You Never Go Full McCain

Here’s the thing about Mitt Romney: He’s a Republican candidate for president in the unenviable bind of not being able to run on any sort of record at all. He’s tried to run on his record as a businessman, but that’s been no good. The Democrats have done a pretty effective job painting him as a robber baron lighting cigars with the pensions of little old ladies, whose companies Bain & Company just liquidated for the LOLs. He can’t run on his record as a governor, because then the GOP base has its face rubbed in the fact that Romney gave socialized medicine to gay people who could get married, and that just won’t do. He can’t go out there and articulate his economic plan, bolted on as it is by the good graces of his Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, because Ryan’s economic plan is frankly insane, the sort of plan you make when you apparently think that the oliganarchy of the Russian 1990s is something to aim for, not run away from.

Constrained as he is, he’s got nothing he can actually use to make a case for himself but himself — Mitt Romney, with that genial smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes, that head of hair strategically left to gray at the temples, and that paternal aura of competence that says, hey, trust me, put me in the job and we’ll deal with all those silly fiddly details later. And you know what? With the economy still farting about and Obama still being as cuddly as a prickly pear, and Romney having a bunch of SuperPACs willing to shovel money until there’s not a swing state that’s not carpetbombed with ads, this had a reasonably good chance of working. But ultimately it only works if you actually trust Romney — or alternately, have no reason to distrust Romney — to make sane, responsible and intelligent decisions.

Which is why Romney blew up his chance to be president this week: He showed, manifestly, that he’s indeed capable of making horrible, awful, very bad, no good, terrible choices. First, by deciding that a foreign crisis, generally considered to be off-limits for bald, obvious politicking, would be an excellent time to engage in some bald, obvious politicking. Second, by making a statement slamming the president while the crisis was still in the process of developing and getting worse. Third, by blaming the president for an action he had no hand in (the press release from the under siege embassy) and which his administration had disavowed. Fourth, when after the facts of the events became clear, and it became clear that Romney’s statement had some serious factual holes in it, for doubling down at a press conference on assertions everyone knew by that time weren’t correct.

How appalling was Romney’s decision-making process in attacking Obama on the embassy attacks? So appalling that it took three whole days for the GOP to find a way to get its messaging to support Romney’s position (sort of). And in the meantime, everyone in the world was treated to diplomats, politicians and commentators on both sides of the aisle saying the somewhat more articulate equivalent of “What is this I don’t even” to Romney’s antics.

Was there a legitimate criticism to be made of the administration’s handling of the embassy attacks? Sure, although it would have been smarter not to release it on September 11. Did Romney make it? No. When presented with a fine opportunity to recraft and restate his criticism, did Romney take advantage of it? Quite the opposite, in fact. Has Romney’s refusal to walk back his initial screw-up compromised legitimate criticism about how the embassy attacks have been handled? Oh, my, yes. It’s amazing, actually. It’s as if at every turn in the crisis Romney had an opportunity to do something that wouldn’t make him look like a cat with a bag on its head navigating through a room full of bar stool legs, and chose instead the opposing course. It’s impressive in its way, but it’s a not a good way to be impressive.

What Romney has done here is in fact similar to something his predecessor John McCain did in 2008: Seize a moment in a crisis to take a bold step, without checking to see if one is in fact stepping into the abyss. McCain’s moment came when the economy started collapsing in on itself, and McCain decided to suspend his campaign, postpone the debates and generally attempt to make it look like he was already president already. This didn’t go over particularly well, as you may recall. It certainly puzzled me. For me it signaled the point at which Obama began pulling away with the election, because it made McCain look panicky and befuddled rather than decisive and in charge. As I wrote at the time:

I wish that this sudden, overwhelming concern wasn’t such a transparent attempt to continue to McCain presidential strategy of attempting to win the White House without being required to articulate coherently to the public or the press why he’s presidential material. McCain has missed more Senate votes this year than any senator not recovering from a massive stroke, so an active presence in the Senate is not something he’s put much of a premium on since beginning his campaign. He isn’t rushing to Washington to help, he’s running away from everything else. He is the Sir Robin of 2008 presidential election.

Fast-forward to 2012. Here is another crisis, of a different sort. Here’s another candidate, attempting to look bold and decisive, ending up looking like he has no idea what he’s doing and in the process stripping away the one item he has to base his campaign on: The illusion that he can be trusted to do the right thing. Here’s another place where there’s an excellent chance we’ll one day look back and say: This is where the GOP lost the presidency this time around.

Romney went Full McCain on this one. We see how well it worked for McCain. I suspect it’ll work just as well for Romney.

179 thoughts on “You Never Go Full McCain

  1. A nit – I think “oliganarchy” should be “oligarchy.”

    A more substantial criticism – Obama seems reasonably cuddly. He’s certainly no prickly pear.

    But overall, I think you’re right – Romney shot himself in at least one foot.

  2. It’s too bad Candidate Romney body-snatched Governor Romney. Governor Romney was marginally tolerable leader. Candidate Romney is a wing-nut dunce. Good job GOP, keep turning viable candidates into toxic assets and the Dems won’t even need to try.

    The electoral incompetence of the Republican party offends me as a slightly-above-average intelligence human being. All that money and all that brain power just to prove they’re no ordinary screw-ups, they’re showmen screw-ups.

  3. I was reminded of Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone. Admittedly, this isn’t quite the same level of a Full Greg Stillson. It is, as you say, a Full McCain. But still, I was reminded of it.

  4. Never underestimate the power of the Middle Aged White Guy In a Suit Speaking with the Voice of Authority. The cultural indoctrination runs deep, especially when people are scared and the memory span of the electorate is about two weeks

  5. This is where the GOP lost the presidency this time around.

    I’m new(ish) to the US, and this is only my second election here observed from the inside of the bubble. It does seem to me that Romney has had a LOT of moments where it could be said he just lost the presidency.

    And we haven’t even had the debates yet.

  6. Michael Rosefield:

    I don’t believe Obama has any chance of pulling away committed GOP and conservative voters (or that Romney has much chance to lose them). But the few remaining uncommitted voters out there I suspect are beginning to wander Obama’s way.

  7. Mitt Romney is sabotaged by Tim Yenmore. That’s “Romney, Mit” spelled backwards, because “Ttim” is just to strange a first name. That was his pseudonym when he infilitrated U.C. Berkeley student groups as a spy for Stanford University, accoring to the New York Times.

    Mitt Romney may know more than a little about Venture Capital. But Tim undermines him with weird off-the-cuff misunderstanding of the America that I know, and my Wall Street Conservative GOP father and father’s father believed in.

    Of course, Ttim is utterly against what my Liberal Democratic party mother believed in. She went back to school late in life, earned he M.Ed., and taught in an inner city 3rd grade. Ttim said that we don’t need any more teachers or cops. But we do need to give a trillion more dollars to the Pentagon that the Joint Chiefs say they don’t need.

    Mitt might be acceptable in Government, at least in Massachuisetts, where he did some good (Romneycare) and some negligence (according to my friends in Massachusetts, where I went to grad school). But Ttim would blow up America. And take the world with him…

  8. When the Republicans lose the race, they’re going to tell themselves the problem was that they weren’t extreme enough, not pure enough, not ideological enough.

    It’s rather like when the Israelites kept getting their butts kicked by picking fights with the Assyrians or whomever: they told themselves they lost because they weren’t religiously observant enough, then proceeded to test that belief by losing again.

  9. I think the only solution to this whole debacle is to limit the size of political parties, ensuring that any government is made up of a coalition of several. Sure, there are lots of problems with that, but right now you just have one party dragging another off a cliff. It’s hard to believe American politics isn’t some kind of practical joke, sometimes…

  10. I’m no fan of McCain, Romney, or Obama, but Romney’s not even as good as McCain was. McCain, when he actually had a position, was usually consistent enough to either keep that position or sufficiently explain why he changed it. Romney, on the other hand, is bound to have at least 2-3 other opinions on the embassy thing before all is said and done. In my fantasy scenario, Gary Johnson wins the presidency, but second best would be Obama winning with a Republican congress. Seems to have worked out well in the past.

  11. Between Milton Willard Romney’s flub of a trip to the UK, Isreal and Poland and this recent foreign policy faux pas, I’m quickly moving towards Camp Obama. President Obama seems much better at foriegn ops ‘er policy.

  12. I can’t recall a candidate who had more talent for sticking his/her foot in their mouth on a regular basis.

    The problem is that it’s now past Labor Day and people are really starting to pay attention to the election, so this certainly has more impact than some of Mitt’s other dumb remarks.

    One could argue that it would only take one good debate for Romney to undo the damage, but that’s not a bet that I’m taking.

  13. Just a little bit of historical context for a situation that no doubt some folks will bring up:

    Former President Carter’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis helped torpedo his reelection hopes. But when news broke in April 1980 that an attempt to rescue Americans held hostage at the Tehran embassy had failed, the immediate response from the campaign trail was more supportive than critical.

    Former California Governor Ronald Reagan told reporters it wouldn’t be appropriate for him to express an opinion at that time. “This is the time for us as a nation and a people to stand united” and to pray, Reagan said, according to United Press International.

    George H.W. Bush, also campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, went further. “I unequivocally support the president of the United States — no ifs, ands or buts — and it certainly is not a time to try to go one-up politically. He made a difficult, courageous decision,” Bush said in Michigan, UPI reported.

    Democratic challenger Senator Edward Kennedy of Massaschusetts also called for unity. The strongest criticism of Carter came from a Democratic long-shot: then-Rep. Henry Reuss, D-Wis., who said that Carter should withdraw his candidacy and “quietly serve out his term without any more impulsive actions,” UPI reported.

  14. Mitt Romney may know more than a little about Venture Capital.

    Kinda. He learned enough about it to realise that a) he didn’t much like it and b) the returns actually suck.

    There’s the ‘Staples’ myth about what he did where, in the early days, they’d invest in concerns and try to grow them, which they did for a while in the early 1990s, and the reality where they’d do leveraged buy outs and pay themselves handsomely by borrowing against the company which gives outrageous returns every single time.

    It is the business equivalent of the broken window fallacy in the long term.

  15. Thanks for this post, I was definitely getting a Leroy Jenkins Vibe from Romney’s actions over the past two days, and an equal sense the rest of the sane Republican party were all dreading having to go out and stand in support of him.

  16. Thank you. Oliganarchy is my new favorite word.

    When I heard Romney’s statement, my jaw dropped. If a Democrat had done anything like that to a sitting Republican president in the midst of a crisis, there would have been calls to have him prosecuted (or just strung up) for treason. I knew Mitt had no foreign policy chops (investing internationally is *not* the same as international diplomacy), but this was just…utterly divorced from common sense or common decency.

