Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Crowley Retreats Into Safety

Perhaps you remember this moment from primary campaign 2012:

King asked Gingrich to respond to allegations by his ex-wife that in 1999, Gingrich asked her to have an open marriage with him.

"Would you like to take some time to respond to that?" asked King.

"No, but I will," responded Gingrich, receiving loud, sustained applause from the audience.

"I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that," he said.

The audience gave Gingrich a standing ovation.

Months earlier, in a debate in Nevada, Mitt Romney tried to goad Rick Perry into a fight by putting his left hand onto the Texan's right shoulder during a heated discussion (at :33 in the video below).If Perry had responded as most of us would have, brushing Romney's hand off his shoulder or taking a swing at him, voters would be casting their ballots in two weeks for Barack Obama or Newt Gingrich.

In the first general election debate, the GOP nominee successfully bullied Jim Lehrer.  Martha Raddatz of ABC was chosen as moderator of the vice presidential debate by the Commission on Debates, which received approval from both presidential campaigns.   Barack Obama had attended Raddatz's wedding to a friend of his whom he later appointed to the FCC.   The wedding took place in 1991, the divorce in 1997, but conservatives charged bias.   Really. 

In the second presidential debate, Romney imperiously told the President by "you'll get your turn" and frequently cut off moderator Candy Crowley.  And then there was the signature exchange of the debate:

CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to...

ROMNEY: Yes, I -- I...

CROWLEY: ... quickly to this please.

ROMNEY: I -- I think interesting the president just said something which -- which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.

OBAMA: That's what I said.

ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.
It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It -- it -- it -- he did in fact, sir. So let me -- let me call it an act of terror...

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?

CROWLEY: He -- he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

Not being stupid or naive Crowley, presumably, imagined the firestorm that would be coming after she pointed out merely that the President had called the Benghazi attack "an act of terror."Following the debate, and anxious to head off inevitable , outrage from Republicans from fact-challenged Republicans, Crowley chatted (video, below) with Anderson Cooper and rationalized "I did turn around and say "But you're totally correct that they did spend two weeks telling us this was about a tape, and that there was this riot outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn't."  So he was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word."

Crowley apparently didn't say whom she turned around to talk to, nor why she would turn around in the middle of a debate.  Nor did she say what the 'wrong word' was.   Was it terror, act, spontaneous, or demonstration which a guy reportedly worth a quarter of a billion dollars who wants to be the leader or the Free World doesn't understand?

Words matter.   An attack occurs.  The next day, the President declares "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America."  Later, his opponent claims "it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghzi an actof terror."   Now, Candy Crowley is reading Mitt Romney's mind.  She just knows he must have meant something other than what he said, that he merely "picked the wrong word."   

This mirrors Romney's entire campaign, wherein he routinely denies saying something for which he is on record.  Teachers? I don't want them fired; "I love teachers."  China: we need to keep flooding the market with Chinese tires but "on day one I'll label them a currency manipulator.    Auto industry? "I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry."   That wasn't me who wrote "Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course..." 

There is a reason Mitt Romney used "the wrong word."  If he had said that after the President had declared it an "act of terror," Obama emphasized the spontaneous nature of the event, voters would have heard Romney acknowledge that Obama  had immediately labeled it as terror.  If he had argued that while Obama recognized it immediately as terrorism but the State Department emphasized an alleged spontaneity, voters might recognize that the President and (U.N. Ambassador) Susan Rice are not identical.  And in neither case would the charge have the emotional, gob-smacking quality of "it took the president 14 days" before he blamed Arab terrorists.   It would have had the advantage of not being a lie but, hey, this is a campaign, and this is the Republican nominee for President.

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