In debate, a bungle by Candidate Romney!


Where do these bungles come from: Question:

Will Mitt Romney’s world-class bungle make the highlight reel? His world-class bungle last night about what Obama said?

Will it make the highlight reel of Wickedly Great Debate Moments? Will it turn into one of the tales the “journalists” love to tell?

In yesterday’s New York Times, Jeremey Peters almost broke the sound barrier repeating the press corps’ ridiculous tales about key moments from past debates. Now that Romney has made an actual bungle, on tape, will our fair-minded journalists add it to their life lists?

For ourselves, we’re sorry that those lists exist; they lead to pitiful displays of pseudo-journalism. Before the week is done, we plan to run through the crazoid list which appeared in yesterday’s Times.

Apparently, the claims were sourced to Michael Beschloss, the brown-eyed handsome man the NewsHour drags out in the guise of “presidential historian.” Did Beschloss really say those ridiculous things? For now, though, a moment of sympathy for Candidate Romney in his moment of bungling.

Romney was extremely certain! He was sure that Obama hadn’t described the attacks in Benghazi as an act of terror.

Why was Romney so sure of that fact?

We can’t answer that question, of course. But for weeks, the press corps has parroted right-wing scripts about what Susan Rice supposedly said—about what she said on the Sunday programs about the Benghazi attacks.

By yesterday morning, the Washington Post was publishing a disgraceful front-page report which grossly misstated what Rice really said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/16/12). In the New York Times, David Kirkpatrick seemed to feel that he had to play that game too.

So much bullshit has been recited that you almost can’t blame Candidate Romney for what he thought and said!

Irresponsibly slandering Susan! In the last month, it's been the latest party game for the boys and girls of the press. If Romney has been watching that crap, you almost can’t blame him for feeling sure that Obama couldn’t have said what he said.

The children have been slandering Rice. Perhaps as a direct result, a candidate filled with certitude managed to slander himself.


  1. Actually Obama used "terrorism" in such a broad sense that it would also apply to the rape of Lara Logan and any other mob or protest related act of violence.

    We all know Obama was trying to convince viewers that he did not try to minimize the attack as "spontaneous act of protesters over a film" and that he did not AVOID identifying it as terrorism for weeks.

    Romney didn't blunder, Obama applied the use of a word in such a way as to render it meaningless.

    1. We are all now stupider for having read this comment.

    2. The White House, certainly starting with Bush, has been very...umm...liberal in its use of the term "terrorism"; so much so that it has become meaningless.

    3. "We all know"? I don't. Apparently Obama, and the many people watching and commenting on the debate don't. Other than that, you're right, "We all know."


      sorry bout caps lock

    5. I laughed out loud - literally - at Obama's fake indignation that anyone in his administration does anything for political reasons - "That's not what we do." Hilarious.

    6. Hey, since you're an expert mindreader, can you do me a favor? I have a meeting to go to next week, and your mindreading skills might be quite valuable. I'll be willing to pay you exactly what they're worth.

    7. I'm assuming the indignation is fake, since the alternative is that he's a sociopath.

    8. So you've given up your career as a mind reader, and are now an armchair psychiatrist. Bad move. Mindreading pays much better, and it's easier, as well, as there are lots of people who know the definition of "sociopath," and can recognize when you don't know what you're talking about. Go back to mindreading; it's easier and the standards are lower.

  2. Washington Post Factcheck

    Romney’s broader point is accurate — that it took the administration days to concede that the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was an “act of terrorism” that appears unrelated to initial reports of anger at a video that defamed the prophet Muhammad. (The reporting is contradictory on whether there was indeed a demonstration outside the mission.) By our count, it took eight days for an administration official to concede that the deaths in Libya were the result of a “terrorist attack.”

    1. Unfortunately, the specific charge Romney lodged was this:

      "I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."

      Utterly, utterly, completely, totally false.

      Romney had no "broader point," and this is what is often wrong with so-called "fact-checkers." They have to play the false equivalency game to demonstrate how "balanced" they are that they will even invent a "broader point" to say the other guy was just as wrong too.

      Well, no. Won't work. Romney said in plain English that Obama did not call the attack an "act of terror" for two full weeks when the fact is, he specifically called it an "act of terror" among his very first words.

    2. Sophistry. We know the substance of Romney's accusation that Obama tried to minimize the attack as a "spontaneous" reaction to a film instead of a planned terrorist attack was and is true and it requires a dishonest placement of semantics over substance to claim it isn't.

    3. "Romney's accusation is true and it requires a dishonest placement of semantics over substance to claim it isn't"

      Uh, no. It just requires knowing English.

