One more item on the embassy attack aftermath, this time from sci fi writer John Scalzi: You never go full McCain.
Here’s the thing about Mitt Romney: He’s a Republican candidate for president in the unenviable bind of not being able to run on any sort of record at all.
Scalzi goes on to describe the pernicious circumstances that prevent Romney from running on his record as a businessman, or as governor of Massachusetts, or on his economic plan. All true.
Constrained as he is, he’s got nothing he can actually use to make a case for himself but himself – Mitt Romney, with that genial smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes, that head of hair strategically left to gray at the temples, and that paternal aura of competence that says, hey, trust me, put me in the job and we’ll deal with all those silly fiddly details later. And you know what? With the economy still farting about and Obama still being as cuddly as a prickly pear, and Romney having a bunch of SuperPACs willing to shovel money until there’s not a swing state that’s not carpetbombed with ads, this had a reasonably good chance of working. But ultimately it only works if you actually trust Romney – or alternately, have no reason to distrust Romney – to make sane, responsible and intelligent decisions.
Which is why Romney blew up his chance to be president this week: He showed, manifestly, that he’s indeed capable of making horrible, awful, very bad, no good, terrible choices. First, by deciding that a foreign crisis, generally considered to be off-limits for bald, obvious politicking, would be an excellent time to engage in some bald, obvious politicking. Second, by making a statement slamming the president while the crisis was still in the process of developing and getting worse. Third, by blaming the president for an action he had no hand in (the press release from the under siege embassy) and which his administration had disavowed. Fourth, when after the facts of the events became clear, and it became clear that Romney’s statement had some serious factual holes in it, for doubling down at a press conference on assertions everyone knew by that time weren’t correct.
Scalzi goes on to talk about the tie-in to McCain’s goofy attempt to “suspend” the campaign in 2008 so he could duck the debates and return to Washington to solve the financial crisis. And for all that they’re completely different scenarios, the two events really do feel to me like they vibrate at the same frequency in terms of domestic politics.
Maybe I’m jumping too hard on the “this is the end for Romney” thing. We’ll see. And coming out of the conventions it was going badly for him already, so even if he does crash and burn from this point forward, it will be impossible to tie it to this incident alone. But sometimes something really does look so obvious that a collective, shared response emerges. And the collective, shared response I’m expecting to come from this is, “gah. This man has no business at all being President.”