Political Animal


December 22, 2011 9:55 AM Romney picks a fight over bin Laden

By Steve Benen

Of all the issues Republican presidential candidates want to talk about, the U.S. mission that killed Osama bin Laden should be near the bottom. It’s not complicated: there’s no GOP upside for reminding Americans about one of President Obama’s triumphs.

It was curious, then, that Mitt Romney went on Fox News and picked a fight over this. In reference to Republicans, the former one-term governor who doesn’t know anything about national security policy said, “We’re delighted that he gave the order to take out Osama bin Laden. Any president would have done that.”

The problem, of course, is that this isn’t true. In fact, we know a President Romney wouldn’t have ordered the same strike because he’s said so.

During Romney’s first presidential campaign, he took an entirely passive attitude towards the al Qaeda leader, saying “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth” to get the terrorist responsible for 9/11. Around the same time, Romney said he would not order a strike into Pakistan to get bin Laden, rejecting Obama’s willingness “to enter an ally of ours” to target the terrorist leader.

As for the notion that the president’s decision in May was easy and obvious — something that “any president would have done” — the DNC has a very good video out this morning showing just how “courageous” and “gutsy” Obama’s decision really was.

In general, it seems that Romney should just avoid talking about national security, foreign policy, and international affairs altogether. His only experience is traipsing around France for a few years, and whenever Romney tries to sound intelligent on the subject, he comes across like an idiot.

Yesterday, he flip-flopped on Iraq. A few weeks ago, Romney couldn’t answer a question about an al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabab, controlling significant territory in Somalia.

Romney’s take on Iran is gibberish. His call for a trade war with China is hopelessly insane. He’s under the false impression that there are “insurgents” in Iran.

Worse, Romney keeps failing these tests. Remember the time Romney told ABC News he would “set a deadline for bringing the troops home” from Iraq — but only if it’s a secret deadline? How about the time Romney, more than four years into the war in Iraq, said it’s “entirely possible” that Saddam Hussein hid weapons of mass destruction in Syria prior to the 2003 invasion? Or the time Romney pretended “Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood” were all the same thing? How about my personal favorite: the time Romney made the bizarre assertion that IAEA weapons inspectors were not allowed entry into Saddam Hussein’s Iraq?

More recently, Romney tried to trash the New START nuclear treaty in an op-ed, prompting Fred Kaplan to respond, “In 35 years of following debates over nuclear arms control, I have never seen anything quite as shabby, misleading and — let’s not mince words — thoroughly ignorant as Mitt Romney’s attack on the New START treaty.”

Everyone got a good laugh at Herman Cain and Rick Perry for coming across as dumb on these issues, but Romney is every bit as big a joke.

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.


Post a comment
  • Rathskeller on December 22, 2011 10:03 AM:

    Sure, "any president", unless you also ignore the previous president, George W. Bush, who disbanded the search for Osama bin Laden in 2006.

  • SYSPROG on December 22, 2011 10:05 AM:

    ANY President would have done it? Then why DIDN'T they?

  • stormskies on December 22, 2011 10:11 AM:

    The utter ignorance and stupidity of buffoon Romney only reflects the utter ignorance and buffoon nature of the Repiglican party itself, and the vast majority of those who in fact vote for Repiglicans. It takes a cretin to vote for a cretin.

  • schtick on December 22, 2011 10:12 AM:

    The bullshit with the IAEA was all over the news and blogs and promoted by "those" people now known as the tealiban. How many times I read inspectors were not allowed in Iraq or kicked out of Iraq or were not allowed to inspect anything.
    You know it all came from them just like the bull that Valerie was a clerk at the CIA. And people believe it and repeat it. Sad that so many are elected that repeat it.

  • c u n d gulag on December 22, 2011 10:14 AM:

    It appears that "stupid" is the new minimum in Republican Presidential candidates.

    If you're not a total idiot, you have no chance of appealing to a base of total imbeciles.

    Even insular Little Boots knew more about the world than this crop of idiotic, amoral, mental defectives.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on December 22, 2011 10:14 AM:

    Mitt Romney, our next president, should have a long memory and use the new powers of the presidency to 'disappear' any and all suspected and/or potential American terrists.

    Obviously, with his continuous ridiculing of President Romney, Steve Benen is one of the terrists who should be extraordinarily renditioned and tortured until he confesses that he is a closet Jihadist. Whether it is President Romney or King Gingrich, Benen should expect his next 'vacation' to last more than two days.

