Romney Tromps On Troops


Update, 9/9/12: On Meet the Press, David Gregory asked Romney specifically about not mentioning Afghanistan, as opposed to not mentioning the troops -- an understandable choice, but one that regrettably makes it difficult to compare with his answer to Baier. His answer was perhaps less offensive, but equally nonsensical; he dismisses the emphasis on words, when the important thing is policy -- but in fact Romney did not make any mention of Afghanistan policy in his convention speech. Not directly, not indirectly, not by other words. He touched on Iran, Israel, Cuba, Poland, and Russia, but not the country where we are currently in a hot war. Romney also circled back to the campaign's original defense, which is that he spoke about it in the previous speech. Now Romney suggests, absurdly, that the American Legion speech obviates the need to include Afghanistan in his convention speech because it reaches the same number of people, via news media coverage. I would say this was better than the Baier interview response -- again, on a different question -- but still not good at all. Here is the transcript (and note that Romney does not think to actually say anything about his Afghanistan policy, or for that matter say anything about the troops there):

Gregory: The Weekly Standard took you to task in your convention speech for not mentioning the war in Afghanistan one time. Was that a mistake with so much sacrifice in two wars over the period of this last decade?

Romney: You know, I find it interesting that people are curious about mentioning words in a speech as opposed to policy, and so I went to the American Legion the day before I gave that speech –

Gregory: You weren't speaking to tens of millions of people, Governor, when you went to the American Legion.

Romney: You know, what I found is that wherever I go I am speaking to tens of millions of people. Everything I say is picked up by you and by others and that's the way it ought to be. So, I went to the American Legion and spoke with our veterans there and described my policies as it relates to Afghanistan and other foreign policy and our military. I've been to Afghanistan and the members of our troops know of my commitment to Afghanistan and the effort that's going on there. I have some differences on policy with the President. I happen to think those are more important than what word I mention in each speech.


I want to take a moment to dissect some stupidity committed by Mitt Romney in an interview with Bret Baier on FOX News today.

If you want, you may feel free to take the further step to infer that Romney is relying on people who are simply not up to the task -- good, smart, people like Fehrnstrom, Stuart, Flaherty, and Myers, who are now unfortunately operating at a new, higher level beyond their skills, and who, according to reports, are doing the debate prep for Romney so let's see what they screw up with that.

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But back to the stupidity.

As you may have heard, in his convention speech Mitt Romney failed to acknowledge the sacrifice and courage of our troops currently at war. Or, in fact, mention the war at all. Or the troops.

Now, I don't generally care about that, although I do expect it as part of our national political theatrics (along with balloon drops, which the Democrats skipped). But I do care about whether campaigns are run by morons, so I was quite interested in this.

It would be bad enough for any candidate to make this kind of screw-up. But Romney has a real problem in this area, as you could kind of tell by the way the Obama campaign kept using the DNC to bash Romney on foreign policy. For one thing, Romney has no experience on foreign policy, and neither does his VP nominee. Also, Romney never served in the military, and none of his five sons served, and during the '08 cycle when he was asked about his sons serving he suggested that they were doing the equivalent by campaigning in an RV for him, a sentiment that seemed offensive when heard by human beings. And, in a broad sense, Romney kind of gives the impression of an emotionless android who blusters aggressively about going to war with any country that pops up in the news, without caring about the awful human consequences.

So, it was a big, stupid mistake to not talk about the troops and thank them for their service, and perhaps mention that sending them into harm's way would be something you'd prefer to avoid if possible because you recognize them as human entities.

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But, what's done is done. Now that it's done, the important thing is to have a really good response when you get asked about it, as you surely will the next time you take questions from a journalist. A better response than the initial one from the campaign, which was that it didn't matter because he had said nice things about the troops the day before at an American Legion speech, as if a President shouldn't thank the troops more than once in a calendar week, or perhaps shouldn't thank the troops when there are a lot of civilians around.

Romney has decided to do Meet the Press this Sunday, so it was smart of the campaign to have Romney practice a new response first with Baier, who could barely bring himself to even ask the question. Here's the exchange, and I'll re-join you, aghast, below:

Baier: To hear several speakers in Charlotte - and I don't think this is a jump - they were essentially saying you don't care about the U.S. military because you didn't mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech. We understand you went to the American Legion the day before and you talked about the service and sacrifice of the military there. Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech?

Romney: I only regret you repeating it day in and day out. (LAUGHS)

Baier: Well, I mean, what just came from Charlotte -

Romney: Because when you give a speech, you don't give a laundry list. You talk about the things that you think are important. And I described in my speech my commitment to a strong military unlike the President's decision to cut our military. And I didn't use the word troops, I used the word military. I think they refer to the same thing. And of course going to the American Legion...

Then he goes rambling from there about strong military, and how Obama would cut the military and he would not. [Update: Here's the full interview transcript]

Let's pick our jaws off the floor and review the three arguments that Romney  employed here, to counter the charge of insensitivity to the troops at war by omitting them in his big speech.

1) I would have gotten away with it if you would all just shut up about it.

2) It was a conscious decision that the troops at war are not important.

3) I consider soldiers to be no different than any other military asset.

I'm flabbergasted.

How, how in the world, in a Presidential campaign at this stage, with this candidate, on this issue, can his team send him out with that rank idiocy to say in response to a known question coming?

If they don't get something better in front of him before Meet the Press, oy vey.

Just for the record, here are the two parts of his speech in which Romney used the word "military," which apparently is synonymous with "troops" in his central processing unit. First:

...His assault on coal and gas and oil will send energy and manufacturing jobs to China;

His trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also put our security at greater risk;

His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today's seniors, and depress innovation – and jobs – in medicine....

And second:

That America, that united America, can unleash an economy that will put Americans back to work, that will once again lead the world with innovation and productivity, and that will restore every father and mother's confidence that their children's future is brighter even than the past.

That America, that united America, will preserve a military that is so strong, no nation would ever dare to test it.

That America, that united America, will uphold the constellation of rights that were endowed by our Creator, and codified in our Constitution.

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