    And the baffling follow-ups trying to walk it back. Argh. When asked about the movie and free speech, he essentially gave a position identical to what the embassy in Egypt had put out – the very thing he had jumped on as ‘sympathizing’ with the enemy. It’s almost painful watching him – like seeing Reagan after it became clear Alzheimer’s was starting to affect him and he only had whatever script him handlers had given him.

  17. Though how pollsters arrange the question strongly affects the outcome, independents consistently have polled 3+ points higher for GOP in Florida & Virginia, but I don’t know about Ohio. I think it will come down to who runs the best campaign/ who is the best candidate & not who is best for the job.

  18. Romney’s asinine mantra of No Apology brings him to these moments. His inability to correct factual mistakes or at least change the message without acknowledging them, is killing his image. He apparently thinks that if he admits, or even corrects without admitting, a previous mistake he is apologizing. I also don’t think he understands the definition of apology.
    He certainly doesn’t understand the value of one.

  19. As an official member of The Other Side, I see somebody’s election hopes going up in flames but I don’t think his name is Mitt. I see a President who was advised that embassies were under attack and the ambassador missing and he went to bed. Then, after 4 American citizens killed during an act of war he went to a fundraiser and told his followers they might be able to meet famous people if they donated.

  20. Jonathon Van Post:
    His first name is actually Willard; Middle – Milton. Which would make him either Dralliw or middle is Notlim. Neither one is good.
    And I apologize in advance Good Scalzi for going way off post. I’m on furlough today watching daytime TV and very bored.
    Carry on people, nothing to see here…

  21. It’s probably too much to hope for that people will finally see that putting Romney is the White House would be a bigger disaster than whatever they think keeping “that black man” in would be. It terrifies me that Romney could actually win this election.

    Every man makes mistakes, and whatever his has been, I think Obama has always wanted to do the right thing. Romney just wants whatever will get him the election. He’d be a worse leader than Bush.

  22. I see a President who was advised that embassies were under attack and the ambassador missing and he went to bed.

    I see someone didn’t read the first link in the OP.

    Then, after 4 American citizens killed during an act of war

    Yeah, the media is totally covering up sovereign nations and their leaders who sent armed forces to attack. And those pictures of the Libyan President laying a wreath at the embassy and all those regular citizens of Egypt and Libya saying that the crazy people don’t represent them are just actors on a set in the same studio space where they filmed the Moon Landing.

    he went to a fundraiser and told his followers they might be able to meet famous people if they donated.

    You are aware that Romney’s press conference was at a fundraiser, no? And that he’s been sending out e-mails and tweets for the last 24 hours asking people for donations and a chance to rename his private campaign jet?

    Oh, and let’s not forget that Romney and Obama agreed not to air negative ads or attack each other on 9/11, yet Romney’s campaign had pee-pants and went ahead and broke that promise.

  23. I have to admit, “Tropic Thunder” was a lot better than I expected.

    Was there a legitimate criticism to be made of the administration’s handling of the embassy attacks? Sure,

    I’m missing quite a bit of detail behind this event.

    from what little I know, the surface story is some knucklehead made a islamophobic movie, and some people in the middle east were protesting this. I don’t know what could be done to quell the upset other than for the president to say “the guy who made this movie is an idiot”. And even that might not be enough.

    The story below that is some of the “protestors” arrived heavily armed with AK47′s and RPG’s, clearly looking for more than just voicing their dissent and their concerns. At which point, the nearest marine rapid deployment force should have been deployed to evacuate the embassy immediately. Which would hopefully not lead to the incident spiraling into a full out “black hawk down” incident.

    Maybe we need escape pods installed at all our embassies.

  24. Romney is reminding me of Nixon and his post hoc cover-up attempts. The one difference–given that Candidate Romney is trying to hide his mistakes about facts, while President Nixon was trying to hide the facts themselves–would be that the question here is, “What didn’t the Candidiate know, and when didn’t he know it?”

  25. Part of Mr Romney’s problem, at least from my perspective, is that he simply doesn’t think in terms of actual, living, breathing people. His comments were completely inappropriate largely because a significant chunk of the American public knows the people under attack–friends, relatives, fellow gamers–or have been in that position themselves. The people in the consulates and embassies, whether diplomats or military, are flesh and blood, not robot drones.

    Twenty years ago, my father could have been one of those killed, since as a Marine, he was often stationed as diplomatic security. And, until this week, Mr Romney had my father solidly in his pocket, a sure vote. Now, not so much. Mr McCain actually managed to keep Mintwitch-pere’s vote, despite everything, but Mr Romney seems determined to go down flaming.

    It doesn’t hurt that the GOP has lost their former discipline. The messaging is all over the place, but the commonality seems to be self-protection and/or setting up for 2016. The GOP convention only highlighted the lack of enthusiasm of the delegates and the self-aggrandizement of party leaders. It should have been a MItt Romney pep-rally of monumental proportions, but instead it was a parade of narcissistic 2016 campaign speeches by surrogates who seemed more interested in how they looked in the JumboTron than in getting their chosen nominee elected this year.

    Also, while President Obama may not be a fuzzy, wuzzy, Teddy Bear, in comparison to Mr Romney, he at least seems to be human. In this respect, I think Mr Obama’s appearance works in his favor. Few Presidents have been handsome, really, and President Obama is no exception. He’s a tall, skinny guy with jug ears, who disappears if he turns sideways, right? Also, black! All quite distinctive, and not at all plastic. Mr Romney, unfortunately, is pretty interchangeable; a Ken doll could sit in for most of his photos, and few would even notice. I think Mr Romney would appear more human if he put on glasses and lost the spray tan. Sure, it’s shallow, superficial, blah-blah, but when 9/10s of your potential constituency will only ever see you on television, it’s important to not fall into the uncanny valley.

  26. Here is what I posted yesterday about Romney’s execrable comments and timing:

    I must preface this post by emphasizing that I am very nearly a single-issue voter on the issue of foreign policy. And I was never a big fan of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy record. But I am big on a president who shows command of nuance and situational insight, as it relates to international affairs.

    All of the following foreign policy items have cost Mr. Obama points in my book: his bald-faced, and in my view, impetuously irresponsible, statement during the ’08 debates that he would have the armed forces chase terrorists into Pakistan if necessary to capture them, (which was something that a President or potential President should *never* say on the record, even if he’s pre-determined it’s the right course of action.) This *one* statement has set us on the wrong track for the last four years with that necessary, and vital to our supply lines in the region, ally-of-convenience. If “begin as you mean to go on” should be every President’s credo, especially as regards foreign policy matters, than Mr. Obama began badly before the American people even confirmed his election.) Also troubling me were the following: Obama’s allowing America’s State Department’s foreign policy to be blindsided by the sneak-release of the Wikileaks cables, (and his subsequent weakness and inability to strong-arm the American press into taking a hands-off position on publishing those cables;) his letting the Arab Spring sneak up on him; his allowing a vital-to-the-global-economy oil power like Libya to so destabilize as badly as it did, before he got behind a limited international intervention; his publicly-speculated-upon-by-pundits — but-never-explicitly so-stated, “Obama Doctrine” — of leading from behind; even little protocol gaffes like bowing to foreign leaders–which were seen, true or not, as slowly eroding both America’s prestige and our position as the one piece of the puzzle in the world without which most foreign policy crises simply *cannot* be resolved; his administration’s runaway leaks of too much information in the immediate aftermath of the Bin Ladin raid, etc.. You get the picture. As Clinton’s former Secretary Of State Madeline Albright said on PBS the day after the Bin Ladin raid: “America is the World’s only indispensable country.” Mr. Obama has been too late learning that, and it has cost him, and us, dearly. History will judge him harshly for it, I’m afraid.

    So this posting comes from a confirmed Obama skeptic, who, up to yesterday, was dreading his unclear choices this November. Don’t get me wrong, this post is as much about “damning Mr. Obama with faint praise,” as it is about Mr. Romney’s actions on 9.12.’12. I still am dreading my choices, they’re just not as unclear. I have said, repeatedly, and even to national pollsters, as recently as 10 months ago, that “there is no way that I could vote for Mr. Obama as Commander In Chief) . But as skeptical as I truthfully am about Obama, I may have to admit to myself that I am now even more scared of Romney.

    During the past 24 hours, I have been musing again on some insight I gained earlier this summer into Mr. Romney’s character — which now seems prescient, especially the quote-author’s comment about Mr. Romney being a “how” genius but “why” zombie — which I read a little over two months ago; this was in an article titled: “Is Quora the un-Twitter? A website that elevates experts above users — really”. As I preface this quote from this “expert” on the site, keep in mind that Mr. Rao, the expert on Quora, was responding primarily to a question about whether Mr. Romney’s experience at Bain Capital was good training to fix a broken economy, not to a foreign relations question. However, the insights into Mr. Romney’s character, from the author of the quote, Venkatesh Rao, come from a guy who the author of the Yahoo Quora article, Virginia Heffernan, raved about, Mr. Rao apparently has written a book on strategy and decision-making called “Tempo,” and his insights on streamlining and clarifying the decision-making process still apply just as readily to Mr. Romney’s overall decision-making process, especially about foreign policy, as they do to his strengths and weaknesses on the economy. Sometimes, you’ve just got to take your insights where you can get them, especially during an election cycle, when events put a premium on recognizing patterns about the character of the man America is hiring for its top job, and doing so, as always, in the absence of complete information. Here’s what Mr. Rao says:
    ———————————————————————————————————————————–
    “I don’t have truly strong opinions about Republicans vs. Democrats and am mostly a centrist or just left of center, but I have to say the idea of Romney as President (and this an impressionistic take based on the Bain history, the Olympics thing, the wealth/lifestyle revelations and just his persona as it comes across on TV) scares me in a way no other candidate (Red or Blue) has in the last 15 years. He is scarier than the nutjobs on both sides because he won’t self-destruct through obviously dumb moves. He is scarier than the ideologues because he stands for absolutely nothing and appears to have no deeply held beliefs. He is scarier than the ‘smart’ ones like Clinton because he appears to have an insider ‘game mind’ and ability to work institutions without a comparable ability to think about actual issues and hard questions. A possible ‘how’ genius, but ‘why’ zombie. And finally he is scarier than the puppet types because he appears to be too smart to be influenced by anything other than stakes offered/traded in insider dealings. Bush Jr. by contrast appeared to be suggestible in other ways, which might have made him a better President if he’d had better advisers around him.

    Romney reminds of the Rufus Scrimegeour character in the Harry Potter books. A pure fixer-operator type focused on preserving an illusion of normalcy in very abnormal times, perpetuating toxic status quo balances of power, and pursuing some narrow back room agenda negotiated with a few.

