Political Animal


October 07, 2011 2:10 PM Romney should apologize to, not for, America

By Steve Benen

I didn’t intend to return to the subject, but so long as Mitt Romney keeps repeating an offensive lie, I figure there’s some value in repeating the truth.

The Republican presidential hopeful delivered a “major” foreign policy speech this morning — the latest in a series of “major” foreign policy speeches, since the first few didn’t go well — and returned to one of his favorite arguments.

“As President of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize for America…. I believe we are an exceptional country with a unique destiny and role in the world. Not exceptional, as the President has derisively said, in the way that the British think Great Britain is exceptional or the Greeks think Greece is exceptional. In Barack Obama’s profoundly mistaken view, there is nothing unique about the United States.”

The condemnation of President Obama’s stated support for American exceptionalism is pretty foolish on its face, but it’s worth appreciating the point behind Romney’s lie.

Central to Romney’s entire campaign is the notion that the president “apologized for America.” It’s a line that the former governor uses in every speech; he’s mentioned it in every debate; and it’s even in the title of his book. It’s been fact-checked repeatedly, and it’s always been proven false.

If someone makes a bogus claim, he or she is merely wrong. When someone repeats the bogus claim after learning the truth, they’re lying. When someone builds a national campaign message around the obvious falsehood, they’re shamelessly lying.

But what I care most about in this instance is why Romney is shamelessly lying about this. If the GOP candidate were telling whoppers about some routine policy dispute, it’d be fairly routine and unremarkable.

The underlying point of the “apology” attack, though, is far more insidious — Romney desperately wants Americans to question the president’s love of country. The “apology” claim is a lie, but it’s also an ugly smear — those who are patriotic, the argument goes, don’t feel the need to apologize for a country they love.

That the president never did what he’s being accused of is apparently irrelevant. Republicans in general, and Romney in specific, still desperately want Americans to see Obama as The Other, even now.

The fact that Romney repeats this incessantly says a great deal about his character, or in this case, the lack thereof.

Romney will never apologize for America? Fine. But how about an apology to America?

Update: Adding insult to injury, Greg Sargent notes that news outlets are helping Romney spread his lie, without telling the public the truth.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


  • Burr Deming on October 07, 2011 2:16 PM:

    While President Obama has not even come close to apologizing for America, he has said some things in other countries that Arab audiences like. One effect of this has been that information that prevents terrorist attacks has been coming to US authorities. Apparently, popularity has benefits beyond feeling good about being well liked.

  • c u n d gulag on October 07, 2011 2:20 PM:

    How about if Mittens apologizes to the workers his companies laid-off or fired?

    It they were handwritten, that would occupy him until past 2020.

  • Josef K on October 07, 2011 2:24 PM:

    If, gods help us, Romney wins next year, I predict he'll be depicted in "Doonesbury" as a floating pancake as that's the only thing that gets 'flipped' more often than his professed beliefs.

    Romney deserves nothing beyond that observation, and good whack up-side the head for continuing this idiotic lie.

  • candideinnc on October 07, 2011 2:29 PM:

    Democratic congresspeople are too polite to call these slanders for the lies they are. If they had a bit more organization, and spent two days on the theme, "Mitt is a liar," the press would pay attention, and that meme might reach the public at lqarge for an open airing. They need to be more daring in their thinking.

  • Memekiller on October 07, 2011 2:29 PM:

    What's Romney's position on a politician who openly advocates succession (Palin/Perry)? Would be fun to see his verbal gymnastics when the wingnut base's loyalty has not been secured.

  • Kathryn on October 07, 2011 2:34 PM:

    If Romney or whoever is the Republican candidate wins, he/she will owe a large debt to the media, the White House press was snarky, stupid and antagonistic toward the president yesterday, a bunch of sniveling creeps who would rather eat sh-t than ask a serious question of Cantor, Boehner or McConnell. Mr.Politics, Chris Matthews bought right into their trap, calling them veteran reporters and claiming they ask great questions. Is there a more schizophenic mouth on MSNBC? Allow me, no there isn't!

  • Epicurus on October 07, 2011 2:38 PM:

    What was it Dr. Johnson remarked about patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel? I think we have an illustration for the next edition of his Dictionary. Just put a big picture of Willard next to the words "hypocrite," "liar" and "shameless." As unappealing as the rest of the field is to me, Mittens takes the cake. Pssst, also, too, he wears "magic underwear"!! I personally think the whole Mormon thing is going to prevent him from actually getting nominated, but then who? I refuse to believe that the GOP would actually nominate a black man for the Presidency...but I have been proven wrong before.

  • r on October 07, 2011 2:46 PM:

    Thanks, "liberal" media!

  • Jonathan on October 07, 2011 2:52 PM:

    By the by - just walked by the TV in the break room - Perry is on talking, and kept blathering on about exceptionalism / no apologies / etc. - so apparently it's spreading like a virus.

