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Tilting at Windmills

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April 26, 2011

ROMNEY REMEMBERS WHAT 'PEACETIME' MEANS, AFTER ALL.... In a published op-ed yesterday, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R) slammed President Obama for launching "one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history." It's a bizarre argument for several reasons, not the least of which is that this isn't peacetime.

After this caused a bit of a stir yesterday afternoon, the presidential candidate's team walked it back. As it turns out, Romney's claim wasn't intended to be a factual statement.

That word "peacetime" doesn't really jibe, does it? Team Romney has an explanation for that: It was a mistake.

"He meant to say since World War II," said Romney's PAC spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, in an e-mail.

I suppose there are more charitable ways to interpret the defense, but I'm inclined to agree with Jed Lewison, who didn't find the explanation especially persuasive.

Uh, say what now? How do you go from making a point about "peacetime" spending to saying you meant post-WWII? And how do you make that mistake in the first place?

Dave Weigel thinks it's because Romney meant to talk about domestic spending, but if we're not talking about military spending, then World War II is irrelevant. Plus, it's silly to talk about spending since 2001 without talking about the military. According to data available from the CBO on discretionary spending, from 2001 to 2010, defense spending increased by 125%. Domestic spending went up by 92%. In dollar terms, if defense spending had just increased at the same rate as domestic discretionary spending, it would be $100 billion lower than it is today, saving well over $1 trillion over the next decade.

Of course, none of that helps explain what the hell Mitt Romney thought he was saying when he said America was in "peacetime." Or how in the world he could have confused post-WWII era with "peacetime."

Before we move on from this little flap, I was curious to see how (and whether) the media picked up on this. The DNC pushed the story yesterday afternoon, and Vote Vets released a rather scathing response.

Would it be enough to get political reporters' attention? Not really; major media outlets generally didn't care. If Google News and Nexis are accurate this morning, Reuters ran an article, but the AP ignored the story. Politico had a short piece, but the major dailies -- WaPo, NYT, WSJ, LAT, USAT -- didn't mention it in their print editions. I couldn't find any mentions in broadcast media at all.

I'm curious -- if an inexperienced Democratic candidate with no background in foreign policy or military affairs described a time of multiple wars as "peacetime," would he or she ever live it down? Or would it be seen as evidence that Dems lack credibility on international affairs?

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Comments

I wonder how much stuff like this comes from young people who graduated from the Liberty, and Bob Jones, Universities?

Some of them may be speech writers, or in other posititions of policy responsibility.

So, I wonder how much of the "Frontier Gibberish" we hear from Conservatives, including Presidential candidates, is the fault of the ignorant true believers they hire?

Not that the candidates are much smarter themselves, mind you...

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 26, 2011 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

Or is this all further evidence that the corporately owned media are just an echo chamber and message amplifier for the repuke party?

Posted by: SadOldVet on April 26, 2011 at 8:09 AM | PERMALINK

"Lie-itis", AKA "Untruthiness" is a common Republican disease, frequently coupled with "race-ism", and "stu-pidity".

Posted by: DAY on April 26, 2011 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

major media outlets generally didn't care.

Steve, there's only 4 days to the royal wedding.

Posted by: SWENXOF on April 26, 2011 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, In addition to the royal wedding, the Donald is leading the polls. As of right now he is going to be president.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 26, 2011 at 8:26 AM | PERMALINK

I mean Romney is soooooooo 2008.

Truthfully, Romney's team is probably wondering what they have to do to get some coverage.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 26, 2011 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

What a kick in the balls to all those who served during peaceful wars, like Korea and Vietnam. How many died and were maimed for life during these peaceful moments? Willard Mitt Romney's selective service classifications.

http://romneyfacts.com/assets/cjtk-life/life-selective%20service/wmr_selectiveservice.pdf

Posted by: flyonthewall on April 26, 2011 at 8:29 AM | PERMALINK

Peacetime?!? How could he forget the wars on Easter and Christmas?

Posted by: Rsssl on April 26, 2011 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, we all know what he meant. Other people's kids are fighting these wars, not OURS. Besides, Bush said "Mission Accomplished," and everything that's happened after that was just, um, occupation, or last throes of the insurgency, or whatever.

Posted by: T-Rex on April 26, 2011 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm curious -- if an inexperienced Democratic candidate....described a time of multiple wars as "peacetime," would he or she ever live it down? Or would it be seen as evidence that Dems lack credibility on international affairs?"

To answer this variation of your never-ending question:

No, because the Republicans would not let them live it down. They would domineer the news cycles until something new came up to complain about.

Democrats don't have that...er...what would the "conventional wisdom" folk call it? Oh, yeah. "Message Discipline." You know, the same thing that during the 90s the "C.W" spouters called "spin."

Until the Democrats get beyond their echo chamber envy and just make noise, you'll keep asking a variation of that question, Steve.

If Romney is the presumptive front runner, run him ragged. No harm, no foul. Then move on to the next idiot who spouts off. Of course, it takes prominent Dem. voices to be heard...So what's the ever-quotable Biden up to these days?

Posted by: gus on April 26, 2011 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

As we haven't declared war since WWII it's been nothing but peacetime since 1945!

Posted by: martin on April 26, 2011 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Mitt Romney blows goats while being sodomized by donkeys. That was not meant to be a factual statement. But he really is a whore.

Posted by: roger the Cabin Boy on April 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

He meant to say since World War II," said Romney's PAC spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, in an e-mail.

It was a written and published Op-Ed. Did he not proof-read it? Edit it? Does he have responsible staff to read his writing before sending it in?

What a liar.

Posted by: g on April 26, 2011 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

IT'S ALWAYS OKAY IF YOU'RE A REPUBLICAN. Don't believe me? Okay, do a Nexis search on the number of follow ups on Joh Kyl's "not intended to be a factual statement" compared to, say, the number of follow ups on John Kerry's "I voted for it before I voted against it."

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on April 26, 2011 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

He meant to say 'Good Morning, dear' wrote Romney's PAC spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, in an e-mail to Mrs Romney.

Posted by: berttheclock on April 26, 2011 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

This is an easy one! It is peacetime in Romneyland because not a single one of his son's is serving his country in uniform.

It's only wartime for the peasants, whose kids bleed and die in the sands of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan!

Posted by: Chesire11 on April 26, 2011 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

"...major media outlets generally didn't care."

Steve, there's only 4 days to the royal wedding.
Posted by: SWENXOF on April 26, 2011 at 8:22 AM

That pretty much nails it! That's all we're going to see as far as television "news" is concerned for the next 96 hours. Peaceful aliens from outer space could land and promise the world an end to war, famine and a limitless supply of free energy and that still wouldn't be able to cut through the Wedding coverage because covering that is simple, it's shiny and it requires no work; just fawning. No wonder the media loves it.

Posted by: John on April 26, 2011 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

I don't believe we are "at war". We have a threat from terrorists both within and without our country. We have some troops in some other countries fighting some hostile forces; but, we are not really at war.

Posted by: Bonnie on April 27, 2011 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK
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