    Yeah, those are fairly detailed expectations based on slim, impressionistic evidence. If he wins, I truly hope the responsibilities of office make him grow in some fundamental ways.”
    —————————————————————————————–

    http://news.yahoo.com/is-quora-the-un-twitter–a-website-that-elevates-experts-above-users%E2%80%94really-.html

    Well, guess what, Mr. Rao? The “slim, impressionistic evidence” Mr. Rao cites just got a little better fleshed-out. And, as a result of that “fleshing out” process, I *really* don’t like what I see in Mr. Romney. I hope I’m wrong. I suspect many Americans who yesterday were prepared to give Mr. Romney a fair hearing are now less inclined to do so, because of the petty way in which he tried to use a crisis for political capital. If they are not, they *should* be. May I remind everyone, this was a crisis in which, hours after Mr. Romney’s comments came out, it claimed the life of the first US ambassador to die at the hands of foreign nationals since 1979. Yet Mr. Romney, and his supporters, have continued to “double down” on their inflammatory comments. Given his remarks of yesterday, and the way he has since then apparently refused (and indeed is politically tone-deaf to the need) to flat out say “I was wrong, and I was premature”, Mr. Romney has just about lost any slim chance he had of getting my vote. And the debates haven’t even begun.

  27. Another one adding “oliganarchy” to the list of great new words of 2012. JS, I thought you were backing away from the blog to work on your contractual obligations? Tsk tsk. :-) Glad you couldn’t resist weighing in on this latest head-smacking toolery from the candidate of the oliganarchists.

  28. Kevin Williams – the folks at the Family Research Council are already talking 3rd party or a takeover of the GOP come Yenmore’s drubbing in November (they don’t seem to put much faith in the idea of his electoral victory at all!).

    Oh, and oliganarchy is a perfectly cromulent word.

  29. I admit, I’m baffled. As a liberal, I’ll happily applaud the other team’s clumsy missteps, but until 2008 the Democrats were always the ones that seemed to muddle their way through campaigns. On this one, it seems like you could mount a political attack on the administration’s competence in keeping U.S. diplomatic personnel safe (I don’t think it’s true, but it seems like a reasonable line of argument). Instead, they’ve switched between irrelevant and confusing angles – winding up today (as far as I can tell) calling the whole firestorm a misunderstanding because the administration agrees with Romney’s initial statement?
    Weird. Go Team Romney.

  30. @ Gulliver: “It’s too bad Candidate Romney body-snatched Governor Romney. Governor Romney was marginally tolerable leader.”

    Unfortunately for Massachusetts, he started campaigning for the presidency about halfway through his governorship. Which might’ve been okay, except that he felt it was necessary to prove his questionable Real Republican bonafides by — among other things — making lame and condescending Librul Massachusetts “jokes” at out-of-state appearances.

  31. I think you have a grip on it, mintwitch: Romney has no message because he can’t stand on his best work, which is Romneycare. The president copied that plan for Obamacare, which Romney must now criticize for- for- for being Obamacare! His base hates it, so he hates it too. Trying to hate Obamacare while taking pride in Romneycare is more than even a national politician can do without access to higher spatial dimensions.

    And now, worse than having to run from his own record, Mitt Romney has been caught in a bad mistake on the facts (which anyone can make) and is letting us all see that he handles mistakes by trying to cover them up (which no one has the right to do).

    This whole thing is a prime example of how sleazy politicians (and we ain’t all sleazy) work their cover-ups, too: when the facts are against you, get a stooge or a crony to publish a statement that the facts are other than they are, then use that to have your chorus start chanting, “There’s disagreement about that,” over and over. They’ve been using it effectively regarding climate-change, but climate-change is harder to understand than simply seeing that a statement got made before an attack took place. They can chant all they want to, but they can’t change the facts. The more they try, the more they reveal themselves and their candidate for the kind of leader he really is.

  32. I see someone didn’t read the first link in the OP.

    I did.

    Yeah, the media is totally covering up sovereign nations and their leaders who sent armed forces to attack. And those pictures of the Libyan President laying a wreath at the embassy and all those regular citizens of Egypt and Libya saying that the crazy people don’t represent them are just actors on a set in the same studio space where they filmed the Moon Landing.

    American Embassies are, by law, American soil. Any invasion of an embassy is literally the invasion of US soil. Invasion of same by armed citizens of another nation is an act of war even if they are not under color of said nation. Even European media outlets acknowledge that this is disastrous for his Middle East policy.

    You are aware that Romney’s press conference was at a fundraiser, no? And that he’s been sending out e-mails and tweets for the last 24 hours asking people for donations and a chance to rename his private campaign jet?

    Yes but he isn’t the President (yet). The President should, oh, I don’t know, put his job first instead of fundraising. I guess given his track record going to fundraisers would probably do less harm.

    Oh, and let’s not forget that Romney and Obama agreed not to air negative ads or attack each other on 9/11, yet Romney’s campaign had pee-pants and went ahead and broke that promise.

    No argument from me on this. That was really shitty and inexcusable.

  33. The thing I find odd about all this is that the day of and possibly the next 24 hours or so afterwards, some Republicans were actually critical of Romney’s foot-in-mouth approach, even Sen. McCain, who I started actually liking, sorta-kinda, again. Then apparently the powers-that-be flipped the “GET IN LINE” switch and everyone fell back into parroting the Party Line, even McCain, who got on CNN and started talking over the reporter about how Obama was “projecting weakness” in his foreign policy. My short-lived “like” for McCain went away rather quickly.

    Romney just can’t seem to get it through his head that if he’d simply kept his mouth shut and said that he supported the President like all loyal Americans should and saved the criticism for later, he’d probably been a bit better off. Now he just comes across as desperate.

    I’m still not exactly sure what a “President Romney” (and yes, my fingers tremble at typing that) would have done differently the other day. Bomb everyone in Benghazi? Send in the Marines to do something, anything? Frankly, I’d like to think that IF he gets in the Big Chair, he’d take the time to listen to calmer voices and find out exactly what was going on first before whipping out the Big Stick. Trouble is that he’s got pretty much the same bunch of Neo-Con chickenhawks who told George W. Bush that going into Iraq was a good idea advising him and that isn’t, as Martha Stewart would say, a “good thing”.

  34. I think we just got a look at how Romney would deal with the “3am phone call”. He’d fumble the phone, kick it repeatedly across the floor as he tried to pick it up, and when he finally managed to get his hands on it he would yell at the caller while holding the handset upside-down.

  35. Invasion of same by armed citizens of another nation is an act of war

    And you don’t really see that this is *exactly* the reason why it’s increasingly unlikely that Romney will be elected do you?

  36. While I can tell you feel really strongly about this, I seriously doubt Romney’s comments will mean anything outside of the “in-the-tank-pro-Obama-bubble”. People expect opponents to, you know, oppose. Really. It’s no big deal.

    The bigger deal, I’d say, is that the Arab world is going all scary apeshit on us right before the election. And while an educated realist understands the President didn’t do anything wrong to cause that, to the common yokel out there it may seem otherwise. And I think this is the thing that’s really bothering you.

    Me, I’ll just keep pushing Gary Johnson. I could care less which party’s Obamney wins.

  37. As a side note, and as a registered US voter who will be voting for neither Romney nor Obama (please don’t derail the topic by asking), I must say that I think Obama is quite handsome and does not strike me as prickly pear at all. For whatever it’s worth, never having met the man.

  38. I did.

    If so, then you’re falsifying information per your 1st post.

    American Embassies are, by law, American soil. Any invasion of an embassy is literally the invasion of US soil.

    So far, so good…

    Invasion of same by armed citizens of another nation is an act of war even if they are not under color of said nation.

    So that explains why, since 9/11 we’ve been at war with India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Syria, Greece, Yemen, and Turkey

    Even European media outlets acknowledge that this is disastrous for his Middle East policy.

    Huh?

    Yes but he isn’t the President (yet).

    If you’re making the case he’s acting the opposite of how a future (see Reagan and Bush above) or current President, then this is true.

    The President should, oh, I don’t know, put his job first instead of fundraising.

    Again, you obviously haven’t read the timeline.

    I guess given his track record going to fundraisers would probably do less harm.

    You’re right. Instead we should vote in the guy who spent a week insulting one of closest allies, then another couple of days more or less calling Arabs lazy and Jews money-loving, and then in direct contravention of the behavior of every modern Presidental candidate and/or future President stepped into a insanely hazardous situation and made it worse, then claimed that the current President was literally taking the side of terrorists, and has lied about it several times to the press, and now is changing his story on an hourly basis.

  39. JustMe: “American Embassies are, by law, American soil. Any invasion of an embassy is literally the invasion of US soil.”

    This is a common belief, but it appears to be a misconception. See: http://fairplaysubstantialjustice.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/are-embassies-considered-united-states-territory/.

    JustMe: “Invasion of same by armed citizens of another nation is an act of war even if they are not under color of said nation.”

    That’s an intriguing claim. Even if it is true about being our embassy being U.S. soil, I’ve never heard that an armed attack by individuals as an act of war by their country. Where are you getting this information? I would be interested to read the legal basis for your interpretation.

  40. Personally I don’t place as much blame on Obama and the US government for the Embassy invasion as I do my own (British) government. We were the ones, a few weeks ago, that said to the world that it was basically okay to invade embassies with armed forces if you felt strongly enough about it. Once the UK government sent that disastrous message out, it was inevitable that someone would do it.

    As for Romney, well he’s been stealing outright from Cameron and Clegg’s “cheap tricks” manual for crawling into power, nothing he’s done has surprised me, and it all seems depressingly familiar.

  41. I think it would be rather fruitless for me to enter into a Romney vs. Obama debate but I would like to ask a question which hopefully is not too off topic (since the word ‘oligarchy’ was raised) I’m cynical to the point of believing that our elections–for governor, the senate, congress, and the presidency- have become a matter of choosing between which collective of well-heeled puppeteers are willing to pour the most resources into one’s campaign. Not that I’m asking anyone to agree, but if I’m even partially correct, why has there been seemingly so much out-cry against ‘socialism’ whereas no one appears to mind the alternative of a plutocracy?

  42. Don’t take it too much to heart, crypticmirror. Armed attacks on embassies and consulates have been going on since at least the 1960s. Perhaps the most egregious was the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, the so-called Iran hostage crisis that, arguably, brought Jimmy Carter’s presidency down. The British government’s threat against the Ecuadorian embassy was ill-advised and repugnant, IMO, but I doubt mobs in the Middle East are looking to Western countries to say yea or nay to attacking embassies.

  43. Oh, and if we want to talk about priorities, right now Obama is meeting the bodies of those that were killed and speaking with their families while Romney holds a campaign fundraiser.

  44. It’s breathtaking in way how badly the campaign screwed this up. I’m a HUGE Democrat and even I can see the correct strategy here. 1. Make a “Americans United statement, conveniently not mention the President. 2. WAIT 3. By Friday, have surrogates and campaign staff start dropping criticisms of the situation in the Middle East. 4. Sunday shows: go full Romney attack.

