I think we have a winner

by Henry on February 7, 2008

CT readers who have been around for a long time may remember a “couple”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/08/12/trahisons-des-clercs/ of “posts”:https://crookedtimber.org/2005/08/16/witchfinders-general/ I wrote in response to Eugene Volokh way back in 2005, asking for instances of prominent “commentators mak[ing] egregious claims that a substantial section of those who opposed the war are, in fact, rooting for the other side.” Now, CT readers came up with quite a number of ripe examples, but if there were still a Golden Eugene [UPDATE: since Eugene has since described Romney’s comments as ‘over the top’ in an update to his “original post”:http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_02_03-2008_02_09.shtml#1202406769 on the topic, it’s a bit unfair to name the award after him] award to be handed out, I think I’d be giving it to Mitt Romney for “this claim”:http://tpmelectioncentral.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/02/romney_staying_in_race_would_h.php in his forthcoming concession speech.

“If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

Now I suppose that he’s not quite saying that Clinton and Obama _support_ the terrorists; merely that they’re going to surrender to them (perhaps he’s even prepared to concede that they would surrender America to the forces of evil with reluctance and heavy hearts). But he’s also the Republican also-ran, who might have been an outright winner in a slightly more favourable political climate. You don’t get much more prominent than that. Also implicit iis that Mike Huckabee, if not quite a terrorist-surrender-monkey, is surely a terrorist-surrender-monkey-enabler as long as he stays in the race and delays the anointment of McCain. Finally, I understand from reliable sources that this isn’t even the _creepiest part of the speech._ The Republicans are a very, very messed up political party.

{ 51 comments }

1

Kieran Healy 02.07.08 at 7:31 pm

Also implicit is that Mike Huckabee, if not quite a terrorist-surrender-monkey, is surely a terrorist-surrender-monkey-enabler

This is obviously false. Mike Huckabee believes neither himself nor terrorists share a common ancestor with monkeys of any description.

2

KD 02.07.08 at 7:39 pm

Maybe Mitt Romney is too much of a cheapskate to loan himself money like Hillary had to do.

3

Grand Moff Texan 02.07.08 at 7:41 pm

Who cares what Mitt says? Five minutes later, he’ll believe something else.
.

4

derek 02.07.08 at 8:09 pm

I remember when the husband of one of the candidates surrendered several tons of American weapons to terrorists in Sudan.

Of course, then the Republicans said it was just a trivial “wag the dog” airstrike to distract them from the very important business of an impeachment over a blowjob.

5

joel hanes 02.07.08 at 8:59 pm

I remember when the Republican administration secretly sold tons of armaments to Iran, in an era when actual Iranian terrorists were holding actual Americans hostage.
And used the proceeds to fund a private right-wing terrorist force in Central America, in violation of American law and the Constitution.

6

kharris 02.07.08 at 9:14 pm

Any suggestions as to Romney’s motive? I’m serious. Assuming a man who could turn a silver spoon into a silver mine isn’t stupid, he must realize what he said is a massive pile of horse plop. I’ve never been close enough to a billionaire to know whether their disdain for honest opinion is so great as to see a whopper like that as a freebie, but on the assumption even the stinking rich desire the good opinion of honest people, Romney must want something pretty badly to say what he said. Any guesses?

7

Righteous Bubba 02.07.08 at 9:24 pm

Assuming a man who could turn a silver spoon into a silver mine isn’t stupid, he must realize what he said is a massive pile of horse plop.

He did choose to waste a sizeable chunk of his own fortune to carry on adopt the dream of one of the worst presidents ever. I don’t see much wrong in thinking he’s kinda dumb.

8

kharris 02.07.08 at 9:38 pm

rb,

Even assuming Mitt is no smarter than Bush, can we assume that being part of the gang, so mindless partisans would still like him, was sufficient motive to say something so vile? I’m really curious about why people in politics, and people who admire them, are so casually dishonest. Getting something for your trouble I understand, but they seem to sully themselves well past the point that it does them any good.

