The Fog of War
By John Feehery
Despite the best efforts of the Romney campaign, this election isn’t going to only be about the economy. If it were, Romney would be winning in a landslide.
Other things keep intruding. Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate” rape. Romney’ tax returns. Obama’s ability to drink beer. And now foreign affairs.
Campaigns for the white house are bruising affairs, especially for the challenger. It is not easy to knock off an incumbent because incumbents have a lot more tools at their disposal. Perhaps the most powerful tool is information.
The reason challengers usually are very careful when attacking an incumbent on issues that flare up overseas because they simply don’t have all the facts at their disposal. Of course, there is also the tradition that politics stops at the waters edge, but that tradition seems to have largely fallen into disuse in the modern age.
What the American people want from their president is good judgement. This is especially important in the wake of the Iraq war. Most Americans don’t want the next president blundering into a new war without all the facts. Of course, there are some who want us to attack Iran immediately, but I don’t think that reflects the vast majority of the American people.
Romney was right to question the embassy statement on freedom of speech, had the embassy statement been the only news of the day. Unfortunately for him, it was not the only news of the day.
Sometimes a rapid response can be too rapid. That is the case today.
That being said, we are living in a post Arab-spring world that was constructed with the implicit backing of the Obama administration. They didn’t stick up for our ally in Egypt, and now we have the Muslim Brotherhood running the joint. We ousted Gaddafi, and now we have complete chaos there. We are doing our best to get rid of Assad, and who knows what will come after.
It sure doesn’t help that the Obama administration doesn’t have time to meet with the Israeli prime minister. That sends all kinds of signals to Israel’s biggest enemies.
The fact of the matter is that Obama’s philosophy of letting chaos flourish is not better than the real politics that had governed the previous 4 decades.
Mr. Romney needs to show that he has the judgement to take the reigns once he beats Obama in November. If he doesn’t show judgment now, the voters will stick with Obama. That is one of the lessons learned from the Bush years.
Romney was unlucky when his press release was caught up in the fog of war. He showed a lack of judgement though when he doubled down with his press conference. He can survive this, and events may overtake this one episode, but before the Romney campaign does any more rapid response press releases on international events, they ought to take a deep breath and make sure they have all the facts.