Political Animal

Blog

January 19, 2012 3:55 PM What Romney doesn’t know about the Navy

By Steve Benen

Reader M.G. flagged a line Mitt Romney used during Monday night’s debate and asked whether the Republican frontrunner is telling the truth. Let’s take a look at the Romney quote:

“[T]he most extraordinary thing that’s happened with this military authorization is the president is planning on cutting $1 trillion out of military spending. Our Navy is smaller than it’s been since 1917…. We simply cannot continue to cut our Department of Defense budget if we are going to remain the hope of the Earth.”

Romney is actually tying a couple of lies together with this argument. For one thing, Obama isn’t planning to cut $1 trillion out of military spending; he intends to cut about $450 billion and those savings would be spread out over a full decade.

But what about the shrunken U.S. Navy? It turns out that’s a line Romney uses quite a bit on the stump, and like a little too much of the former governor’s rhetoric, it’s intended to deceive the public.

The Romney campaign says the Navy is the smallest it’s been in 95 years based on the number of ships in its fleet. But as Tim Murphy explained, this isn’t a credible metric.

[E]ven by that standard, Obama’s Navy has more ships than at any point in the last four years of the Bush administration. The Navy’s downsized fleet was a result of a decades-long reorganization rather than any Obama administration policy. More to the point, we’re getting a lot more bang for our buck — we’ve swapped dreadnoughts, monitors, and 50-gun frigates for air-craft carriers and nuclear submarines. Which would you want in a fight?

And this again leaves us with one of two options. Romney is either (1) deeply confused about military policy, and didn’t do his homework before popping off on a subject he doesn’t understand; or (2) lying, hoping to fool voters, and counting on the media not to call him on it.

It’s an either/or dynamic that comes up all the time with the Republican frontrunner.

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.

Comments

Post a comment
  • T2 on January 19, 2012 3:59 PM:

    I'll go for #2.

  • Monty on January 19, 2012 3:59 PM:

    Romney is either (1) deeply confused about military policy, and didn�t do his homework before popping off on a subject he doesn�t understand; or (2) lying, hoping to fool voters, and counting on the media not to call him on it.

    I'll take door #2: when was the last time the "news" media called out a liar?

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on January 19, 2012 4:03 PM:

    Who cares ? It plays well in the Fox addled universe of dumbfuckistan.
    They want to hear lies that reenforce what they believe.
    This coupled with a stenographer corps masquerading as as the press........

  • kindness on January 19, 2012 4:03 PM:

    Romney is lying and he knows he is lying.

  • jvwalt on January 19, 2012 4:15 PM:

    I've been doing a history project on World War I, so I can tell you that when we entered the War, we basically didn't have a Navy. (We didn't have much of an Army either; many National Guardsmen had more experience than the actual soldiers.) The closest thing we'd ever had to a foreign war was the Spanish-American in 1898, so we'd never needed much of a Navy. In 1917, they were retrofitting banana boats to transport troops to the Western Front.

    So yeah, Romney is (once again) lying through his teeth.

  • stevio on January 19, 2012 4:16 PM:

    Romney is either (1) deeply confused about military policy, and didnt do his homework before popping off on a subject he doesnt understand; or (2) lying, hoping to fool voters, and counting on the media not to call him on it.

    I'd say both. He's a liar, but also a fairly stupid human.

  • kevo on January 19, 2012 4:19 PM:

    Romney is engaging is a very slick, yet very cynical, campaign!

    His campaign rests squarely upon the strategy of racial emotionalism! Say shit about that Black Man in "our" White House, and reap the ignorant, bigoted, and supremist vote in hopes more of this demography shows up at the polls than those other interlopers who can be divided and conquered by using the strategy of racial emotionalism!

    Seemingly for Romney and his fellow Republican candidates, our nation can no longer afford the luxury of offering the vote, freedom and liberty to everyone, since they know in their racially emotional hearts and minds, such a luxury may dilute their existing political power!

    Liberals, and minorities, and bears! Oh My!-Kevo

  • majun on January 19, 2012 4:24 PM:

    "...counting on the media not to call him on it."

    He's too smart for that. He knows that the media will report what he says and that Democrats call it a lie. Next the media will state that, in fact, there are fewer ships, so it isn't a lie. What Romney is counting on is that the vast majority of voters - low information voters - will stop reading right there. And they will. The facts concerning why there are fewer ships and who actually ordered the reorganization will never be heard by most people.

  • Tom Dibble on January 19, 2012 4:24 PM:


    It's a campaign, which as we all know, is the time for baseless propaganda and non-contextual twisting of the truth until black turns white and up turns down. This is just how things are done, and we've always been at war with Eurasia.

  • beep52 on January 19, 2012 4:28 PM:

    Mitt Romney is a transparent PR/media creation. Think Max Headroom but in real life. There are still some bugs to be worked out when it comes to off-the-cuff remarks, but otherwise, every utterance is programmed.

    I used to think Palin was scary, but Mitt is like Sarah 2.0.

  • emjayay on January 19, 2012 4:33 PM:

    As Paul Krugman pointed out (and why isn't EVERYONE pointing this out?) everything in Romney's stump speech is a lie. Not puffery, not mentioning some things and omitting others, but lies. This sounds like a ridiculous exaggeration. It's not. It's true. So the navy thing is just more of the same.

    The redwood association (or whatever it was called - the logging industry) used to put out a brochure that claimed truthfully that there are more coast redwoods (the kind used for lumber) now than before logging. They failed to mention that the old ones were up to a thousand years old and about twenty feet across, and they were counting all the new ones that were a few years old and inches across.

