point was not blaming the administration for not seeing this via the video, but merely that the video was a flimsy excuse for what seems like a well planned mob breakout of violence and trashing of U.S. property.

        I agree it is not always possible to predict events. But as you state, everyone knows that area is a tinder box and it is again igniting. My questions, again, revolve around a lack of defined policy in the Middle East who are our friends? Who are our enemies?

        The president at least is honest in stating basically that he doesn’t know whether Egypt is an ally or enemy…well not exactly those words but close. We are still trying to figure out whether a government we are giving billions to is a friend or enemy; meanwhile, our policies toward a long time friend, Israel, seem to be strained at best.

        I’m not sure that critcizing a response to an event is purely political. Seems Bush got plent of criticism as events unfolded….with liberals hailing Richard Clarke and all but blaming the Bush administration for lack of awareness over the 9/11 attacks. True, there was not an election going on but still, that wasn’t political? Then there was Iraq and the Afgan war.

        Debating policies and responses are perfectly legitimate in a democracy. We can argue about the timing….as some Republicans advocated waiting a day or two. OK. I can understand that. And my point about the audio of the reporters is merely to underscore the fact that it’s the adminstration that should have been fielding questions from the press about the situation, its response and its policies. I’m less concerned with conspiracy (I’m not a big conspiracy theorist) but rather reporters willingness or unwillingness to ask tough questions, regardless of political party.

    1. It is telling I think how few Republicans have come to Governor Romney’s defense.

      Your questions about our foreign policy in the Middle East are perfectly legitimate; I saw Dan Senor use them almost word-for-word last night on CNN in an effort to divert the discussion away from Mr. Romney’s behavior. It didn’t work for him either.

      – Austin

  2. PM says:


    here is more on the US position, from Obama.

    Again, this is the kind of approach that i think is mature and adult, and that really does seek to achieve our national goals in the world. Romney, by contrast, is childish and petulant. Maybe Romney makes you feel better about settling scores, getting some of our own back, whatever, but that really isn’t what we need in a commander in chief.

  3. Erik says:

    We here at SRC might be able to get past this, as I think MAYBE we can agree Mitt as candidate is displaying intemperateness and naivete.

    But following that, a hypocrisy / inconsistency charge hangs in the air kinda ominously for an Obama sycophant. What’s the defense against that?

    Thing about something like Guantanamo is, it doesn’t reflect so much a broken promise as it does the President’s own extreme ignorance at various points and his inability to have that stop him from expounding self-righteously on those subjects of which he is ignorant. That’s a behavior that is analogous to Mitt yesterday.

    In any event, the preferred catch-all rebuttal for Democrat hypocrisy – “it’s OK when liberals do it” – is dependent on assumptions of both the liberal’s greater altruism AND their supposed higher informedness / intelligence. With President Obama’s early Guantanamo rhetoric though, we have a problem, as the example itself is at odds with the assumption of the liberal’s higher informedness and intelligence.

    So what do you do? Just continue to blindly insist that Pres. Obama and his administration are the most well-reasoned, analytical administration ever? That’s an option I am sure. Mind you, I’m just thinking about credibility.

    1. PM says:

      “Just continue to blindly insist that Pres. Obama and his administration are the most well-reasoned, analytical administration ever? ”

      Oh, no, not at all. Don’t think I or anyone else here has voiced that opinion.

      Rather, it is that they are the most well-reasoned, analytical option that we will be presented when we go and vote in November

      1. Erik says:

        It’s not an entirely different subject. But yes, I’m changing the subject. Me asserting and demonstrating the President is fallible and then the sycophants here at SRC asserting back that he’s infallible is not discourse. I’m not under any obligation to continue until your appetite is satiated.

      2. Changing the subject is fine; the PDB is a reasonable extension of the discussion and we’d about beat poor Mitt to death over this one already. When we get to the “pants-shitting” stage of conversation it’s time to move on.

        I’m not sure how I feel about the revelation about his attendance record in this area. On the one hand, it is an enormously serious subject and I think there’s benefit to most people in conversation as a supplement to reading on such subjects. On the other, however, unless you’re willing to assert that the President is incompetent to assess such things or does not take national security seriously – which I’m not – then I have to trust that he’s making an informed judgment about where his limited time is best spent. President Bush made a different judgement in this matter apparently but I don’t know that it was a better or worse one.

        – Austin

      1. Erik says:

        I would think if it were a straw man I would have to be making it up.

        Go ahead, tell us the President had it all thought out ahead of time.

      2. PM says:


        the straw man you have made up are the “liberal sycophants” who think that Obama is “infallible”.

        the real question is Obama vs. Romney–at least that is the one we will all be voting on in November.