      "it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror"

      Yeah, that's false. No "semantics" necessary.

      Go home.

  3. Mitt Romney last night brought back the image of the famous Scene in Anatomy of a Murder when prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott) is badgering a witness to get her to admit she planted key evidence because she was the victim’s mistress, and wanted to discredit his reputation out of jealousy. When she gives an unexpected answer, he looks like he got kicked in the stomach, and stumbles back to his table.

    What Obama said in the Rose Garden:

    “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None.”


    “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

    Right-wing spin says that Mitt was right and Obama and Crowley were wrong.

    The argument goes like this: Obama was only speaking in generalities, and the proof is he said acts (plural), and terror (not terrorism), therefore Obama did NOT declare or imply in any way that this attack was an act committed by terrorists.

    The other “proof” that Mitt was correct goes this way: Obama said, “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. “
    This proves that Obama was blaming the entire attack on the YouTube movie, and on nothing else.

    The next sentence, “But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None” is completely ignored by the right, since it demonstrates that the rioters were not deserving of justification or ”sympathy”.

    Regardless of what one wants to believe, Mitt’s reaction to Crowley’s reference to the transcript was priceless.

    1. Actually Crowley said Obama was wrong.

      And everyone understands that repeatedly mentioning the video while condemning the attack is excusing the attack.

    2. The tape seems to have Obama saying it's too early to say what really happened or why but the US condemns terror AND bigotry.

    3. Yeah, it was a deliberately ambiguous reference, not saying that it was an act of terror, but covering that base.

    4. Jeeves and ABL,

      You have stated the obvious.

      But the right wing stooges and their sycophantic suck-up wannabe leaders know PRECISELY what Obama REALLY meant.

      Not because they have infiltrated his nefarious secret cabal, but because, unlike us unwashed masses, they can READ MINDS!

      Romney was stupid last night.

      He appealed to the Obama haters on the question about the Benghazi attack, evidently to stupid to realize he has lock on their votes.

      Instead of appearing Presidential, which is what the "undecided" are vainly waiting for, he handed to Obama another opportunity to show the difference between being accountable and being an empty suit.

  4. Haha, Bob has gone tribal.

  5. How many terrorists can dance on the head of a pin?

    This sort of bullroar goes on all the time.

    In Dec. 2005, the right wing spin machine claimed John Kerry accused US troops in Iraq of terrorism, rape, and murder.

    “I have not terrorized them in the middle 
of the night, raped them or murdered them as you have accused me of before.” -- “Marine Thom” - Text from a comment that went viral on right wing blogs and e-mails.

    What Kerry had actually said:

    Face the Nation (CBS News) - Sunday, December 4, 2005
    JOHN KERRY: But I think what we need to do is recognize what we all agree on, which is you've got to begin to set benchmarks for accomplishment. You've got to begin to transfer authority to the Iraqis. And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs. Whether you like it or not... Iraqis should be doing that. And after all of these two and a half years, with all of the talk of 210,000 people trained, there just is no excuse for not transferring more of that authority."

    The same ol' same ol'.

  6. The only new problem may be, thanks to Bob's endless Maddow bashing or whatever, a lot of these fruitcakes now read TDH. See above!

    1. Judging by the combox, which rarely cracks 50, I doubt that there isn't "a lot" of anybody left still reading this blog.

      It's basically down to a handful of newbies, attracted to the MSNBC (especially during Trayvon Martin) bashing, and a handful of fading fans, hoping the aliens return the real Bob Somerby.

    2. I, for one, continue to read Bob daily although I've ceased commenting by and large. The "combox" no longer registers my contributions for two reasons:

      1) Anonymity muddies debate. All too often, I had no idea who I was responding to and on which topic. Identifying posters solely by their posting time is a waste of time and effort, and, for me, became thoroughly annoying.

      2) As a progressive who reads views from left, right, and center, I find Bob's analyses and POV trenchant and often spot on. I'm here for those observations alone, not to engage in internecine polemics - which is, quite frankly, much of what has filled the comments section since Bob moved to blog format.

    3. 1. You do know that you can make up any ol' screen name you want? Or did you think that names such as "gyrfalcon" and "gravymeister" were their actual names?

      2. And here you are, reading the combox and engaging polemics.

      But you go write ahead and read Somerby and think he is "trenchant" and "often spot on."

      However will you know what is on MSNBC and the NYT Op-Ed page if you stop reading Bob? After all, we know that the fate of the human race rests on what is said in those two venues.

    4. "However will you know what is on MSNBC and the NYT Op-Ed page if you stop reading Bob? After all, we know that the fate of the human race rests on what is said in those two venues."

