As I noted this morning, Mitt Romney’s criticism of Obama’s handling of Libya was quite impressive in its rhetorical agility, in that it packed a remarkable number of pandering, Tea Party-friendly talking points into three short sentences. In case you missed it, Romney said:
“I believe that it flows from his fundamental disbelief in American exceptionalism. In the President’s world, all nations have ‘common interests,’ the lines between good and evil are blurred, America’s history merits apology. And without a compass to guide him in our increasingly turbulent world, he’s tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced.”
As a factual matter, Obama has repeatedly proclaimed his belief in American exceptionalism. I don’t know if he’s apologized for America or not, but it’s unclear what’s problematic about his belief that America’s behavior in the world throughout history has not been entirely flawless. Either way, as Steve Benen points out, what’s even more ridiculous than any of this is that Romney used the adjective “nuanced” as a criticism:
Obama is “nuanced”? Yes, but can someone explain why that’s a bad thing? It’s a complex, “turbulent,” and ever-changing world. Having a chief executive who appreciates and is aware of “nuance” strikes me as positive.
Call it the Dingbat Doctrine: If you think the world is a complicated place; if you think that navigating the most powerful military in human history through treacherous and ever-shifting geopolitical cross-currents involves difficult moral choices; if you think America can gain anything at all by recognizing that we have common interests with other nations; well, then you’re too weak to be president.
Romney enjoyed a very successful business career and a stint as a reasonably competent Governor of Massachusetts, so he surely knows that an appreciation of nuance is a positive in a chief executive. But Romney’s intended audience here is the Republican primary electorate, and for some reason he appears to have concluded that GOP voters will view this as a liability and will respond well to his use of the word “nuanced” as an epithet.
Initially I was going to toss off some snark about how this shows that Romney really knows his Tea Party audience. But that’s not fair to these folks at all. What this really reveals is the low regard Romney himself has for them.
UPDATE: I’d forgotten that not long ago, Post fact checker Glenn Kessler absolutely eviscerated the claim that Obama has apologized for America, giving it four Pinnochios.