  • AMS on October 07, 2011 3:08 PM:

    Of course that's what Romney is up to---reinforcing the notion of Obama as the Untrustworthy Other. Sickening. The notion has resonance because many Americans have the sneaking suspicion that perhaps the United States isn't guaranteed eternal dominance and prosperity after all. They respond to the GOP candidates stroking their egos and soothing their fears by constantly telling them how special we are. It kind of reminds me of the self-esteem movement which, ironically, is much derided by conservatives.

    As for me, I find it telling that Obama chose to end his book The Audacity of Hope with these words: "My heart is filled with love for this country." I think he proves it every day.

  • June on October 07, 2011 3:10 PM:

    I look forward to the political ass-kicking Romney (or whichever of the GOP clowns ends up being the nominee) will get when they go mano-a-mano in the debates with this President - a President who took out bin Laden and has successfully handled more life-and-death crises in two years than they will ever face in their entire lifetimes. Let these pampered jerks continue to fool themselves. A rude awakening awaits.

  • Ron Byers on October 07, 2011 3:16 PM:

    Has the press ever confronted Romney on this lie?

    I would remind Mr. Romney that Obama got Osama.

  • amused on October 07, 2011 3:35 PM:

    Romney's too stupid to know what he's doing with the "apologize" routine. All he knows is that the teabaggers demand fealty and the whole apologize crap is a code to them that he'll repeat any stupid thing they want if only they will like him. Perry's doing the same thing. It's like "teleprompter" and "soci.alist."

  • j on October 07, 2011 3:36 PM:

    Romney was so patriotic that he hid out in France, working as a mormon missionary to avoid being drafted to Viet Nam.

  • SadOldVet on October 07, 2011 3:45 PM:

    ...Romney is shamelessly lying about this.

    Yes, Steve! Yell it loud and often! Romney is shamelessly lying.

    Don't blame the corporately owned media for doing their assigned roles as echo chambers and message amplifiers for repuknican messages!

    Which of the 6 corporations who own 94% of all of the broadcast and print media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) in the U.S. do people really believe are owned and directed by liberals? The liberal media has not existed for decades!

  • emjayay on October 07, 2011 4:01 PM:

    Every country is unique by definition.

    Christianists wingnuts (among others) depend on thinking everything about themselves is special. Their religion is the only true faith. Their imaginary God hangs on their every word and personally guides their little life. They are going to be raptured or whatever they want to call it any day now, leaving most of humanity behind to suffer in hell or somewhere. (And Jews are the Chosen People, etc.) Their country is special and annointed by their God somehow to be better than anyone else's.

    The actual Enlightenment ideas this country was founded on are available to EVERYONE. "We hold these truths to be self evident: that ALL men are created equal...."
    That is the power of these ideas: they apply to all people. And have been spreading for the past two centuries plus, and continue to. This leads to the ideas of Universal Human Rights. You know, that United Nations stuff. The black heliocopter people who want One World Govmint.

  • Cha on October 07, 2011 4:06 PM:

    The Liberal media was based on fact. The whiners couldn't handle the truth.

    The corporate owned mediawhore$$ spread lies and manufacture and manipulate the so called "news"..and, yes, that's one of their insidious lies..that it's still the "librul media". They want to take over America..how are they doin'?

    I haven't watched since 2002 when I realized what was going on after having only watched for 2 years.

    Thankfully we have the internet, so far..and sites like Steve Benen's. Thank you Steve. And, we can get in the streets since we have numbers and little eric cantor can whine they we're a "mob". Boo hoo, cantor.

  • Trollop.0 on October 07, 2011 4:16 PM:

    Okay world, I apologize for Republican lawmakers (and potential republican lawmakers)..

  • eveingeorgia on October 07, 2011 4:40 PM:


    I saw that segment on Hardball yesterday. Between Chris and Howard, I could barely stand it.
    Howard is so obviously anti-Obama that it literally oozes from him, no matter how hard he may try to be "fair".
    Schizophrenic is just the word I've been looking for to describe Chris. You never know which Chris is going to show up on any given day. I've decided that I don't care to know. So long, Chris and Howard.

  • Cal on October 07, 2011 6:09 PM:

    When romney was governor of Massachusetts he was out of the state on average of 4 days a week and he used to give speeches saying in effect "Can you believe I'm the Governor of that crazy liberal massachusetts?" He couldn't get enough bad mouthing of his state. So is the rest of the country exceptional and just not Massachusetts?

  • Doug on October 07, 2011 8:19 PM:

    Yet another reason for looking forward to that soul-satisfying moment when "mittens" get his *ss handed to him at the Republican National Convention by ANYONE!
    An amoeba has more backbone that this pitiful excuse for a human being!