    (Not that I’m complaining.)

  45. Genufett:

    Considering that Obama’s done at least a couple of campaign events between now and when the attacks happened, I don’t think whacking at Romney for that is going to get much traction.

  46. @ BW: It’s also worth noting that the facility in Benghazi was a *consulate*, not an embassy. Embassies are in a capital city (Tripoli, in this case), consulates are sort of branch offices.

  47. Has anyone found out the facts about the knucklehead who made the movie? Who he is really? Where the money came from to make it? Most of the articls that talk about this guy say there is doubt as to who he really is and who is really behind it.

  48. I don’t have any complaints about candidates campaigning during campaign season, that’s just how our (ridiculously long) election cycles work. That said, I think that Mr Romney should have taken a cue from his predecessors and kept his gob shut for 48 hours, and let his campaign issue a statement expressing condolences to the families of those who were injured and killed, admiration for our fallen, thanks to our allies and partners, and dismay at the violence.

    Then, after the 48 were up, he could have coolly and reasonable questioned whether the US adequately safeguarded a remote, rural consulate and its personnel, as well as whether President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s policies and actions in the region contributed to this terrible tragedy.

    Instead of behaving like a statesman, though, Mr Romney (re)acted like a right-wing talk-radio host trying to light up the switchboards during the mid-afternoon slump. Not at all Presidential or diplomatic; not cool and considered; and definitely not the sort of personality I want anywhere near the football.

    On the bright side, Mr Romney is evidently qualified to fill in for Mr Limbaugh the next time the latter goes on holiday. Maybe he’ll even get a slot on Fox News once this election is over. Not that he needs it; from what I understand, his retirement fund is somewhere between $21M and $102M. I don’t think he and the wife will be worrying about paying the light bill, no matter what happens.

  49. Meh, I disagree (slightly). I think the Romney camp realized that the had a crappy convention (and got a shitty convention bounce) and the DNC convention was pretty good (and Obama got a pretty good convention bounce). Since then, they’ve realized the race is pretty much lost unless they can turn things around. So, they’re jumping at whatever straws they have.

    My point is that the election wasn’t lost on Romney’s recent comments. It was already lost. At this point Romney is doing whatever he can to turn that around. In this case, he fucked things up worse than they were.

  50. JustMe:
    The troublemakers at the Embassy where, according to Juan Cole, the equivalent of soccer hooligans, supporters of a political party that had just lost a major election, and were feleing the future slip form their grasp. They were opportunists, taking advantage of a situation to give the other side a black eye before slipping into irrelevancy. They were not representatives of the Libyan government and so therefore, their attack on the Embassy was not a sanctioned act of war (it’d be like claiming that if a Mexican Drug cartel killed a cop in El Paso, that we should go to war with Mexico).

  51. BW: but I doubt mobs in the Middle East are looking to Western countries to say yea or nay to attacking embassies.

    Well, sort of.

    The US overthrew the democratic government of Iran in 1953 and installed the Shah as a puppet, mostly because British Petroleum didn’t want to pay Iran more for oil. The US dumped huge amounts of money and support into Iran. The CIA helped train Iran’s secret police, SAVAK.

    In 1976, Amnesty International put out a report about the Shah’s brutal regime of secret police, indefinite detention, turture, and killing of political opponents and dissidents since put into power in 1953.

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-2560000065/human-rights-abuses-shahist.html

    Demonstrastions by Iranians against the Shah intensified in 1977. December 1977,possibly in an effort to shore up support for the Shah, President Carter gave a televised toast to the Shah, saying he was loved by his people and a friend of the US.

    1978 in Iran was pretty much a “fuck you” to Carter’s toast to the Shah. The Iranian Revolution started that year and culminated in the Shah leaving Iran in January 1979.

    The Shah waa allowed to enter the US in October of that year to be treated for cancer. Iranians saw that as preparation for the US reinstalling the dictator by force.

    the next month, November 1979, Iranian students scaled the wall of the US embassy, beginning the hostage crisis.

    So, maybe Iran didn’t look to the US for a green light to invade the embassy, but Carter’s words after decades of brutal suppresion by an American installed and backed tyrant, might as well have been a green light.

  52. Please forgive my ignorance but I thought these buildings are guarded by marines 24/7. Does a consulate have different security than an embassy? I clearly wasn’t there and it doesnt seem like much has been said of the actual breaking into but shouldnt there have been a gun battle for control of the building by the marines?

  53. Sam: Marine Security Guards are usually only posted at embassies, not consulates or other interim facilities (like the one in Benghazi was). The MSGs are not responsible for external security at diplomatic posts; they are responsible for safeguarding classified information. They are not specifically trained for external security, and there aren’t enough of them at any embassy to repel a large attack. They are authorized to act in self-defense if it gets really bad, but the agency whose responsibility it is to protect ambassadors and diplomatic facilities are from the State Department Diplomatic Security Service (aka DSS), who have limited resources and function more as law enforcement than a defensive force. A lot of diplomatic security is provided through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the host countries. Which, by the way, was certainly present and fighting alongside the Americans in Benghazi, and almost no one has bothered to mention, let alone thank them for it, apart from the State Department. The latest report I saw was that as many as 10 Libyan security staff died and many were wounded defending the consulate.

  54. Sam, from the timeline link in the original post:

    Embassy guards fired guns into the air, but a large contingent of Egyptian riot police officers on hand to protect the embassy evidently did not use their weapons against the crowd

    The new reports I heard said some of the protestors had RPG’s and assault rifles, so some were looking for trouble. My guess is that there was a gun battle of some sorts. I’ll google around.

  55. he has more of a record than Obama ever did when he was elected. Nuff said.

    Obama picked a running mate with decent foreign policy creds. Romney didn’t.

    Plus, while he may have started with less of a record. As he said in his speech. He’s President now.

  56. Genufett: “A lot of diplomatic security is provided through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the host countries. Which, by the way, was certainly present and fighting alongside the Americans in Benghazi, and almost no one has bothered to mention, let alone thank them for it, apart from the State Department.”

    That’s an unforgiveable lapse. On the other hand, it appears that the local security forces in Yemen either made it easier for the mob there to attack the embassy or at least failed to do much of a job trying to keep them out.

    A specially trained U.S. Marine rapid response team has arrived in Yemen to boost embassy security, and a similar team has been sent to Libya. Those were the only ones, as of the AP report I read in the last hour or so. Extra surveillance drones were also being deployed in Libya.

    Meanwhile, the unrest is spreading to more countries. I wonder how many Marine rapid response teams are available.

  57. Genufett: They are not specifically trained for external security

    In the USMC, there are military occupational specialties for military police and similar, but every Marine is a rifleman.

  58. That’s an unforgiveable lapse.

    So, doing what we’ve always done, with almost uniformly good results is “an unforgivable lapse”. Got it.

  59. In the USMC, there are military occupational specialties for military police and similar, but every Marine is a rifleman.

    My statement isn’t a slight at the Corps, it’s just my understanding that not all of them are heavily trained in tactics specific to these situations.

    John, I read BW as referring to not thanking the Libyan security for their help and sacrifice as the “unforgiveable lapse.”

    That’s what I thought as well.

  60. “Here’s another candidate, attempting to look bold and decisive, ending up looking like he has no idea what he’s doing and in the process stripping away the one item he has to base his campaign on: The illusion that he can be trusted to do the right thing.” The same could be said for Pres Obama, the economy is tanking, debt is increasing, but he and his supporters could , and did, at least point to a foreign policy success of finally get Usama Bin Laden. One dead terrorist leader versus several dead Americans and many embassies now under siege or breached, kinda takes the shine off of the President’s singular accomplishment.

    Keep whistling past the graveyard, November is coming.

  61. BTW, here’s a great piece about how well Obama is handling the diplomacy involved by Juan Cole. This is a guy who, among other things, basically predicted exactly how the Iraq War (and ensuing civil wars) would end up, what would happen if we lost focus in Afghanistan to fight in Iraq, and how much Pakistan would be involved (or more accurately, not involved) in fighting terrorism. I figure he’s got a better handle on it then a guy whose only non-disastrous foreign policy experience has been in running the Olympics (which relied on a ton of government help) and outsourcing a ton of jobs building good business relations with the Chinese government.

  62. One dead terrorist leader versus several dead Americans and many embassies now under siege or breached, kinda takes the shine off of the President’s singular accomplishment.

    Actually, it’s more like 30+ dead senior members of Al Qaeda alone (which is now being considered as the main reason why some people armed themselves and blended in with the regular protesters), and considering that the protests are against a movie from an anti-Muslim Egyptian who is trying to blame the Jews, I’m not sure how the President is to blame.

    Keep whistling past the graveyard, November is coming.

    Meh. In almost every single poll, Americans prefer Obama’s grasp of foreign policy to Romney’s, often by a double-digit margin, and in those same polls Romney is doing significantly worse than he was just before his convention. I doubt that being unable to live up to the standards of Reagan did Romney any favors here.

  63. In addition to suspending his campaign, McCain had also picked Palin – which itself turned out to be a “step into the abyss” and in retrospect could be construed as a sign of panic. I realize that at the time the selection was announced (immediately after the Democratic convention), it was thought to be a coup of sorts, and McCain even enjoyed a lead in some polls for a brief period around the Republican convention. But now we know better – he felt he had to shake things up, that if he picked a Pawlenty (or a Romney) he’d go nowhere fast. So he did what turned out to be a wildly cavalier thing in terms of presidential-level responsibility (i.e., potentially placing her in direct line of succession).

  64. BW: I wonder how many Marine rapid response teams are available.

    They’re official title is “Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team”(FAST).

    http://marines.americanspecialops.com/fleet-antiterrorism-security-team/

    Each FAST company consists of 6 platoons of around 50 men each. THere are three FAST companies in the marines.

    They might be able to split the platoons up somewhat to cover more places, but most companies generally train, travel, and deploy as a single unit.

  65. @ Greg

    Has anyone found out the facts about the knucklehead who made the movie? Who he is really? Where the money came from to make it? Most of the articls that talk about this guy say there is doubt as to who he really is and who is really behind it.

    Apparently the video may also have been edited post-production, so as to add an overtly religious slight, in such a way as to add content the original film makers didn’t put in it. Which, if so, would make two disturbing things. One, fundie zealots willing to kill over a novel/cartoon/movie (Rushdie/Westergaard/scapegoat-of-the-week); and two, someone sleazy enough to manufacture controversy for the evident purpose of inciting mob violence.

    Either way, I have a theory as to why the aliens are giving Earth a wide berth.