9

JohnTh 02.07.08 at 9:39 pm

Logically, if we were going to see the real Mitt this would be the day. And it turns out he really was a highly religious, liberal hating, xenophobic nutcase. I find myself genuinely surprised…

10

Slocum 02.07.08 at 9:40 pm

I remember when the Republican administration secretly sold tons of armaments to Iran, in an era when actual Iranian terrorists were holding actual Americans hostage.

Really? Do you also remember that the hostages were freed the day Reagan took office? His administration must truly have worked at warp speed to get those tons of armaments sold in the minutes between his official swearing in and the hostage release. Iran-contra was a clusterf**k, but let’s not rewrite history.

As for Romney’s statement — this is a preview of the campaign to come, particularly if Obama is the nominee (as looks likely — to me, anyway). McCain will almost certainly characterize Obama’s plan for unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq as quickly as possible as, well, unconditional surrender.

Obama has said that prevention of genocide would be no reason to stay in Iraq, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe he’s ever said that he would keep forces U.S. forces in Iraq to prevent Iraqi government from being overthrown by Al Qaeda. So McCain may make some headway with the ‘surrender’ charge.

I would say that Obama’s position on the war on terror is at least a bit schizophrenic at this point. He’d pull out of Iraq, but redouble efforts in Afghanistan and has said he would carry out bombing raids in Pakistan with or without the permission of the Pakistan government. What’s the rationale? Is Al Queda less invested in Iraq than Afghanistan? Is the war in Iraq going worse than the one in Afghanistan? Are the Iraqi people less worthy of defense from Al Queda? Is the U.S. obligation to the Iraqis less than to the Afghans? Yes, the justifications for the two wars were very different, but why is that the critical factor now?

Of course, Obama may well modify his position on Iraq if and when he secures the nomination. And the same arguments would not apply to Hillary in the first place.

11

Katherine 02.07.08 at 9:46 pm

I remember when the actions of a spouse didn’t necessarily mean the other spouse approved of or even had anything to do with it. Shock horror – Hillary is not Bill.

12

Troll 02.07.08 at 10:02 pm

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n thr wrds, y rn’t vn mkng yr wn pnt.

Sk

13

Righteous Bubba 02.07.08 at 10:05 pm

Even assuming Mitt is no smarter than Bush, can we assume that being part of the gang, so mindless partisans would still like him, was sufficient motive to say something so vile?

Sure. Note that Mitt playing to the easily-riled boobs will not grant him admission to the gang, as the Fear Of Huckabee demonstrates.

14

Matt 02.07.08 at 10:09 pm

Slocum- the “arms for hostages” trades undertaken by the Reagan administration took place several years after he took office. You do remember this, right?

15

Daverz 02.07.08 at 10:15 pm

Slocum, those weren’t the hostages in question. A little googling would have told you that.

16

MR. Bill 02.07.08 at 10:18 pm

Re: 7, 8, 13 and others: We must never forget that stupidity hath it’s complex forms.
Self delusion is a common one.
I heard the clip cited above and was furious, that it equated opposing the war in Iraq to weakness on terrorism and surrendering to terrorism.
And Matt @ 14, it has been suggested and appears possible Reagan’s people intervened to keep the Embassy hostages captive to hurt Jimmy Carter and help Reagan.
( see http://www.consortiumnews.com/2006/092106a.html 0

17

Jay B. 02.07.08 at 10:25 pm

Do you also remember that the hostages were freed the day Reagan took office? His administration must truly have worked at warp speed to get those tons of armaments sold in the minutes between his official swearing in and the hostage release. Iran-contra was a clusterf**k, but let’s not rewrite history.

You’re right! I knew Terry Anderson and the rest of those mealy-mouthed motherfuckers in Beruit who “claimed” to be kidnapped by Iranian-supported Hezbollah agents were lying! Thanks Mr. Superpatriot All-The-Facts Historian!

18

Walt 02.07.08 at 10:27 pm

Wow, slocum, that’s embarrassing. Joel Hanes was referring to completely different hostages.

19

Zane 02.07.08 at 10:40 pm

Any suggestions as to Romney’s motive? I’m serious.

