Romney Makes Checkers Foreign Policy Move In Game of Chess
Posted by Ashish on 09.13.2012
Controversial statement may become key moment in 2012 election...
When John McCain said in 2008 that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" or when he suspended his campaign to go to Washington, they ended up becoming moments that helped define the 2012 election. People took those moments to conclude that McCain was not ready to be President. The decision to suspend his campaign was a move McCain made to grab short term headlines at the cost of a long term campaign. In other words, it was a checkers move in a game of chess. It let him grab the headlines for a day or two, but forever branded him as undisciplined and not Presidential.
Mitt Romney's somewhat strange statement last night about the attack in Libya, blaming the Obama administration and going as far as to say Obama actually sympathized with the attackers without waiting for any of the facts to come in, will be a moment that could have similar repercussions. Put aside the fact that the even many in his own party, along with the left and the media, have pushed back heavily against Romney over the statement. Moments like these make people question whether Romney is ready to be the leader of America's foreign policy. Launching political attacks moments after a tragedy and suggesting the President is on the side of terrorists is the type of thing that makes people hate politics.
One thing the Romney campaign still has not figured out is that even though many Americans disapprove of the job Obama is doing as President, they don't dislike him personally. Going out and telling people that someone they personally like is actually a villain who sympathizes with terrorists is not the way to gain their support. In 2008, John McCain was very liked personally. So what you saw from the Obama campaign was that before they attacked him, they would always preface it with compliments to McCain -- about his service, about him being a good man, etc. It gave voters permission to LIKE McCain personally but STILL vote against him. Romney is not doing that. He is making it a choice between people who despise Obama in every way and people who don't. He won't win that way.
But more than anything else, Romney's remarks served up such easy ammunition for Obama to respond with, which he did today by simply saying Romney has the tendency to shoot first and aim later.
"There's a broader lesson to be learned here. Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later," Obama said in an interview with CBS News's Steve Kroft. "As president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that," Obama added. "It's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them."
Whether you agree with Obama or not isn't the point. The point is that it is not hard to see who will win this political skirmish between the two sides because Romney made an undisciplined move. He made a checkers move in a game of chess. He was able to grab headlines when he made his initial remarks, but at the cost of looking reckless and not Presidential. The "shoot first and aim later" line is likely to stick and is something Obama is now going to use to brand Romney as reckless and rash. And it was something that Romney just handed Obama, a total unforced error.
On top of it all, why is Romney trying to make a foreign policy issue bigger? Obama has a high approval rating on his job with foreign policy and it is an area where he has a strong advantage over Romney, as oppose to who is better on economic issues. By interjecting himself into this situation, Romney has ensured that foreign policy remain the topic of the week, not his strength at all, while driving more attention to Obama's foreign policy which most of the country approves of. Very curious move.
You get the feeling that the type of panicky move Romney made here is the result of all the pressure mounting on him this week, from the left, right, and media, regarding his weakening position in the election. He wanted to do something, and he wanted to be part of the foreign policy debate after largely ignoring foreign policy during his convention. And so he got his chance and jumped in. But rash decisions like this do not make him look Presidential, they make him look like he is trying too hard for a way to throw a punch. Presidential elections are a game where you have to think several moves ahead, not play for the moment.