  66. the economy is tanking

    It could be worse, he could be following the Ryan/Romney plan, as the British are and the economy could have actually tanked. :)

  67. Hm, catching up on the news. This one says they’re deploying 50 marines per city.

    http://www.wistv.com/story/19544985/us-official-marine-team-sent-to-yemen

    50 seems a little small, but 300 did seem a little big. Insert joke about being too many and not enough.

    But if they’re designed to deploy by platoon, that means they should be able to cover 18 different shitstorms if need be. I’d guess each company is assigned a general area on the globe and one of them gets the middle east, so there’s probably 6 platoons that can get assigned, and after that, its send in some big iron.

    I would also guess that if you could look down on the planet the last few days, you would see some V22 Osprey’s getting shuffled around to cover north and east africa.

  68. Disclaimer: Not a military or security expert. K? K!

    From what I understand from my reading over the past 11 years, US elite forces such as FAST, SEALs, and Rangers, have been as overdeployed for a decade or so as the rest of our armed forces, due to our multiple wars, and the knee-jerk fear of terrorism of every House Representative on a junket. That is (apparently) why Ambassador Stevens’ security detail was primarily veterans who had joined the State Department, and not active duty military.

    It is a canard of the State Department that they go into the world’s hottest spots largely alone, without security or even sometimes so much as a change of clothes, and try to negotiate peace, while a freshman Representative gets 12 guards, two translators, and an ass-wiper for a trip to Montreal. I don’t work for State, but I happen to have a couple of long time friends who do, and are currently stationed in dangerous places. I am always amazed and appalled at the stories they tell me, and so matter-of-factly, as if getting shot at is just a part of the job. Which it is, of course, but we tend to think of the military as the ones in the line of fire, not the economists, development experts, and negotiators who go into these zones armed only with their wits and good intentions.

  69. Another wicked smart guy I make a point of reading is a retired air traffic controller by the name of Don Brown. He tracked down the Frontline “Money, Power, and Wall Street” podcasts, and he’s liveblogging bits and pieces, the first of which addressed McCain’s suspension of his campaign. Interesting reading, that.

  70. Rob: several dead Americans and many embassies now under siege or breached, kinda takes the shine off of the President

    Funny how 3,000 dead Americans on 9/11 didn’t affect Republican’s opinion of Bush.

    But 4 Americans killed in an Embassy attack while a black Democrat is President, and suddenly the Republicans develop a case of the vapors and suffer fainting spells at the horror.

    Shorter: Give me a break.

  71. mintwitch: That is (apparently) why Ambassador Stevens’ security detail was primarily veterans who had joined the State Department, and not active duty military.

    News is scant, but I found this:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57511043/assault-on-u.s-consulate-in-benghazi-leaves-4-dead-including-u.s-ambassador-j-christopher-stevens/

    Wanis al-Sharef, a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi…said two U.S. Marines sent to Benghazi when the clash erupted were shot and killed by the well-armed protesters.

    That doesn’t say only 2 marines were sent, but however many marines were sent, 2 were killed.

    I’m assuming rounds were inbound and outbound at the embassy.

  72. Well, wait a minute here, stop and think… why would Islamic radicals want to affect the US election and discredit Obama to get Romney, the next War President, elected instead. Could it be that they are more afraid of the actions Obama has taken, which rattled the statis quo in the middle East, than they are of Romney’s big war budget and cuts in education and economic measures that would literally reduce life in the US to more accurately match the lives lived in those countries?????

  73. Article from Al Jazeera says there’s evidence that the gunmen could have been al queda, could have been a local extremist group, or pro-Gaddafi elements.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/09/2012913121437459208.html

    Just a few days ago, the current leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri, admitted that a US drone attack had killed Abu Yahya al-Libi, his close and trusted collaborator. He called on Libyans to avenge al-Libi’s death which, in fact, had actually occurred in June but which al-Qaeda had not confirmed.

    Indeed, back in June, shortly after claims of al-Libi’s death emerged, there was an attack on the US embassy in Benghazi in an apparent revenge, although nobody at the time was hurt.

    The initial reports of the violence in Benghazi suggested that those responsible were members of “Ansar al-Sharia”, one of the many extremist Salafi groups that have emerged in Eastern Libya since the revolution, as part of an older tradition of extremism dating back to the 1990s. It has been accused, most recently by Mahmoud Jibril, the leader of Libya’s major political coalition, of being responsible for several recent assassinations in Benghazi.

    pro-Gaddafi elements. The claim is not as surprising as it may sound, for there have been a series of attacks and assassinations by such groups in Tripoli in recent weeks, often masquerading as Islamist incidents.

  74. TruthB: Well, wait a minute here, stop and think… why would Islamic radicals want to affect the US election and discredit Obama to get Romney, the next War President, elected instead.

    In 1978, the Iranian Revolution was coming to a boil. At that time, there were many Iranians who hoped Iran would return to a secular democracy that they had back before the CIA overthrew it in 1953. secular democracy. The Iranian Revolution filled much of the year in 1978. The Shah left Iran in January 1979.

    And then in February, 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile in Iraq.

    He immediately opposed the provisional government led by Shapour Bakhtiar.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shapour_Bakhtiar

    relevant bit: a firm opponent of all totalitarian rule, he was active in the Spanish Civil War for the Republican side against General Franco’s uprising and fascism. Later he volunteered for the French army and fought in the Orleans battalion and in the French Resistance against the occupation by Germany.[1][2] In 1945 he received his PhD, in political science, as well as degrees in law and philosophy, from the Sorbonne.

    Bakhtiar opposed the tyranny of the Shah and was put in prison by the Shah for 6 years.

    That man could have become the democratically elected prime minister of Iran sometime in the 1980′s.

    Instead, religious extremists grabbed the reins and pulled hard and turned Iran into a religious extremist theocracy.

    that is why these extremists in the middle east are doing what they’re doing. They don’t care so much about who is President of America, they’re trying to derail democratic aspirations of their countries and turn them into religious extremist theocracies in their own image.

  75. greg, I cannot lInk from my phone, but the offIcIal state department release IdemtIfIes the two secIrIty staff as former navy seals. the statement Is on whItehouse.gov

    the thIrd was an InformatIon specIalIst. also a well known gamer, vIce rat on eve.

  76. mintwitch, thanks. I was kind of out of the loop the last couple days and have been trying to catch up on the details since.

    It’s… odd that a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi would report that the two men killed were active duty Marines. Fog of war and all that, I suppose.

  77. no worrIes, greg. l have been followIng the news and the state sIte closely, because I have frIends In the regIon. vested Interest and all that.

    I hate typIng on thIs fuckIng teeny thIng, and why does It capItalIze all my Is. sonosabItch(#&&$%#!

    kthxbye

  78. @Greg

    Things are still not 100% clear but it seems likely that ‘Sam Bacile’ the man behind the film is actually an alias of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian Coptic Christian who is currently under supervised release after being convicted of bank fraud.

    http://www.popehat.com/2012/09/13/meet-nakoula-basseley-nakoula-who-might-be-sam-bacile-anti-muslim-filmmaker/
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/nakoula-basseley-nakoula-anti-islam-film_n_1879195.html
    http://topics.talkingpointsmemo.com/Sam%20Bacile

  79. The biggest problem Romney had was jumping the gun too quick trying to get the first statement in, his statement was based upon the original statement by the embasy , compounding that his statement was not actually released by a campaign staffer until after Hilary made her statement. And has been noted the administration removed the post he originally complained and said it was not authorized after his statement came out and not before. And the whole thing about not critizing a sitting president during a crises, that went out the door by both parties years ago.

  80. “why would Islamic radicals want to affect the US election and discredit Obama to get Romney, the next War President, elected instead.”

    I think you’ll find that their actual concerns about who’s in power are much, much more local than that.

  81. TruthB_@ September 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm:

    Crazily enough, the US is not the center of the entire universe and not everything is about our current electoral race. Yeah, they may have been anti-American whatevers, but their motivation was probably no deeper than “Show up here with guns, to bring down the haters/infidels/bad people who don’t look/believe/dress like us.” People are people and grandiose conspiracy theories defy Occam’s Razor, in most cases.

  82. I can’t believe the irony and cluelessness of this post.

    He’s a Republican candidate for president in the unenviable bind of not being able to run on any sort of record at all.

    In 2008 Obama had no record at all. In 2012 Obama has an almost completely failed record. I know, I know, “Osama is dead and GM is alive” save for the fact that it was the intelligence community and Bush that did the heavy-lifting (like waterboarding for intel) that Obama himself criticized harshly (during a international crisis no less). As to GM, it is going bankrupt AGAIN. But, Obama was able to “save” the UAW (at the cost of illegally and immorally denying delphi employees their hard-earned pensions).

    Save for that Obama’s record is a complete failure. Record levels of unemployment that have only gone “down” because so many people have given up looking (Hint: it hasn’t really gone done people are just giving up). He spent near a Trillion dollars handing out goodies to his cronies. Obamacare is unpopular and a job-killer.

    I could go on.

    because Ryan’s economic plan is frankly insane

    I’m new to this, but cutting the growth of the increase of the government (you know, cutting the second derivative) while protecting the existing programs is insane? What’s “insane” is spending more than a $trillion dollars that you bring in a year and then stealing.

    On the mideast crisis and Romney’s criticism: John, I didn’t see you criticizing your Messiah in 2008 when Obama politicized an overseas crisis

    http://althouse.blogspot.com/2012/09/if-obama-talked-like-this-in-2008.html

    What I DID see is Romney standing up and being bold in the face of a media that is mostly now literally an extension of the Democrat party. What I did see was Obama run off to another party and another round of golf while Americans were dying. What I did see is even Jimmy Carter criticizing Obama’s laziness and incompetence on Egypt.

    Face it, you’re just a mindless lefty drone on politics. And face it (and take it from a professional statistician) the polls that are unbiased show Romney ahead. I think you’ll be surprised come November when Romney wins.

    I look forward to it.

  83. scorpius says: What I DID see is Romney standing up and being bold in the face of a media that is mostly now literally an extension of the Democrat party

    So much fail. First, and NOT a minor point, it’s the Democratic Party. Using the term “Democrat party” is just another right-wing insult that proves how careless you are of truth. Second, the media — owned by giant corporations — is an extension of the Democrats? Excuse me while I fall down laughing. Finally, “standing up and being bold”? Really? Saying that no one in the Middle East would dare to riot against America if he was President? Who died and made him God?

  84. “mindless lefty drone”

    One thing I’m sure Romney doesn’t mind is if the media points out what a narcissistic creep he is. His strategy is to motivate the base more than win over independents, and there are few things the base hates more than the media. Years of bending over backwards to be fair to both sides has not won the news media any slack from the right, who routinely discount any report they don’t like.

    Being criticized by Obama and the major media outlets in this country will only shore up his support with the diehards, and few enough Americans vote that they might win it for him.

