Mitt Romney and the conservative base have a stormy relationship. They fight. They make up. Their affection cools. They bond again. If not for President Obama — accusing Romney of everything from tax evasion to perjury to murder — and the mainstream media’s rampant boosterism, Romney would find it tough to keep up the enthusiasm of the right. But with Obama and the MSM around, he can rest assured the base will stick with him and crawl over that proverbial glass to dump Obama.
The mainstream media — the same that were fixated on condemning Romney for voicing the same criticism as the State Department had over the errant Cairo Embassy’s online apology — decided that Romney was “isolated” or in trouble with Republicans. Perhaps the media don’t know very many conservatives. Or perhaps they thought a few moldy Beltway insiders were representative of the party at large.
Certainly there were hand-wringers whispering on background about how Romney has blown it. These would be the same nervous Nellies who privately bemoaned the VP pick of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), but later gushed when he proved to be a hit.
But by day’s end a long list of lawmakers, foreign policy hawks, right-wing talk radio hosts, right-leaning blogs and right-leaning editorial boards had rallied not grudgingly but full-throatedly to Romney’s side. In part, it was the sight of embassies under attack and disdain for a president who talked less about the embassies than his campaign, including remarks at a Las Vegas campaign appearance where he analogized his campaign volunteers to the slaughtered diplomats, that got conservatives’ dander up.
And in part the reaction on the right was appreciation that Romney, in condemning the initial Cairo apology and sticking up for free speech rather than pandering to the perceived “defamation of religion,” had given voice to many of their complaints about Obama’s foreign policy perspective.
And surely the over-the-top obsessive coverage of Romney’s purported gaffe, rather than the security lapse and the other particulars of the event, helped reignite what can only be described as hatred for the mainstream media. When the chips are down, conservatives are certain, fairness and accuracy go out the window. If the media are going to rally to Obama, then, by gosh, conservatives are going to rally to Romney.
When some reporters at the Romney press conference were picked up on a hot mic agreeing to team up to cover all the bases, all of which had “Romney gaffe” as the underlying issue, conservatives were reminded that the best Republican candidates go through, around and right over the heads of the mainstream media.
The Obama team might figure that independents wouldn’t like Romney, you know, being critical of a failure in security and the death of four Americans. Maybe,but the scene of burning embassies is even less attractive to these voters, who don’t want the United States being trashed and its citizens murdered. We do, after all, have a full-fledged security crisis in a part of the region where Obama has “led from behind.” The Wall Street Journal reported:
The killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, in one of the most brazen attacks on a U.S. diplomatic compound in a generation, sparked a security crisis in the North African country, elevated tensions across the Middle East and raised concerns about how well the U.S. can protect its diplomats abroad. . . . The attack on the U.S. consulate was the second this year. In June, suspected Islamic militants detonated an improvised explosive device at the same compound. A Libyan guard was injured, but no Americans were harmed. In the spring, the International Committee for the Red Cross offices in Benghazi were also targeted.
Aside from whatever lapses let our embassies go unprotected, there will be discussion in the days ahead on whether Obama has projected strength or weakness in the region and whether his non-policy toward the Arab Spring is a serious matter. Voters will rightly want to know why we are giving aid to regimes that so obviously don’t share our values. There is nothing that so sticks in the craw of voters who otherwise have little interest in foreign policy than the reminder we are being abused and taken for fools by hostile regimes.
Cut off aid? Set up a bipartisan committee to investigate? This is not the stuff Obama wants in the headlines as he is trying to convince voters that slashing defense is perfectly fine and that his “success” has been in leaving foreign lands.
We’ll see how long Obama can distract attention from the serious policy and factual queries about his judgment and solicitude for antagonistic regimes. Conservatives know the Democratic nominee will have the media lock-step at his side. But isn’t that always the case when an election draws near?