        I am not aware of anyone here who thinks that Obama is infallible. I think that the GITMO example you brought up earlier is a great example of a mistake he has made. I think that the Egypt as ally one is less clearly a mistake–and quite possibly a good cop/bad cop example. Clearly we want the new Egyptian government to be more pro-active if they are going to be a strong ally of the US–and their behavior in this recent incident so far hasn’t been great. The new government in Libya, on the other hand, appears to have been much better.

        Seriously, i think that the Obama statement on Telemundo is an example of how a President should try to show a little bit of stick to a potential ally like Egypt, that appears to be wavering some (while getting billions in aid).

        Again, the contrast between Mittens and Barack is illuminating. Mittens does not come off well.

      3. Erik says:

        It’s not a premeditated good cop bad cop routine. In diplomacy you don’t muddy the waters this way. There’s a right answer to that question, which is essentially, “yes, they are a statutory ally.” Insofar as he’s not giving the right answer, it’s not at the forefront of his mind, or it’s in flux within the administration. But he’s one of these guys who gives the policy / political science seminar if he doesn’t have the real answer, and that’s what he’d done here as an ad lib.

        We know his personality and habits, and this is the correct conclusion to draw. To avoid it / rationalize it away is to be expressing some sort of sycophancy. So no, it’s not a strawman. There’s quite a bit of Obama sycophancy.

      4. PM says:

        Apparently Egypt is not a statutory ally, in that there is not a mutual defense treaty between the two countries (as there is among the NATO members, such as England and Turkey).

        “Egypt is among about 14 countries designated at “major non-NATO allies” by US presidents. This status recognizes that they do joint military exercises with the US, and gives them special access to advanced US weaponry. However, some of them are not allies in the precise legal sense.”

    1. Erik has a fair point regarding the status of Egypt. Here’s a transcript of the Telemundo interview:

      “Jose Diaz Balart – Would you consider the current Egyptian regime an ally of the United States?

      Pres. Obama – I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy. They’re a new government that is trying to find its way. They were democratically elected. I think that we are going to have to see how they respond to this incident. How they respond to, for example, maintaining the peace treaty in isr..with Israel. So far, at least, what we’ve seen is that in some cases they’ve said the right things and taken the right steps. In others, how they’ve responded to various events may not be aligned with our interests. And, So I think it’s still a work in progress, but certainly in this situation what we’re going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, our personnel is protected, and if they take actions that indicate they’re not taking responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that’s going to be a real big problem.”

      On the other hand, I just heard the State Department spokeswoman reaffirm that Egypt remained a “significant non-NATO ally.” There’s some daylight there. Maybe not quite as much as it appears on the surface, but certainly enough that someone is probably going to have to square that circle in the next few days.

      Having said that, though, Mr. Romney did not “misspeak” any more than Todd Aiken misspoke. He put out an ill-considered and wrong (Erik prefers “intemperate and naive”) comment that used a tragedy for political purposes. He doubled down on the statement the next morning and is now on the third version of trying to justify it. I find his behavior offensive and he has given me another reason to question his judgement.

      Mr. Romney has demonstrated that he’s a competent investor and manager. The job he’s applying for, however, is not just a bigger Olympics or a more intricate Staples. He started life with a lot of advantages and has not squandered them. He is – by all accounts that I’ve read – a good husband, father and grandfather; these are wonderful accomplishments and not easy. He is a man of faith and appears to live his life according to his faith and while I don’t share that faith I respect that he walks the talk in this area.

      But, after running for president for nearly eight years, he still struggles to unite and motivate his own party and he repeatedly gives the rest of us reason to question his suitability for the position.

      – Austin

      1. Erik says:

        I don’t actually believe Mitt was intemperate and naive. I granted that as a hypothetical so we could talk about the President’s intemperateness and naivete as candidate.

      2. You, too, have the right to square your circles.

        As the Senators used to always say at the end of their floor speeches (and probably still do): “Mr. President [of the Senate]. I ask unanimous consent to revise and extend my remarks.” This was code for “my staff is going to look at the transcript of what I said and clean it up before it goes into the Congressional Record.”

        Probably not as effective in the days of C-SPAN but there’s something to be said for giving all of our elected officials (and our candidates) a little time to make sure they REALLY want to say “the bombing starts in 15 minutes” and other such things.

        – Austin

      3. Erik says:

        Oh please. Like I say, voting for Obama because you’re Democrat is one thing. But let’s not persist in fanciful notions though, K?