  • Danp on December 22, 2011 10:19 AM:

    Part of the brilliance of the ad is that Romney already has a complete lack of political courage. This is a guy who doesn't dare endorse a Republican referendum in Ohio, a Republican position on the debt ceiling fight, either position on the current UI/Fica debate, etc. Unlike his bellicose opponents, Romney is a full-fledged coward.

  • Josef K on December 22, 2011 10:26 AM:

    It was curious, then, that Mitt Romney went on Fox News and picked a fight over this.

    Are we sure LSD wasn't involved here? Or that he hadn't drunk a "Kamakazi" beforehand?

    When is Romney going to start wearing a top hat with a "10/6" note stuck in it? Who is his running mate going to be: the Cheshire Cat or the March Hare?

  • Butch on December 22, 2011 10:32 AM:

    LSD, LDS, easy to make a mistake...

  • Alan Tomlinson on December 22, 2011 10:35 AM:

    Mr. Benen,

    Although I assume that Mr. Romney would be a miserable POTUS, using the word traipsing with respect to his time in France makes you sound like jackass who is more interested in belittling than informing. I mention this because you do this frequently, and while I would hope that we both roughly share the same goals politically(I suspect that you are far, far too conservative for my tastes) I think you do us both, and many others a disservice by coming across this way.


    Alan Tomlinson

  • stevio on December 22, 2011 10:40 AM:

    “In 35 years of following debates over nuclear arms control, I have never seen anything quite as shabby, misleading and — let’s not mince words — thoroughly ignorant as Mitt Romney’s attack on the New START treaty.”

    Yeh, but he's got great hair...

  • Gus on December 22, 2011 10:50 AM:

    As Mr. Tomlinson demonstrates, Mitt Romney is a screaming indictment of our religious, educational and social systems where so many people can be so incredibly deficient in critical thinking skills and so devoid of any sense of personal integrity. If America elects Romney, then it will get what it deserves. Too bad the rest of the world will be subjected to the carnage that will follow.

  • jomo on December 22, 2011 10:56 AM:

    Courage may be Romney's Achilles heel. He refuses to take a position that he doesn't change. He takes potshots at people from a safe distance. He doesn't do press interviews. Ultimately he is just a coward.

  • Rossdog 356 on December 22, 2011 11:03 AM:

    And don't forget the quote from a couple days ago on Fox news (surprise!) that the "UN issued resolutions and authorized the invasion of Iraq". WHat a completely ignorant fool.

  • heckblazer on December 22, 2011 11:30 AM:

    I wonder if Romney was thinking of the MEK when he said there were insurgents in Iran. The group has been trying to overthrow the Islamic government of Iran since it came to power. Working with them would be a bad idea though. They have their own nasty humans rights record and are on the State Department's terrorist list.N

  • slappy magoo on December 22, 2011 11:50 AM:

    Don't overthink it.

    Getting bin Laden was a big deal. Therefore, Republicans have no choice but to insist it wasn't a big deal and demand that you also think it wasn't a big deal. If they're successful (as they often are), Obama will seem almost petty for bringing up a "hollow victory" "everyone" has already decided isn't worth mentioning.

    If you're allowed to keep changing the rules of the game, you never lose.

  • TCinLA on December 22, 2011 11:51 AM:

    His only experience is traipsing around France for a few years,

    Actually, Europe is seen as the least-productive region for Mormon missionaries, so Romney going there was just rich daddy using his influence in the church to put sonny-boy where his incompetence wouldn't be noted since no one else would be getting any converts either, and it kept sonny-boy away from Vietnam, like the rest of the rich Republican draft-dodgers. And I doubt he lived in an unfurnished room with just a sleeping bag, like real Mormon missionaries do.

  • ManOutOfTime on December 22, 2011 12:13 PM:

    Yeah, unlike all those other topics where Mittens sound so smart. "I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T! I mean S-M-A-R-T ...!"

  • TuiMel on December 22, 2011 3:00 PM:

    Rommney is so friggin' feckless. He wants to "double Guantanamo" and thinks "any President" would make the call Obama made vis a vis the raid to get Bin Laden. And yet, his son is a "hero" for campaigning in Iowa. Willard is such an MBA.