  85. Tehanu,

    1) Well, in this instance it was a mistake.
    2) “Owned by giant corporations” So? “giant corporations” like GE contribute most of their money to either the R’s or D’s depending on who they think will win; it’s how they play the game. “giant corporations” have people who work for and get benefits from the Democratic party, like the GE chief. It doesn’t matter that the Dems like to paint themselves as the party of “the little guy” while the Repubs are painted as the party of “the rich”; both parties are controlled in part by “giant corporations”.

    Oh, and “giant corporations” (like MS and NBC) run radically-leftist media organizations like MSNBC. Or not-so-radical left-wing outlets like NYTs, Wapo, etc. etc.

    But I like actual proof: like media elites collaborating to only ask questions about Romney’s “gaffe” over the comment which wasn’t a gaffe to help Obama (http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/09/journalists-collaborate-on-attacking-romney.php).

    I could give you a very long list detailing how most of the media has done everything in its power over the last decade to get Dems elected (which has only accelerating under Obama) but I won’t wast John’s server memory (Yes John, I know text doesn’t take up much memory, but the list is THAT long).

  86. Tehanu, Kevin is right. Scorpius isn’t (or wasn’t, I stopped reading his posts a while back) always a flat-out thoroughgoing troll with troll sauce, but this time (judging by the first line and the second to last paragraph, which are all I really looked at) he’s in full swing. Don’t respond to him. John will if necessary, but otherwise it’s best to let him shout down a well, which is all he’s deserved from us.

  87. @ Harry Connolly

    Years of bending over backwards to be fair to both sides has not won the news media any slack from the right, who routinely discount any report they don’t like.

    Not to jump on this particular merry-go-round, but I’m always a little bemused when intelligent people speak as if the media were some sort of monolithic entity with a singular agenda…there’s more than one way to sell advertising, as the tragic commodification of environmentalism has amply demonstrated.

  88. @Just Me:

    I see a President who was advised that embassies were under attack and the ambassador missing and he went to bed.

    And I saw a President who, you know, decided to STFU, and made the rather sensible judgement call that he wasn’t going to say anything remotely useful until he had some solid facts to hand from people who knew what the fuck they were talking about. You know, the kind of behaviour I expect from genuine leaders.

    @Moviemark:

    The biggest problem Romney had was jumping the gun too quick trying to get the first statement in

    No, the biggest problem is that Romney acted like a candidate for county dog-catcher obsessed with getting his name on the front page of the Palookaville Gazette and utterly failed to show the kind of judgement and care in a crisis everyone should expect from a head of state. Oh, and where I come from when you’ve turned out to acted like an ignorant asshole, the appropriate response is to retract and apologise, not pout like a cranky toddler who don’t wanna say sorry.

  89. John, the Prickly POTUS is probably a combination of stress and campaign strategy. The “Democrats are wimp-bags” has been a Republican talking point for a long time, and it’s a little harder to make it stick now.

  90. scorpius: “Osama is dead … the intelligence community … waterboarding for intel)

    Congratulations, Scorpius, you win the

    Cesare “I refuse to look” Cremonini

    for making the modern day equivalent of the geocentric argument. So, congratulations! You’re prize is an all expense paid vacation on Princess Cruise Lines where they take you to the edge of the earth to watch the majestic Geocentric Waterfalls where the oceans fall off into space. As an added bonus, on the way back home, the ship stops at Petersburg Kentucky. (Yes, Kentucky is an entirely land locked state far from the ocean, but who cares about details, amiright, amiright?) There you will be given a grand tour of Petersburg’s pride and joy, the Creationism Museum.

    But wait, THERE’s MORE!

    You, Scorpius, also win the highly coveted Escher Award! By defending torture based on the false claim that it helped capture one man while at the same time ignoring the known fact that torture of prisoners in 2001-2003 gave us almost all of the false intel that was used by Bush to justify invading Iraq resulting in the needless deaths of thousands of American military personel and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, you demonstrate a complete and total lack of perspective and an ability to commit logical fallacies so twisted and convoluted that they look like one of Escher’s staircase images.

    And so, after stopping at the Creationism Museum, your cruise ship will then make a stop at Gitmo where you will be waterboarded 183 times over the course of one month until you yourself make whatever false confessions you think might get them to stop.

  91. Scorpius: John, I didn’t see you criticizing your Messiah in 2008 when Obama politicized an overseas crisis

    Congratulations! You just won the

    Friedman “Love it or Leave it” Unit

    for your concise portrayal of Republicans nonsensical view of war, i.e. that war, even one that has been going on for years is a crisis above any criticism from anyone.

    Unfortunately, the prize isn’t as glorious as a cruise. No, all you win is a T-Shirt. On the front it says “Judge not the war by the many years leading up to now, but rather Judge it by how awesome it might be six months from now.” and on the back it says “Dissent is for losers. Love it or Leave it!”

    Please indicate size and I’ll ship it too you as soon as I can.

  92. Well, that’s another great post. In my opinion, it was Mittens smirking about the death of an ambassador that really sealed it. That sums him up succinctly – he doesn’t care about the death or suffering, only about what he can personally gain.
    On the subject of the Trolls, I have noticed that they seem a lot more desperate this time. I hope that’s just a symptom of how incredibly hard it is to come up with a good reason to like Mittens rather than just a shortage of medication. (Perhaps the conspiracy theories are right and this is the first victim of Obamacare?). It’s interesting that on this, or defending Ryan’s budget, they try to avoid the issue and instead argue “But, but, but Obama is worse!”
    I love Scorpius’ “proof” – A couple of reporters chatting in a friendly way about who is going to ask which question is evidence of a huge media conspiracy. Furthermore, government is actually shrinking under Obama (also don’t forget that if the population is growing, you would expect government to grow). But don’t take anyone’s word for this, go look up the statistic on FRED…
    I remember Jon Stewart describing voting for Romney as like having to take your cousin to the prom. At the moment, I think Scorpius is at the stage of denying reality; or to continue the analogy, he’s turning off the lights, taking a shot of Dad’s whiskey and thinking really hard about someone else.

  93. I love Scorpius’ “proof” – A couple of reporters chatting in a friendly way about who is going to ask which question is evidence of a huge media conspiracy.

    Reporters actually do this at press conferences all the time, to make sure they don’t ask the same questions. It happens to politicians and officials of all ideological stripes, as well as at police briefings and business pressers. A reporter who doesn’t speak with the rest of the press pool risks looking stupid through either repetition because they didn’t have another question, is silent and therefore isn’t doing what they are paid to do, or just follows along with the speaker’s manufactured talking points (which Romney was using). It doesn’t matter if they’re with Fox News or NPR or the East Palookaville Star-Herald, they have to make sure they’re ready.

  94. Andy:

    I won’t give Scorpius the courtesy of assuming he believes what he’s asserting (whatever it is; like Xopher I only glanced over it). Given his history and the length of the post, it’s more likely he’s just stirring up trouble for the joy of it.

    Just ignore him.

  95. I agree with this post. But… the polls seemingly aren’t moving. (Which frightens: if this week doesn’t hurt Romney in the polls, nothing can. He has nowhere to go but up.)

  96. @Jonathan– Even McCain only lost 53-47. This is a resolutely polarized and partisan electorate and the polls are never going to shift that much.

  97. I think that comparing Romney to McCain does a grave disservice to McCain. I support and have supported the president, but what I saw in McCain was an honorable man (a war hero, sheesh) who was just wrong about some things, OK, many things. Romney has made it clear that he is not honorable. Think for example on how McCain corrected his supporters about birther theories before they were absolutely and positively discredited, while Romney dredges those same theories back up after the release of the long form.
    There are sins of omission and sins of commission. Certainly McCain flubbed a chance with the wall street blow up, but you’ve got to say he erred on the honorable side. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of a single instance where Romney has taken the high road. Lies and Mendacity are all we get from him. I wonder if *Dubya* might not be a better person than Romney. Certainly I fear a Romney White House much more than I ever feared a McCain one.
    In any event, I’m pretty sure that what lost the White House for McCain (if indeed he ever had a chance) was the Sarah Palin pick, and I seriously wonder how much control he had over that.

  98. In regards to the territory of the embassy (or mission as it’s referred to in the appropriate document) the reference for all this appears to be the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, specifically, Article 22.
    Quote:
    22
    1.The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.

    2.The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.

    3.The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.

    The ‘receiving State’ is the State where the embassy or mission is set up.
    The ‘sending State’ is the State that is sending a mission to the receiving state.

    Note that nowhere here does it state that the premises of the mission is the ‘sovereign territory’ of the sending State. Nor does it list consequences for discarding any or all of the sub points, (though they would no doubt be non trivial in nature).

    Under sub point 2, the receiving State is under a ‘special duty’ to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises etc.

    Whilst it’s demonstrable that Libya failed at point 2, it’s also true that the Libyan police did try to stop it.

    Under sub point 1, ‘agents of the receiving State’ as far as is known, weren’t the ones trying to break in, Libya cannot be held accountable for doing so, however they clearly have some responsibility for failing to protect the embassy and it’s personnel under sub point 2.

  99. Flamewars are also derailing to a conversation. (Greg, please take note.) Part of the reason for DNFTT is that if the troll succeeds in making the conversation all about him (almost always him), he still wins, even if he never posts but once.

    The fact that Romney smirked could be an indictment of his basic nature. It could also be a chance artifact of photography. If you take video of someone’s face changing expression, you can pick out a still that makes the person look absolutely stupid. If Romney’s face was passing from serious to a smile (someone he knew was just offstage, and his face was changing to a smile of greeting, say), it would pass through that smirk on the way. Show me video of him smirking and I’ll believe it a bit more. The right uses this tactic with pictures of Obama (though they’re also not above photoshopping him into a monkey when it suits them), so it can’t be said to be unfair exactly, just not to be taken at face value.

    That said, I think the smirk photo is characteristic of his attitude, which is sociopathic. His lack of apology or backpedaling on his erroneous and callous statements speaks volumes, whether the smirk was real or not.

  100. No one has pointed out that cats with bags on their heads walk backwards? I can’t be the only one to have observed this.

    I’m European – no US vote and would be thought a raving socialist anyway, so this is interesting in a WTF are they doing anthropological way.

  101. The comments are already too long to read them all but I wanted to reply to an early comment saying that due to the performance of the GOP and their picks, that the Dems don’t even need to try.
    The problem is that the Dems *haven’t* been trying. They don’t seem to really try at any election and only seem to win the major ones when their opponents go around shooting their feet off.

  102. Doire, American politics makes no sense to Europeans partly because the background needed to understand it is complex…and partly because American politics makes no sense.

    michaelharrison711100668, usually written as “The Democrats have no spine, while the Republicans have no heart.”