    Romney is from a business background, where anything you can get away with in deals or advertising or management is what you do. Business ethics do not exist, only regulations and the marketplace.

  • DAY on January 19, 2012 4:43 PM:

    "Think Max Headroom but in real life. "-beep52

    Nailed it!
    Plus, Mitt does not take questions from the press.

  • bigdog on January 19, 2012 4:43 PM:

    Frankly what I'm concerned about is the lack or horses. Our army now has way fewer horses that it did in 1917 thanks to that socialist in the White House

  • Kevin (not the famous one) on January 19, 2012 4:55 PM:

    Couldn't the Navy just get some row boats (or some of those left over from the Costa Concordia) and park them at a pier someplace. Those would keep the _numbers_ up and Mitt could worry about something of significance.

    believe, colowei

  • exlibra on January 19, 2012 5:06 PM:

    Kevin (not the famous one), @4:55 PM

    I think all those Somali pirate boats that we seem to keep capturing ought to be impressed into service in the Navy, crews an'all. I bet they'd like it, too, what with a regular paycheck, health care, pension...

  • RL Alitheia on January 19, 2012 5:10 PM:

    My favorite line is at the end... "especially since we have a Muslim for president now!"

    We are in a bizarro, post-truth world, especially when it comes to the GOP perception of everything. Maybe the poll about Fox News from earlier has something to do with it.

  • Grumpy on January 19, 2012 5:29 PM:

    Y'know, once Romney realizes thinks aren't as bad under Obama as he's saying, he'll probably be very embarrassed and drop out of the race.

    "Think Max Headroom but in real life."

    Hey, Max Headroom was a hero, a champion of the downtrodden.

  • KenS on January 19, 2012 5:35 PM:

    I suspect that one well-chosen ship from today's navy could sink the entire 1917 fleet.

  • Old Uncle Dave on January 19, 2012 5:35 PM:

    Romney is giving Republican voters what they want ... All lies, all the time. Don't expect any pushback from a media whose owners are close personal friends of his.

  • Mitch on January 19, 2012 5:46 PM:

    Fun facts the news will never tell you:

    Number of Aircraft Carriers in service worldwide: 21
    (This should be considered a key issue, since Carriers are the heart of modern Navies.)

    USA: 11 (2 under construction)
    UK: 1 (2 under construction)
    France: 1
    Russia: 1
    Spain 2
    Italy: 2
    India: 1 (3 under construction)
    Brazil: 1
    Thailand: 1
    China: 0 (one under construction)

    Total number of warships in service worldwide: 2,848
    (note: this is harder to count, since some countries - like the Phillipines - have a large number of boats that are literally nothing compared to real navies like these I listed below. Some count them, I do not.)

    Top 10
    USA: 341
    Russia: 282
    China: 214
    India: 122
    Japan: 109
    Royal Navy: 100
    North Korea: 98
    South Korea: 90
    France: 73
    Italy: 70

    When you consider our numerical and technological superiority, it seems paranoid and pathetic for anyone to say we can't afford to shrink the Navy a bit.

  • William Eaton on January 19, 2012 5:48 PM:

    Bigdog got it right:

    "Our army now has way fewer horses that it did in 1917 thanks to that socialist in the White House"

    What is so surreal to me is how this stuff is floated to the base and there is no self awareness regarding the absurdity. Be it regarding any of the sciences, economics, biology.... on and on.

  • cmdicely on January 19, 2012 7:11 PM:

    Number of Aircraft Carriers in service worldwide: 21
    (This should be considered a key issue, since Carriers are the heart of modern Navies.)

    USA: 11 (2 under construction)
    UK: 1 (2 under construction)
    France: 1
    Russia: 1
    Spain 2
    Italy: 2
    India: 1 (3 under construction)
    Brazil: 1
    Thailand: 1
    China: 0 (one under construction)

    This is rather misleading--its actually a much bigger imbalance than you present. This is counting only the US Navy's supercarriers in the U.S. count and not the smaller amphibious carriers from which Marine forces operate, but is counting rest-of-world carriers that are more on par with (and generally, still smaller and less capable than) the smaller Marine carriers and not even remotely comparable to the large-deck USN carriers.

    More accurately, the US has 11 large-deck carriers and the rest of the world has none, and on top of that the US has 9 smaller carriers which stack up against the numbers you list plus a handful of additional amphibious carriers in the rest of the world -- the US advantage in carrier-based aviation is vastly greater than you present.

    And that's even before considering things like the fact that while Thailand has a (very small) aircraft carrier, it hasn't been able to maintain operational aircraft to from the carrier, and its mostly been used as a transport for the Royal Family, leading to it being called the most expensive royal yacht in the world.

  • schtick on January 19, 2012 7:14 PM:

    Coming from a family that has been in the military, with close friends in the military, especially during wartime from WWII to the present, I dispise anyone, especially a yellow chicken hawk that ran instead of serving trying to wave a flag for the military. It's out and out bullshit.
    One of the reasons I hated Bush, I hate Cheney, I hate most members of the tealiban party. They send everyone else's children to die in war then ignore them, refuse to respect them, refuse to support them with the VA, or in any other way. All the while they talk like they know the military when they haven't a freaking clue. They make me ill.

  • Rabbler on January 19, 2012 8:11 PM:

    Mitt can truthfully say that the Native Americans 200 years ago had a bigger navy than we have now.

  •  
  •  
  •