He doesn’t want to come out and say that he’s out of the race because he can’t win. Rather, he’s magnanimously sacrificing his own personal ambitions — which he could totally achieve if he wanted to — for the greater good. The implication is that McCain is willing to “let his campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

20

Northern Observer 02.07.08 at 10:45 pm

And you know, some of the top counter terrorism minds have stated that trading Iraq for a larger focus in Afghanistan Pakistan IS the best move the US can make, so …

The Iraq war will end as it began, as a republican party war designed to improve republican electoral prospects. The depravity is so galling that most are afraid to even consider the possibility.

21

greensmile 02.07.08 at 11:16 pm

might Volokh protest that Romney is a synthetic candidate and demand you find a real person who is making these toxic claims;?)

22

Jay B. 02.07.08 at 11:35 pm

but I don’t believe he’s ever said that he would keep forces U.S. forces in Iraq to prevent Iraqi government from being overthrown by Al Qaeda..

This is pure fantasy and as idiotic as worrying that NYC will be subject to sharia law under the global caliphate. It’ll never happen.

Why? Because Al Queda is wildly unpopular in Iraq. To the extent they have “influence” there at all, it’s as terrorists. We’ve seen that Sunni Iraqi and Sunni Kurds have been hunting them down — something that wouldn’t stop regardless of what the feel about the US occupation. And the Shiite majority would never ever let them live either. Hatred of foreign influences might be one thing that cuts across the Iraqi people.

It’s absurd on its face. Might as well ask Obama if he’s coming out in favor of Bush’s Mars Exploration program.

This is what happens when you actually believe the US propaganda that every bad thing that happens in Iraq is a direct result of Al Queda.

Bad people might run Iraq, but bad people might be running Iraq right now, regardless of what we’re doing.

23

fardels bear 02.07.08 at 11:54 pm

So, when Reagan went on national television and explained that what his administration was doing was “trading arms for hostages” he was, in fact confused? Here’s the transcript:

http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1987/030487h.htm

24

Jay B. 02.08.08 at 12:30 am

fardels bear,

good point, although, to be fair, Reagan was confused a lot by that point in his presidency.

He might have thought he was trading arms for postages at that point.

25

Dr Zen 02.08.08 at 12:47 am

slocum is somewhat right about Afghanistan though. It’s the “good war” that many centrists support, and there’s political gain to be made from supporting its further prosecution. Most rational people realise that the “enemy” in Iraq is not Al Qaida, but they are happy to agree that we’re only fighting the hideously nasty Taliban in Afghanistan. And he could, as president, “win” Afghanistan. Also, few American presidents have lost popularity by bombing places. It’s a way to be seen to be “doing something” without its costing you a lot of blood and treasure.

26

Barry 02.08.08 at 1:16 am

Any suggestions as to Romney’s motive? I’m serious. Assuming a man who could turn a silver spoon into a silver mine isn’t stupid, he must realize what he said is a massive pile of horse plop. I’ve never been close enough to a billionaire to know whether their disdain for honest opinion is so great as to see a whopper like that as a freebie, but on the assumption even the stinking rich desire the good opinion of honest people, Romney must want something pretty badly to say what he said. Any guesses?”

Posted by kharris

Romney was serving the GOP’s interest. At this point, he had little prospect of getting the election. His withdrawal pretty much hands it to McCain, with little further bother and cost to McCain or the GOP. He lost the competition, and is supporting the winners. By dropping out now, and supporting McCain, he’s making himself right with the powers-that-be in the GOP.

Bubba: “He did choose to waste a sizeable chunk of his own fortune to carry on adopt the dream of one of the worst presidents ever. I don’t see much wrong in thinking he’s kinda dumb.”

He’s got a lot of money to burn. That monetary loss is nothing which will cause him other than intellectual grief, and the moneycons will probably make it up to him.

27

Anderson 02.08.08 at 1:31 am

N.b. that Volokh and Orin Kerr both criticize Romney’s phrase — “quite over-the-top,” says Volokh; “pathetic,” says Kerr.

28

rm 02.08.08 at 4:31 am

I heard another creepy part excerpted on NPR. Romney warned that unless a Republican leads the nation, the U.S. will become “the France of the 21st century [pause for loud boos from the audience], still a great nation but not a superpower.”