  103. @ John Scalzi

    Guys, don’t whack on Scorpius just for the sole purpose of whacking on Scorpius. Address his arguments or just let his comments slide on by.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to pile on. I was only poking fun in good humor, not meaning to truly flame the fellow. I generally think that more often than not, Scorpius genuinely believes what he says, on rare occasions makes good points, and adds valuable flavor to the threads. That he frequently sees the world through a highly selective filter…well, he hardly has a monopoly on that even on this site’s above-average commentariat, though it’s sort of extra amusing given that he’s a student of statics. If there is a prevailing cognitive dissonance in Scorpius’s apparent outlook, it’s that he advocates both libertarian and Republican principles, but that’s just my opinion which I’ll try to keep humble. If nothing else, he’s at least as respectful of others here as I am, and that puts him above any outright trolls in my estimation; besides, when I think someone’s trolling, I do my best not to feed them, and I do occasionally reply to Scorpius. Anyway, I hope that’s a fair and balanced critique of a fellow regular from my lefty-libertarian (and relative new-comer here) perspective.

    @ Xopher Halftongue

    Doire, American politics makes no sense to Europeans partly because the background needed to understand it is complex…and partly because American politics makes no sense.

    Aye, as complex as European politics, and as nonsensical as politics usually are anywhere ;-)

  104. I had meant to point out that ‘oliganarchy’ ought to mean a system in which a small, select group of people are completely exempt from any laws. That’s a pretty good description of Russia in the 1990s, and a pretty good description of the GOP vision for our society.

  105. Wow, John, thanks for keeping it civil. I apologize for my “mindless leftie drone” comment as it was made in a heated state of mind.

    You’re just myopic not mindless.

  106. JustMe:

    Holding foreign governments responsible for things their criminal citizens did without their consent, and in spite of their best efforts to prevent it. That is expressly not a part of international law. Indeed the attempt by the Hapsburg Empire of Austria-Hungary to establish it as international law resulted in World War One, which, in case you missed this news, they lost.

    When Libyan government security guards (not sure if they were police or military, but it doesn’t matter in this context) died trying to save the life of a US ambassador, then you don’t get to claim that it’s an act of war by the Libyan Government. It’s a murder. Committed by murderers who are at large in Libya, and whom the Libyan Government is making a serious effort to arrest.

    This is not comparable to Iran in 1979/80 and pretending it is is just laughable.

  107. Xopher: Flamewars are also derailing to a conversation. (Greg, please take note.)

    Meh. That wasn’t a flame. Scorpius made numerous stock/standard right wing arguments that are horrendously bad logic. My post wasn’t to slam Scorpius but to slam his horrendously bad arguments. (1) Torture did NOT find Bin Laden. (2) Torture DID give us all the false evidence used to justify the Iraq war. (3) And a war that’s been going on for years is NOT a “crisis” and IS subject to criticism.

    Scorpius’s points ARE also off the main topic, but they’re so blatantly wrong that it seemed that pointing out how horribly wrong they are would be easy enough and would quickly get the thread back on topic. (not that there’s been much posting about the original topic, but whatever).

  108. Greg, you do have a habit of derailing into flamewar territory. No matter how little I may think of some posters and their arguments, it doesn’t do us any good when you bite so hard.

    Maybe force yourself to take a half-hour delay in writing a response when you get your dander up.

  109. Greg, what Kevin said, plus: flamewars don’t begin with flames. They begin with someone saying something “blatantly wrong” and another person getting just a little too heated in response.

    A lit match is not a forest fire.

  110. Xopher:

    “A lit match is not a forest fire.”

    Oh my god. What a travesty of an analogy! In 2011 more than 5.4 million acres burned in the US **due**to**HUMAN**error. That’s like 8,500 square miles!

    A lit match, is almost certainly a forest fire. Easy careless ways to burn down a state? Unattended debris burning, smoking, unattended campfires, fireworks and **carelessly** discarding fireplace or BBQ ashes. You can learn more at http://www.smokeybear.com.

    Or did I miss the point?

  111. That’s a pretty good description of Russia in the 1990s, and a pretty good description of the GOP vision for our society.

    I don’t know where you get that impression. Especially since most of the GOP has gone on record in condemning the bailouts of banks. I know, I know they voted for it; but so did Dems.

    So, I have to challenge you here, where proof do you have that the GOP wants “a small group of people completely exempt from laws?” Are they exempting the UAW and public employee unions from laws? Wait, that’s the dems with Obama giving them exemptions from contract law and Obamacare.

  112. I would have thought lefties are hyperopic while righties tend to be more myopic.

    Not sure who has astigmatism. Objectivists?

  113. Substantively, I’d add that truly going Full McCain would have involved singing a song about bombing Tunisia in response. But, it’d be tough to preserve the rhyme scheme with that bit of a foreign policy refrain.

  114. Thanks, Scorpius, for putting your views out there and taking the time to explain them or refute others per reasonable argument. I’d hate for all of us to devolve into the sort of thing we’re seeing between our two parties. As long as we attempt to be understood and to understand, we’ll always hold onto the essence of what this country signifies.

  115. @Xopher, I don’t think it’s sociopathic, so much as empathy limited to Those Like Me.

    @Kevin, you can’t really discourage people beyond saying DNF. Much more just feeds the need for attention. If a kid doesn’t get a hug he’ll take a kick, as the saying goes.

  116. It is interesting that so much focus this week has been on what Romney said, and how the recent violence in the middle east and the murder of the Libya ambassador on the anniversary of 9/11, is really just about a movie. It seems to me that this a focus on style rather than substance, because what a Presidential candidate says on foreign policy doesn’t really matter at the moment, when compared to what the President says on foreign policy, he is after all the one who directs that policy. But I guess that is what politics is about.

  117. Paul, I’m scratching my head over the idea that what a Presidential candidate says about foreign policy is irrelevant to whether that candidate would do a good job with foreign policy, should he be elected President.

    Also, kinda the whole point of the controversy is that the murder of our Ambassador was not over a movie, and that the response to that violence is not over a movie.

  118. because what a Presidential candidate says on foreign policy doesn’t really matter at the moment

    How silly of us to think that what a candidate says is how we should judge them.

  119. I wish I thought this was enough to cost R-Money the election, but in Short Attention Span Nation, I’m afraid this will have blown over by November. Even in a hotly contested Presidential election less than half of the eligible voters will turn out, so I’m afraid he still has a chance. There is a large minority of people in this country who feel that it’s too much trouble, and the GOP is trying to make it more so. If they can exclude enough sane people, they can still win this.

  120. Even in a hotly contested Presidential election less than half of the eligible voters will turn out

    Since 1828, only *one* presidential election has seen a turnout with less than 50% of the voting age population. So, no.

  121. Other Bill: Or did I miss the point?

    Let’s see. If the point were a period in Hoboken, NJ, and your comment a comma in the Lesser Magellenic Cloud, you would have come closer to getting the point by some 10 orders of magnitude.

    That said, that was very, very good. It took me a minute to actually get it, but now the grin just won’t stop.

  122. GALLUP: September 16, 2012
    Obama 48%
    Romney 45%

    GALLUP: October 26, 1980
    Carter 47%
    Reagan 39%

    ACTUAL: November 5, 1980
    Carter 41%
    Reagan 51%

    Given Gallup’s current tendency to oversample Democrats, Mitt Romney clearly has *no* chance. (chuckle) I look forward to seeing President Romney inaugurated in January.

  123. What’s the cite for that Gallup poll figure from 1980?

    I checked the Gallup Web site. They have a nice handy page (http://www.gallup.com/poll/9442/election-polls-accuracy-record-presidential-elections.aspx) on the accuracy of their presidential polls: they post the result of their final pre-election poll and also the actual popular vote, for every presidential year since 1936. According to that page, their final poll in ’80 predicted a comfortable Reagan victory, 47-44. Reagan ended up winning by an even larger margin than Gallup predicted, but the actual outcome of the election was no surprise.

    There doesn’t appear to be any partisan pattern in the errors over the years. What it comes down to is that, while Gallup polls have correctly predicted the outcome of the election in all but three times since ’36 (or maybe two, depending on how you count it), errors on the order of 3% aren’t unusual.

    (So what are the times when they got it wrong? Every single time, it’s a case where they incorrectly predicted that the Republican candidate would win the popular vote. In ’48 they famously predicted that Dewey would defeat Truman; in ’76 they predicted that Ford would narrowly defeat Carter; in ’00 they incorrectly predicted that Bush would have a 2% margin over Gore in the popular vote.)

    Polls in October are generally very predictive. They’re sometimes wrong, but that’s not the way to bet.

  124. Well, if Gallup is the be all and end all, then maybe Brad might try comparing September 1980, when Gallup had both Reagan and Carter at 39%, to September 2012–which means… exactly nothing. Except that comparisons are spurious. Unless Netanyahu can manufacture a middle Eastern hostage crisis, and somehow the internet implodes, and Romney manages to keep his foot out of his mouth. Then, I think, the comparison might be worth considering.

    Gallup… Isn’t this the same organization that predicted Ford would beat Carter right before the election that Carter won? So maybe polls aren’t all that reliable. I mean, Rasmussen has Obama both up 1% and down 1%, today, at the same time, depending on which questions are asked. So, while we’re predicting the future, that must mean that what? The lizard-aliens will descend to enslave us? Sentient yogurt will seize the White House? Ron Paul supporters will stage a violent coup using nothing but hummus and a box of anthrax?

    Pretty much the only thing guaranteed is that the GOP will do something to inflame both the intertoobs and the punditocracy, early next week. I haven’t looked forward to Tuesdays so much since Buffy went off the air. Well, except for the people killed in Bengazi, because that was horrible, but the GOP nonetheless managed to add insult to injury with the statement of their nominee. Good job, that. I’ve rarely seen someone blow a solid, possibly winning hand, so decisively. You can tell Mr Romney doesn’t play cards, can’t you? All he had to do was hold, but he raised without even looking at his cards. N00b.

  125. Xopher – I typed it up like a mad scientist and hit send like I was sending up the monster to be struck by lightening. And then sugar crash. I thought you’d find it funny, but if you didn’t…well. No doubt there what side of the Asshole-Clever Divide that would have left me on. So. ::nervous laughter:: hooray!

  126. Gallup election polls 1936-2000 here:

    http://www.uselectionatlas.org/FORUM/index.php?topic=115543.0

    Brad didn’t point out that the final Gallup poll in 1980 had it Reagan 47, Carter 44 because that wouldn’t fit his narrative of oversampling Democrats quite as well.

    Brad didn’t point out that the latest *Fox News* poll (hardly one to oversample Democrats) has it Obama 48-Romney 43 (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html ) because of course that wouldn’t fit his narrative at all.

  127. It’s probably better to look at state-by-state polls rather than national polls, given we don’t use a popular vote to elect the president.

    errors on the order of 3% aren’t unusual.

    Depending on their sample sizes, 3% might be within their margin of error.