      "fate of the human race" HILARIOUS!

    5. Hey Irishguy, I'm merely disputing Anon 2:17, who claims there's no one here but newbies. I've been reading Sommerby since 2004 and haven't left.

      And my issue with anonymity is purely a practical one, as I indicated above. It makes any attempt at debate muddy and confused. I just don't have the patience for it.

      And I simply refuse to add more heat to this pointless polemic (and if you believe that this simple explanation of my withdrawal from commenting here is also polemical, you've proven my point).

    6. YAA (Yet Another Anonymous)October 17, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      FYI @4:46, irishguy is not that troll's usual handle.

      In fact, he usually goes by "Anonymous" himself!

      The "fate of the human race" is the giveaway. It's one of his favorite mischaracterizations of Somerby's arguments...

    7. I agree there is much flogging of obviously lame targets. That is why the excellent stuff on the Post's attempt to trash Rice was so welcome.

    8. Well, 4:46, as I read 2:17 once again, he/she is apparently saying the blog is filled with two types of people:

      1. Newbie right-wingers who drifted over her because of the MSNBC and NYT bashing.

      2. A diminishing number of regular old-timers who hope Bob returns to his senses someday.

      Nice of you to try to spin that into something you thought you could argue against by falsely saying that 2:17 meant only "newbies."

      And if that is your normal style of "debatem" then allow me to add my appreciation that you don't (according to your claim) comment very often.

      You're not really that good or even clever at it.

    9. I wish to make a correction. Instead of saying that the blog is "filled with . . . " 2:17 was instead saying that the blog is reduced a handful of people on two types.

      And the evidence of the combox is pretty telling. On normal days, it is not unusual to see posts top out at 15 comments or less. And even this particular thread has reached 49 with this one.

      Go check out some of the blogs that are actually read.

  7. It's my understanding, from reports prior to the debate, that Candy was operating under a binding set of rules that she intended to violate if she felt the need. I have no idea what those rules were beyond keeping time and urging the candidates to answer questions actually asked. Did her contractual powers include ruling on the truth and accuracy of the candidate’s assertions? Pretty tall order for a mere moderator.
    I was overjoyed by the moment and hope she continues to be seen as right, but do we really want to see more of these truth/lie rulings from mere moderators no matter how much they support our worldview? What if Megan Blondfox had been moderating?

    1. Don't both sides also have to agree on the moderator?

  8. Well, the importance of the moderator has has certainly been demonstrated and Obama better be ready for next week's right wing shill-see TDH archives.

  9. Quaker in a BasementOctober 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Will the press corps add Romney's blunder to their list of When Debates Go Wrong? Oh, absolutely!

    By itself, Romney's smug certainty would have put it on the list. But Obama's "Please proceed, governor," is the clincher. They'll be talking about this one in the next century.

    1. Too bad, because I was kind fold of "binder full of women." Which also turned out to be utter bullshit.

      But the wife and I practically fell on the floor laughing.

    2. "fond of" not "fold of".

    3. Someone has a tingle up his leg but saying something nobody even remembers will be talked about in the next century is cray.

  10. Big Bird, binders, and pretend "gotchas" aren't going to help. Romney will win because the electorate is in an adult mood right now, not interested in forced memes.

    1. Right. Let's elect the adult who, right out of the gate in both debates, started whining, "My turn! My turn! He got his turn! It's my turn! No fair! Waah! Waah! Waaaaah!

    2. "adult?"

      Romney candidacy is strictly for children who believe in fairy tales.

      "The President makes the price of gasoline whatever he wants it to be."

      "The President can balance the budget, cut my tax bill and increase military spending."

  11. It's good politics to complain about the moderator but for the debates this year, the complaints are weak sauce. Romney won last night because according to the polls he overwhelmingly won on the economy and taxes, even terrorism.

    The last debate will be centered on foreign policy and Obama's "I said it was terrorism" and "he has Chinese investments" claims will be exposed much more clearly than last night. The format will be the same as first debate.

    1. It was a crushing Romney win. Let's hope he has an equally crushing win on foreign policy, which is clearly his strong suit. And honesty. Got to include honesty.

    2. And let us not forget how deftly Romney reversed the gender gap by saying he didn't know any qualified women, so he sent out a search team and they came back with a whole binder full.


  12. "Romney won last night because according to the polls . . ."

    By all means, pick and choose the data you like when all else, including your candidate, fails.

    But let me give you a clue here. If you think those snap polls to tell you anything, I got a bridge right here in Kansas City I'll sell you cheap. Hell, I'll even throw in my trusty '76 Pinto for an extra $10,000.