This is the kind of stuff that makes the world hate us and think we’re idiots. And they are right — it’s idiotic.

29

Matt McIrvin 02.08.08 at 4:43 am

There was also a bit in there about the “demographic disaster” overtaking Europe as “the inevitable product of weakened faith in the Creator, failed families, disrespect for the sanctity of human life and eroded morality”–which, translated into normal language, is a bit of classic fearmongering about how the Arabs are taking over Europe because the white people there are too atheist, too gay and too fond of abortion.

30

P O'Neill 02.08.08 at 4:54 am

How did this guy ever get elected governor of Massachusetts? His demeanour today was strongly suggestive of this being the real Mitt, someone who truly believes that the USA is under siege with Europe in terminal decline and being outperformed economically by Asia. And also far more up for culture wars than he had previously let on (note the sections of the speech about marriage and the family). He got tagged as a liberal for having moderated some of this stuff while governor, and for the health insurance reform, but maybe the latter was just businessman Mitt seeing that it was the only way to go. So did Mass. elect a phony liberal? And why didn’t he run his campaign as this type of conservative?

31

Roy Belmont 02.08.08 at 5:29 am

Joel Hanes, indeed.
Slipping by in the noise from slocum’s ahistorical gaffe His administration must truly have worked at warp speed to get those tons of armaments sold in the minutes between … is the astonishing tacit claim that whoever and whatever put Mr. Show Business into the Presidency and kept him there for eight long horrifying years was unable to negotiate discreetly and covertly for the Hollywood-perfect opening day.
Guys who were later proven to have been buying and selling drugs all over the world, including urban ghettos in the US, using federal agencies and agents, to fund their Latin American nastiness. But that was
after they got into office, with all the magic power being official confers. Because of course before that their hands were tied, as far as clandestine activities went.

32

Henry (not the famous one) 02.08.08 at 6:31 am

If you need a name for the award, try the Tailgunner Joe award. All Mitt needed was a list of 53 terrorist accomplices. He projects the same air of absolute indifference to the truth covered by crowd-pleasing rhetoric.

33

praisegod barebones 02.08.08 at 7:49 am

the U.S. will become “the France of the 21st century”

Oh, if only! In any sane world,that would be a slogan to campaign under…

34

stostosto 02.08.08 at 8:20 am

“Cynicism, sarcasm, orgasm. In France I could run on that slogan and win.”

Woody Allen.

35

stostosto 02.08.08 at 8:21 am

(Actually, it seems like Sarkozy has come close to that).

36

stostosto 02.08.08 at 8:49 am

(With this slogan: “Cynicism, Sarkozy, orgasm”, of course).

37

bad Jim 02.08.08 at 9:36 am

The racist right fears that McCain may be insufficiently fearful that America will become too comfortable with Mexican immigrants. Remember that the guy has a black baby of his own.

38

h. 02.08.08 at 11:28 am

Romney’s “France of the 21st century” line is old. He first used it in 2005:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/11/16/romney_joins_a_chorus_of_france_bashers/

39

Slocum 02.08.08 at 11:58 am

Why? Because Al Queda is wildly unpopular in Iraq. To the extent they have “influence” there at all, it’s as terrorists. We’ve seen that Sunni Iraqi and Sunni Kurds have been hunting them down—something that wouldn’t stop regardless of what the feel about the US occupation.

Yes, well, Saddam was widely unpopular as well. But popularity has obviously never been Al Queda’s goal in Iraq — lethal violence, fear and intimidation can be extremely effective alternatives to popularity. And I think it highly unlikely that the Sunnis in Anbar could have kicked out Al Queda on their own. But I agree that things have been going badly enough for Al Queda in Iraq that they may no longer be a viable threat by November. Which would be fine, since I’m not a McCain fan, and in most other respect would prefer Obama. Still, I would much rather see a residual U.S. presence to deter militias from being tempted to try to take down the Iraqi government by force.

And apologies for the brain cramp on the hostages.