    Isn’t this the same organization that predicted Ford would beat Carter right before the election that Carter won?

    On the page Matt Austern linked to, it says that they had Ford one percentage point ahead of Carter. Although they don’t provide the margin of error on that page, I doubt that one percentage point is statistically significant.

  128. FiveThirtyEight has shown Obama consistently leading in both the electoral and popular polls with zero crossover from Romney, so I’m not sure if the recently close popular vote polls are an attempt to create a close race where there is none or if there’s something wrong with 538′s methodology.

  129. GALLUP: September 16, 2012
    Obama 48%
    Romney 45%

    GALLUP: October 26, 1980
    Carter 47%
    Reagan 39%

    ACTUAL: November 5, 1980
    Carter 41%
    Reagan 51%

    Given Gallup’s current tendency to oversample Democrats, Mitt Romney clearly has *no* chance.

    As numerous people familiar with polling and/or campaigns (including former Reagan and Bush officials) have pointed out, if you limit yourself to just the Gallup head-to-head, you’re either fooling yourself or are trying to confuse people as to what actually happened with the Romney camp’s talking points:

    Exploding the Reagan 1980 Comeback Myth

    [Romney pollster Neil] Newhouse contended that Carter led by nearly 10 percentage points in late October and asserted that this year would see a rerun of that campaign. While the myth of a Reagan comeback figures prominently in American electoral history, it turns out that it’s just that: a myth.

    The legend of Reagan’s epic comeback is largely the result of anomalous Gallup polling, which even showed a Carter advantage over the final month of the campaign. But if RealClearPolitics or Pollster.com had existed in 1980, the conventional wisdom would have been a little different. In fact, Reagan held a lead from mid-September onward and had a two or three point lead heading into the debates. Private polling conducted for the Reagan and Carter campaigns showed the same thing. Reagan’s 10 point victory is a precedent for sweeping undecided voters, but it isn’t a model for a come-from-behind victory (I am hardly the first to make this observation, as John Sides and Greg Sargent have been leading this charge for some time).
    [...]
    But many still interpret 1980 as a favorable precedent for Romney, since it is proof that a race can change in the final days. But in retrospect, the signs of Reagan’s big victory were apparent well in advance of his actual surge, and that isn’t true for Romney today. Reagan’s post-convention bounce foreshadowed his eventual finish, as he seized nearly 50 percent of the vote compared with his final tally of 51 percent, and above the 46 percent threshold for victory in a year when John Anderson would take more than 8 percent of the vote. In every post-war election involving an incumbent, the winning challenger has seized a majority of voters after his convention. Unlike George W. Bush and Reagan in 1984, Carter did not cancel out his opponent’s bounce with a larger one of his own. While Reagan’s lead vanished after the DNC as many of Reagan’s supporters returned to the undecided column, Carter only edged up to the upper-thirties or low-forties, presaging his eventual 41 percent finish.

    Reagan quickly reclaimed the lead after the DNC (if he ever lost it), but it wasn’t until the end of the campaign that most voters who indicated their support for Reagan following the RNC returned to his side. In retrospect, this should have been predictable. The voters that flocked toward Reagan already demonstrated their willingness to vote for him, never indicated any intention of voting for Carter following the DNC, and uniformly disapproved of the president’s performance.
    [...]
    In races involving a well-known incumbent unlikely to be redefined over the final months of the campaign, the conventions represent a fleeting moment when persuadable voters flock to their eventual corners, hinting at the ultimate outcome. My general presumption toward the so-called fundamentals reinforces this interpretation. The fundamentals don’t predict the results with precision, but they powerfully shape the contours of the race, making it difficult to sway voter preferences about an incumbent once they’re established.

    As a result, Romney is in a much worse situation than Reagan. Unlike Carter, Obama has inched close to 49 percent of the vote in the RealClearPolitics average, which puts him in striking distance of reelection. Even if Romney could pull-off a Reagan-esque surge among undecided voters, it would just result in a dead heat. And unlike Reagan, Romney didn’t demonstrate that a majority of voters were prepared to dismiss the president by reaching or surpassing his own magic number after the RNC. Instead, 2012 looks more like 2004.

    If Romney can’t take a lead over the next week or so, he will be forced to do something never successfully attempted: mount an unprecedented comeback against an incumbent president.

    Among other huge differences not mentioned in the quoted article is that there was a significant 3rd-party spoiler in 1980 where there is no one polling that well this year, that Obama’s approval numbers are in the high 40s to low 50s compared to Carter’s mid-30s, that Romney trails in aggregate polling in both the national numbers as well as almost every single swing state (sometimes with Obama over 50%), that Obama has an inherited financial situation that voters know of and factor into their selection, and that Romney is now tied or behind Obama on many major issues including foreign policy and even the economy in swing states. Add to that the fact that some major GOP figures in religious right and neoconservative circles have already started posting “pre-crimination” articles, and the political gossip rags already have more than the usual number of campaign infighting exposés, and Obama is looking much more like 2004 Bush than 1980 Carter.

    Obviously this might all change, but there’s nothing to suggest that it will anytime soon. Romney never gained a convention “bounce” (and at least one statistical guru says it was actually a negative for him) while Obama did. Romney came off looking poorly in the Libya attacks dust-up, even to a lot of Republicans. Recent financial developments at home and abroad have made the markets (and therefore perception of economic forecasts amongst the public) rise sharply. Again, perhaps there is something out there that will change all of that, but every day that Romney is behind in polling and unable to stay on message is one that he’s not winning, and where he needs more and more of an entirely unprecedented change in political perception.

  130. Mind you, I’m not arguing that Obama is guaranteed to win. October polls are pretty predictive — sometimes wrong, but rarely wrong by very much. September polls are considerably less predictive, for the obvious reason that a lot can happen between September and November.

  131. And thus, we moderate Republicans go back to waving our flags from the sidelines as we sadly shake our heads and resign ourselves to another Democrat win. Both parties seem bound and determined to pull us in opposing directions that we really don’t want to go.

  132. Christopher, as I see it, you have two alternatives in addition to sad head-shaking and resignation (and btw, “Democratic,” please).

    1. Take back your party from the extremists.
    2. Split off and form a new moderate party. You’d have to get enough people to seriously challenge the GOP. Might get some Blue Dog Democrats.

    I’m sure there are others, but those spring to mind. I’m not thrilled with the Democrats either, but in my case it’s because they’ve drifted too far to the right. Despite the assholes’ rhetoric, being a socialist in this country really leaves you without representation (except Bernie Sanders), and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

  133. I’ve moved from irritation when people declare that Democrats are too liberal/socialist/left-wing, to hysterical laughter. I’m a Democrat because there is no viable Socialist/Green/Labour party in this country, and the Democrats are the only marginally non-fundamentalist, not completely right-wing option. Both parties are corporatist, theocratic, and conservative, it’s just that the Republicans want to shove their religion up my cunt without a condom and call it an alternative method of conception, while the Dems will at least put a joey on it.

    I have no idea what “bound and determined to pull us in opposing directions that we really don’t want to go” even means. Where do so-called moderate Republicans want to go? Since President Obama has adopted all the Republican proposals from the past 22 years, I’m not quite sure what it is that turns all these allegedly moderate GOP members off.

  134. Mitt Romney lies about taxpayers, accuses “Obama voters” of wanting basic minimums of humanity extravagances such as food and shelter and health, admits that only 5% of your success is from your bootstraps, “jokes” about being kind of racist, and tries to pretend that he had no help from his family’s wealth in a hidden video with high-roller fundraisers:

    The overwhelming majority of voters who back President Barack Obama do so because they are “dependent on government” and “believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing,” Mitt Romney told a closed-door gathering of about 30 major donors earlier this year, according to video of the event that has surfaced on the Internet.
    [...]
    But there are a few problems with the idea of the overburdened “53 percent.” Many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes, in part, because of deductions like the child tax credit that have been championed by conservatives and progressives alike. Almost all of the “47 percent” do pay other federal taxes in the form of Social Security and Medicare payroll deductions and gas levies, as well as a variety of state and local sales and property taxes that aren’t dependent on income.

    A separate video clip with Romney addressing deplorable conditions at a Chinese factory began making the rounds on the Internet last month. In that video, he contrasted the conditions he witnessed on a business trip to China with conditions in the United States, where he said, “Ninety-five percent of life is set up for you if you were born in this country.”

    Commentators have seized on the assertion that people are mostly set if they’re born in the U.S. In fact, tens of millions of Americans are jobless or living in poverty. The notion also cuts against one of Romney’s campaign themes, which is that those who are successful have gotten to where they are on their own.

    In addition, the video is notable for Romney’s recounting of conditions he saw at the factory. By his own telling, he seemed satisfied when the factory owner told him the barbed wire was to keep job-seekers out, not to keep workers in. Romney may have been referring to conditions at Global Tech Appliances Inc., a Chinese manufacturer, in which Bain Capital invested, that was fined $2.65 million for ripping off a deep-fat fryer design, according to Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser.
    [...]
    In one of the other videos, Romney lamented, in a joking way, that he would have a better chance of being elected if his father had been ethnically Mexican, rather than born to white parents then living in Mexico.

    “My dad, as you probably, know was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico … and, uh, had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot at winning this,” Romney said. “But he was unfortunately born to Americans living in Mexico. … I mean I say that jokingly, but it would be helpful to be Latino.”

    In a separate video, Romney talks about his success. “Both my dad and [wife] Ann’s dad did quite well in their lives. But when they came to the end of their lives and passed along the inheritance to Ann and me, we both decided to give it all away. So I have inherited nothing. Everything that Ann and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way.”

    Romney’s parents did pay for his boarding school, his college, his graduate school and his first home.

    The irony of the party who pinned their hopes on the fake “Kill Whitey” video being released in 2008 having this real one (note that the Romney campaign was asked if it was him and didn’t deny) sprung on them in 2012 is amusing.

  135. Also amusingly ironic is the man who is complaining about half of Americans not paying taxes is also complaining about most Americans wanting to see his tax returns.

    I guess when the one tax return you did release shows that you make millions of dollars and pay a lower rate than the entire middle class–thanks to being able to game the system while also hiring tax attorney services that very few Americans can afford to exploit loopholes–the cognitive dissonance can easily be lost on you.

  136. Genufett: the man who is complaining about half of Americans not paying taxes is also complaining about most Americans wanting to see his tax returns

    According to page 4 of this:

    http://www.ctj.org/corporatetaxdodgers/CorporateTaxDodgersReport.pdf

    I paid more taxes last year than General Electric, Verizon Communications, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Mattel, Honeywell, and Corning paid combined.

    That Romney is more worried that people below the poverty line might not be paying enough taxes while he turns an Ayn Rand blind eye to all these mega corporations who pay no taxes at all shows where his allegiances are.

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