Here’s what Mitt Romney said about U.S. policy in Syria, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and Afghanistan: “What he said.”
Romney who, throughout the Republican primaries, breathed fire and all but threatened one war after another, sounded reasonable and measured. People listening in for the first time (if that’s possible) would see Latter Day Shapeshifter as a moderate Republican internationalist.
This is wholly dishonest. But the neoconservatives and other right-wingers who have rejoiced at having Romney as their sock puppet will likely keep their lips zipped because ousting Barack Obama is more important to them than being honest or consistent when they know their positions are unpopular.
Obama was patronizing for effect. “You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” Obama told Romney. “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have ships going under water, nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships, but what our capabilities are.”
That “date certain” for getting out of Afghanistan that just a minute ago Romney said was a terrible mistake? Romney now thinks it’s just swell. Drones? Doing a heck of a job, Barack.
Maybe this will work, and Romney will convince some numbnut voters he’s not just a flip-floppin’ opportunist. But his attempt to present a small target may have backfired when he tried to portray himself as a moderate man when it came to bailing out the auto industry where, as every schoolchild in Toledo knows, he actually argued to let the car makers go bankrupt.
We take you now to Mediaite, which did a great job of summing up the exchange and its importance.
“My plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks,” Romney continued. “It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagreed with that. I said these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees, but they need to go through a bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden that they had built up.”
“Governor Romney that’s not what you said,” President Obama cut in.
“You can take a look at the op-ed. I am still speaking,” Romney snipped. “I said we would provide guarantees and that is what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy, to come out of bankruptcy. Under no circumstances would I do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. And the idea that as has been suggested that I would liquidate the industry, of course not.”
“Let’s check the record,” the President said, recalling Romney’s humiliation at the second debate. “People in Detroit don’t forget.”
On the key question of whether Mitt Romney recommended government help to “go through bankruptcy,” Mitt Romney is wrong. In his op-ed, he only referenced post-bankruptcy loan guarantees:
The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.
That’s A) not the same thing as a loan, and B) not helping them “through bankruptcy.” Without bridge loans from the government, there was no private capital available at the time to get them through bankruptcy, and even those commies at The Economist agree there would have been some liquidation. Romney’s plan was, essentially, to let the car companies crash hard enough to kill off retiree benefits and decent-paying jobs, then let some private financiers, with government guarantees, waltz in and buy the bones on the cheap.
More than foreign policy, this exchange may have been the single most important moment of the debate in terms of affecting votes in the one place that matters: Ohio.