40

Danielle Day 02.08.08 at 1:31 pm

We had a great representative in Illinois, Dan Rostenkowski. When he was in Chicago, you could call his office, and he’d answer the phone personally– and deliver if you wanted those potholes on your street fixed. Anyway, he got caught with his hand in the till. He stonewalled up till the last, and did a few months in the pen. When asked why politicians lie he said “Most of the time, it works.”

I met Reagan and heard him speak in, oh, about 1986. He was a powerful personal “presence”, to be sure, but he completely blew his speech (he mixed up the 3×5 index cards. Really). He pulled it off by ad-libbing his way through it, but he was starting to lose it even then. I felt sorry for the guy, but it made us wonder who was really running things in DC.

41

Keith 02.08.08 at 2:06 pm

As Jon Stewart put it on A Daily Show last night, France is the France of the 21st century. Not that aspiring to that would be altogether a bad thing.

Clearly, Americans wouldn’t know what to do with world class health care, five weeks paid vacation, a 34 hour work week and all the cheese and wine we can eat.

42

Answer Guy 02.08.08 at 2:08 pm

How did this guy ever get elected governor of Massachusetts?

Assuming this speech reflects anything like the real Mitt Romney(which itself assumes there is any such thing) as opposed to what he perceives that the knuckle draggers at CPAC want to hear, he lied and misrepresented himself.

But it’s just as likely that this is simply another case of his telling his audience what he thinks they want to hear.

43

MattF 02.08.08 at 2:48 pm

The only ‘for sure’ thing about Romney is his ambition. Therefore, it’s safe to infer that dissing the Democratic candidates advances Romney’s interests in some way. I don’t know exactly how– but one don’t have to be clairvoyant or telepathic to make some plausible guesses.

44

P O'Neill 02.08.08 at 4:18 pm

Is there still time for a late entry from George W. Bush?

We believe our nation has the right to defend itself — even if sometimes others disagree

45

feckless 02.08.08 at 4:25 pm

MOMMY’S ALRIGHT
DADDY’S ALRIGHT
THEY JUST SEEM A LITTLE WEIRD
SURRENDER
SURRENDER
BUT DON’T GIVE YOURSELF AWAY..AY…AY…AY!!!!

I will miss you Bishop Mittens.

46

Begonia Buzzkill 02.08.08 at 4:55 pm

Before his exit speech at the Sociopaths R Us conference, the press was reporting his staff quoting that he was leaving due to lack of delegates and funding.
We all witnessed Romney’s saying nothing of the kind to his minions while bashing slutty breeding Americans motivated by porn. He never mentioned his problems with delegates and funding…(a photo capture shows him flipping the bird during his uncouth “rant” (others noted his Freudian BLUE tie).

Secondly, didn’t he say that he “suspended his campaign”? If he did only “suspend” he then is not obliged to release his delegates to another candidate, right? Seems a bratty move but considering the parsing of his speech he sounded more like a guy lecturing his party’s base about what they weren’t going to get by not voting for him – his tone was more of a man feeling betrayed.
If my memory holds, “suspending the campaign” was a deliberate obstinate act since delegates are key at this time.

47

Batocchio 02.08.08 at 6:31 pm

Well, at least Romney won something, then.

It really was the most loathsome speech I’ve heard in a while, mainly because of the section you highlighted.

48

Goseph Gerbils 02.08.08 at 7:02 pm

the U.S. will become “the France of the 21st century”

Why not – the U.S. of 2008 is behaving not unlike the France of 1808.

49

Charles 02.08.08 at 8:02 pm

Romney did in fact loan his own money to his campaign. Combined with the tax benefits and the interest rate he’s charging “himself,” it could be the most lucrative financial move he’s ever made.

50

yabonn 02.08.08 at 11:32 pm

Sadly, the compliment that is this animosity of a certain part of the US opinion against France is mostly undeserved.

The elections municipales are coming soon, though : all hope is not lost.

51

Helen 02.11.08 at 1:14 am

If “the Eugene” is no longer useful, you might want to nominate Mitt’s remarks for an Agincourt Award
(for the longest bow) from the people at Larvatus Prodeo.

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