Vote 2012

Romney and Eastwood highlight GOP convention finale

If for some reason you missed Mitt Romney’s speech accepting the presidential nomination Thursday night, you can watch it here if you care to.

Romney made a better (if highly selective and frequently misleading) case for why Obama should not be reelected than he did for why Mitt Romney should be elected.

You can see what some of the fact-checkers are saying about it here, here, here and here.

(By the way, aren’t all journalists supposed to be fact checkers?)

Demonstrating his full transformation on the issue of climate change– from taking it seriously to using it as a laugh line– Romney declared: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise … is to help you and your family.”

In Romneyworld, it is apparently impossible to do both.

Romney said:

I will begin my presidency with a jobs tour. President Obama began with an apology tour. America, he said, had dictated to other nations. No Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators.

Now if there’s one reason to be critical of Obama, it’s in the field of foreign policy– especially his apparent lack of concern for what will happen, as US forces withdraw, to the relative freedom Afghans (especially women) have achieved since the ousting of the Taliban regime, and his current unwillingness to act more forcefully against the Assad regime in Syria.

But Romney’s claim of an “apology tour” is ridiculous, as all the above fact-checkers agree. Robert Farley writes at FactCheck.org:

Nowhere did we see that the president “apologized” for America. In some speeches, Obama was drawing a distinction between his policies and those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. In other instances, Obama appeared to be employing a bit of diplomacy, criticizing past actions of both the U.S. and the host nation, and calling for the two sides to move forward.

One illustrative example is from a speech Obama gave in Strasbourg, France, in April 2009. It is one of the “apology” examples cited by Romney in his book [“No Apology”].

Obama, April 3, 2009: I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there’s something more that has crept into our relationship. In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.

But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what’s bad.

On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. They do not represent the truth. They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated.

In this case, Obama admits to American failings, and then couples that with a critique of misperceptions fostered about the U.S. in Europe. That’s well short of a formal apology.

As for helping to free another nation from a dictator: the most recent example of that happened just a year ago in Libya, under a president named Barack Obama.

Romney himself was all over the map on Libya, at one point saying, “It is apparent that our military is engaged in much more than enforcing a no-fly zone. What we are watching in real time is another example of mission creep and mission muddle” and later worrying, “Now the president is saying we have to remove Qaddafi. Who’s going to own Libya if we get rid of the government there?”

And of course Romney repeated his fact-free assertion that Obama has thrown “friends like Israel under the bus.”

Unfortunately or otherwise for Romney, Clint Eastwood’s remarkable piece of performance art in prime time seems to be attracting at least as much attention as the candidate’s speech.

Apparently ad-libbing, Eastwood spoke with an Invisible Obama sitting in a chair to his side. I like Eastwood– his spaghetti Westerns especially are endlessly watchable– so I really don’t want to say any more than that.

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