        It’s pretty fair to say the President was grossly underqualified for his job when he started. You know what? That’s not a barrier to getting elected, and that is as it should be. Still, he was less qualified than any in memory, but perhaps not remarkably less qualified than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, W.

        Romney is a 65 year old man of enormous brains, energy, and accomplishment. He’s temperamentally equipped for the job.
        He’s “suitable”.

      4. Erik says:

        It’s perhaps a bit cloying for Romney and Republicans to assert “what this country needs is a good businessman as President.” That’s not the type of the thing that’s all that persuasive, for reasons you and I will probably agree on. It’s more persuasive to contrast Romney with Obama, and then assert that Obama’s economic illiteracy is hosing up the economy.

        Still, Romney is qualified by experience and by temperament irrespective of whether that old saw about business people has any legitimacy.

    1. Erik says:

      Saletan has a conveniently pedantic grasp of the word “lie”, much like the Politifact people.

      As a practical matter, political hyperbole and exaggeration is not lying. Romney has expressed a very a legitimate argument re “apologizing”, whether it’s a literal apology or not. It’s the argument you folks don’t like.

      1. Even by your standards (which I don’t accept), I think Mr. Romney is being dishonest on the “apology” thing. Since he’s a smart man, I can only conclude that he knows full well that by repeatedly using the word “apology” over and over and over he is trying to mislead people who can’t or won’t check it out for themselves. This is the same sort of tactics Newt Gingrich advocated to House members in the 80s and 90s – use words like “sick” or “corrupt” to describe your opponents even without basis – and that McCarthy and his ilk used in the 50s.

      2. Erik says:

        If Romney’s critique is inaccurate, why does the administration and state department disavow the Cairo tweets for the same reason? You’ve got a nitpick here that hangs on an itty bitty objection to one word.

        Dan Rostenkowski was corrupt. He went to prison. The House bank check kiting thing that those Democrats got caught up in was perhaps not literally corruption, but it was not too strong a word and a good enough reason for them to lose their elections. Very flimsy.

      3. Erik says:

        Somehow I don’t see James Carville bawling because Newt Gingrich called the late 80’s house Democrats corrupt. What’s the phrase? “Politics ain’t beanbag.”

      4. PM says:


        the Cairo Embassy sent the proposed language to the State Dept. The State Dept told them not to use it without edits. The Embassy went ahead and used it anyway.

        This shows that this was not the Administration speaking (they wanted unspecified changes), but neither does this show the Administration disavowing the language, much less disavowing it for the same reason Romney criticized it.

        Seriously, the fact is that Romney was wrong when he claimed that it was an apology (you literally can not apologize for something prior to that something happening), Romney was wrong when he claimed that it represented the Obama Administration position (the State Dept wanted changes made, and there is no evidence that anyone in the White House ever saw it), and finally, the fact that the Obama administration does not agree with the initial statement does not put them on the same side of the matter as Romney–Romney can’t hide behind Hillary’s skirts like that.

        Romney screwed the pooch, he has doubled down on his mistake, and it shows a lack of critical judgement on his part–one that is painfully apparent to many people in the public. I expect that his polling numbers will continue to fall as a result of this flap.

        He has reassured no one about his basic level of competency.

      5. Jim Leinfelder says:


        Take your time surfacing from those depths of intellectual dishonesty, lest you risk the bends. Were your rhetoric a submarine, it would be the envy of James Cameron. Yes, that’s a figurative analogy.

  4. Erik says:

    Ambassador Stevens was setup and assassinated say Libyans and journalists.

    No, it was spontaneous and because of the amateur Mohammed movie, says administration.

    The best conclusion to draw is that the administration is lying. It should go without saying Administration lying = President Obama lying.

    Why is this not a character moment for the President? My answer is because of the the “its OK when liberals do it” double standard and because of acute Obama sycophancy.

    1. PM says:

      Why do you think they are lying? What do they have to gain by saying it was not premeditated rather than an assassination attempt? And wasn’t it Hillary who first raised the possibility of this being planned?, rather than spontaneous?

      1. Erik says:

        The administration’s position is that it was a spontaneous event. If it’s viewed as spontaneous, then they are not malfeasant for not reacting to intelligence warnings in days prior.

        What makes you think they’re telling the truth? Why are the innately credible?

      2. PM says:

        seems rather soon for there to be proof one way or the other on something like this. FBI has been sent to investigate–their opinion will be dispositive, but, until such time, I see no necessity to rush to judgement (I do not intend to make the same mistake Romney did).

    1. PM says:


      if you want to develop this story line into something about Obama, by all means, have at it.

