But I think we're really jumping to conclusions if we assume the public knows that politics should stop at the water's edge and one shouldn't politicize a tragedy until a decent interval has passed and all that. Also, I think we're giving the public too much credit if we expect them to have instantly absorbed the timeline. They don't necessarily know that the embassy statement came out before the Egypt protests started, or that Romney didn't realize people were dead in Benghazi when he went political.
On the latter, I don't think we should assume the public cares. These niceties make sense to Beltway insiders and politics junkies. I don't know if they make sense to ordinary voters.
That's a decent argument, going back to my 45-45% theory that 90% of America has already made up its mind, and that the last 10% won't care until November 1st. FOX has already completely ignored the facts of the timeline, and we're already seeing the "Media in the tank for Obama" argument from the right again, bringing us to the second half of Steve's theory, that the only gaffe was lack of security that got our Ambassador killed. Mitt did nothing wrong...
Americans were attacked in Libya and Egypt by members of a religious faith a lot of the U.S. public has grown to despise, or at least to be very wary of. There was inadequate security in the Benghazi attack, and (as anyone who watched Rachel Maddow's show tonight knows) there have been plenty of signs of a threat to U.S. interests in Libya since the drone killing of a top Al Qaeda figure, Abu Yahya al-Libi -- a Libyan -- in June. So I'm sorry, but the Obama administration has some vulnerabilities on the question of whether there was adequate vigilance.
I'm more inclined to believe that the FOX propaganda machine will simply scream ALL MUZZIES ARE EVIL OBAMA'S IN CAHOOTS HE LET THEM DIE and then the Village will be "forced" to retract its very correct statements on Romney's mendacity.
In the end, after a night's sleep to reflect, I can't discount that there's an decent chance that FOX and friends will be able to turn what should have been a fatal blow to Romney's campaign into a "both sides do it" moment, and in fact even "Obama's fall of the Shah" moment. We're seeing that go into effect now. How effective it will be, well gosh, how effective has FOX News been over the last 15 years?
Having said that, the non-FOX media is brutal in its frank assessment of Romney's suitability for President. Gail Collins chronicles "Mitt's Major Meltdown":
It didn’t seem to be a lot to ask, but when the crisis in the Middle East flared up, Romney turned out to have no restraining inner core. All the uneasy feelings you got when he went to London and dissed the Olympic organizers can now come into full bloom. Feel free to worry about anything. That he’d declare war on Malta. Lock himself in a nuclear missile silo and refuse to come out until there’s a tax cut. Hand the country over to space aliens.Here is the Republican candidate for president of the United States on Wednesday, explaining why he broke into a moment of rising international tension and denounced the White House as “disgraceful” for a mild statement made by the American Embassy in Cairo about the importance of respecting other people’s religions:“They clearly — they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And — and the statement came from the administration — and the embassy is the administration — the statement that came from the administration was a — was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a — a — a severe miscalculation.”Feel free to reread this when you’re staring at the ceiling at 4 a.m.
So as with everything else, Mitt will survive this. If he does lose however, this is the moment where the historians will say the turning point happened and Mitt lost the ball game.