  13. The polls have Romney winning last night's debate? really? Hard to believe.

    So, I guess what's going to win the election is saying you can cut taxes for everyone (including the wealthiest), increase spending, and then balance the budget by removing loopholes. When rudely asked which loopholes you can simply refuse to specify - "of course the math adds up" you can state. We're in an adult mood these days apparently. Adult in the "adult movie" sense, meaning just let us live the fantasy, don't bother us with dull reality.

    As for foreign policy, it seems the fact that Obama didn't parade around an aircraft carrier in a cod piece after Osama was "mission accomplished" upsets Romney's sense of "USA, USA, USA." Other than Obama not talking real cowboy tough stuff, i don't see Romney's beef with Obama's foreign policy: i mean ya gotcha drone attacks, illegal imprisonments, 14 more months in Afghanistan, sanctions on Iran, catering to Israel... what's not to love?

  14. I kinda know posting is a waste of time but I just gotta say that I find it interesting that the right wing seems more upset with Obama choice of words than the terrorists who killed the ambassador and other Americans in Libya.

    1. They're just victims, and probably Democrats to boot. This is an ELECTION, damnit, it's IMPORTANT. We've got to keep the commie muslims out.

  15. I've been reading TDH since the late 90s with time off here and there. I return here because he knows how to read. He reads to the end of quotes - he doesn't read around the parts he doesn't like. That is how a grown up reads. With this approach you can hold more than one fact in your mind at once.

    Bob has the bead on this - Romney politicized this at a time they were losing in the polls for which he was roundly criticize. He continued to torture the story to reveal the apology story line - this is script X 10 the 5th. Monday night, Romney thinks he is setting up Obama with the no act of terror line. - Obama kind of gets this grin on his face waiting with pleasure to serve up hoisted petard with a karma-rang sauce. Romney takes the bait - Obama goes to the ref and Crowly said two things.

    1. Romney was wrong (dead wrong) about words the president used in the Rose garden.
    2. Romney was right that it took some more days - 8 days as far as I can tell - for the administration to report this was a violent terrorist attack.

    Balanced and fair?

    The real problem for Romney is that Obama with Crowley's appropriate intervention humiliated Romney by blocking his attempted slam dunk - The look on Romney's face: priceless. The impact on the race - no question about it a mitteruption of his big debate 1 face lift with our pundit class: egg don't look so nice on that noble chin.

    By the way, as with the 47% meme once again Mitt bought the prolefeed and showed a key weakness - impulsiveness which causes self inflicted verbal wounds that find ears receptive to dog whistles.

    1. Very well said, Joseph. But let's hope that the new singular focus of the right echo chamber of trying to turn Romney's biggest blunder into an asset also backfires in this way: It opens the door for the Obama campaign to run roughshod over all the other flatly incredible things Romney said that night.

      To wit:

      1. The new "pick a number" deduction cap, which still doesn't come close to making his income tax plan "revenue neutral."

      2. Hiring top staff to run key Massachusetts agencies from the "binder full of women." (Gee, Mitt. How do you feel about affirmative action again?) And no, Mitt. As it turns out, you didn't take the initiative to get that binder.

      3. The only thing he likes about the Arizona immigration law is "e-verify."

      4. His sudden fondness for Pell grants, which his running mate would kill.

      5. His hard opposition to an assault weapon ban after he signed one into law.

      6. The solution to violent crime? Two parent families with good mommies and daddies. Everyone knows that kids from two parent families never turn out to be criminals.

    2. All those points are good for undermining a candidates credibility, but I think they are also ripe for turning into an effective framework to attack the whole foundation of Romney/Rand/Ryan/Akins and the rest of the reactionary Republican tea party.

      Your points work together synergistically within a progressive framework that Obama has been reluctant to take up for a number of reasons, but has begun to show itself now and again.

      I suspect he holds an unrealistic image of himself as a force of conciliation between, if we face the facts, irreversibly polarized political enemies. Sure, he must not turn off the undecideds and independents but that is where he can learn from MittBinder; Polymorphism in the cause of economic, and social justice is no vice. He may have to be a class warrior on M, W and F and a conciliator the rest of the week.

      Joe Biden tested the waters on another frame - the willingness to pull up you sleeves, stand up and pummel the other guy. Finding those waters safe, Obama jumped in after him Monday night - he will have to continue to box Romney, in both senses of the word, into a plutocratic, unempathetic, out of touch with the common man 'picture frame' with his 47% buddies and their Randian intellectual water carriers like Ryan and Koch funded think tank apparatchiks

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