      Otherwise, what you are pointing towards really has nothing to do with Mitt’s character moment. Mitt’s assholeishness is in no way ameliorated by your link. Indeed, if anything, it makes Mitt’s behavior even worse–because he is attacking the Commander in Chief and thereby giving aid and comfort to the enemy (Al Qaeda).
      (sorry for my engaging in a typical Bush/Cheney tactic there)

      1. Erik says:

        It most certainly was ameliorated. Mitt is demonstrated to be correct. The administration shouldn’t engage / acknowledge / denounce the Mohammed movie in any manner as a relation to Benghazi or Cairo.

        Yeah, he’s a pretty big asshole… the way he gives 2 or 3 or 4 million dollars to charity every year. It’s just gotta be….

        This is Gulf of Tonkin type stuff with the Obama Administration and ultimately the President, so my curiosity is more how the Obama sycophant makes the mental adjustment to ignore all the lies. The overriding principle is that it’s OK when liberals do it, right?

      2. PM says:

        Mitt falsely accused the President of apologizing for something when there was no apology (and the question of whether or not this was a premeditated attack changes nothing about that fact), and he also accused the President of siding with the people who attacked the embassy, before it happened–again, who attacked the embassy does not change the fact that the statement was issued by the local Embassy and not the white house, and that it was issued before the attack, not after, so it could in no possible way be interpreted as siding/sympathizing with the attackers when there were no attackers.

        In order to ameliorate things for Mitt, you will need to change the laws of physics. Not even GOP spin can do that.


  5. PM says:

    BTW, even though Mitt continues to flail on the trail, you don’t need to be as desperate–Mitt’s loss will not necessarily reflect poorly on your or your judgement.

    1. Erik says:

      Oh, I’m at least self-assured it won’t reflect poorly on me. It will reflect poorly on you who didn’t vote for him!

    1. PM says:


      Mitt’s lack of character is based on the things that Mitt said and did. Those haven’t changed (unlike Mitt’s positions on taxes, health care, abortion, etc.), so nothing about his lack of character has changed, either.

      None of what you point to makes the US State Department look good, but none of it makes Mitt look any better, either.

      1. Erik says:

        Mitt waasn’t factually incorrect, so I don’t know what your beef could be.

        The President and the State Department lied about this for a month. Those lies kinda overshadow Mitt’s “intemperance”, to whatever extent he actually was intemperate. And he wasn’t, actually.

      2. PM says:

        Mitt was factually incorrect when he 1) accused the President (not the local embassy of apologizing 2) when they had not apologized 3) because they said something prior to the incident he accused them of apologizing for.

        So, three factual inaccuracies in one statement.

        Further (as a reminder) the statement in question came from the embassy in Cairo, which was indeed attacked by rioters angered over the video–a different situation from that in Libya.

        Whatever happened in Libya in no way diminishes Mitt’s childish performance.

        Please feel free to continue to try to change the subject, but you are simply flailing. Mitt is a bonehead here. Case closed.

        Libya is a different topic, and the President and the State Department still have some explaining to do on that one.

  6. PM says:

    So it looks like Mitt’s character moment shows that he really is a putz–there was no cover up, and all of the GOP/Romney talking points have disappeared, as we now know that Susan Rice’s comments on the 15th directly echo the CIA’s security talking points on the Benghazi attack. The are no Obama Administration lies here. Only GOP lies and insinuations and misdirection. Just like the earlier false story about the missed intelligence briefings.

      1. Erik says:

        No, not particularly the last refuge.

        For sake of argument, I’d grant Mitt was intemperate. But that’s not disqualifying of what is otherwise a very good candidate. It happens. You think it is disqualifying though. You also think Mitt’s intemperatness is a greater malfeasance than denying a yeoman ambassador increased security, and then lying for 3-4 weeks about the nature of the assault that killed him.

        That kind of delusion is the result of sycophancy, and no amount of rationale and logic will move you off it. So by all means, enjoy for the next 2 1/2 weeks. Let’s not kid ourselves that we’re going to have a well intentioned discussion about it though.

      2. PM says:


        don’t be so obtuse. It has just been proven that there has been no lying. Yet, you persist in lying about that. And, of course, so does Mitt. That is the huge character flaw that disqualifies Mitt in my mind. Just as he once supported RoBama Care, and then vows to veto it, and then again says that he wants to save the good parts.
        Call it Romnesia, calll it flip flopping, call it whatever you want to call it, but at least acknowledge the huge truth that is facing you and everyone else–Mitt is a chameleon who will do anything and say anything in order to get elected.

        so, i suppose that makes the charge of sycophancy a form of projection, doesn’t it?

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