Mitt’s Gut Test

I’ve just watched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s carefully crafted statement on the killings in Benghazi, and then Mitt Romney’s press conference in Florida, in which he heavily doubled down on his attacks on the Obama administration last night for a statement made by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that condemned unspecified offenses to Muslims, presumably the nasty if obscure video that the nasty Terry Jones helped bring to the world’s attention.

I would imagine a lot of listeners were struck by the irony of Romney attacking embassy personnel being besieged by armed protestors for failing to express stronger support for embassy personnel being besieged by armed protestors. His double-talk about the official Obama reaction to the embassy statement last night–it justified Romney’s own rather undiplomatic reaction, he says, but also gave the world “mixed signals”–was pretty obvious as well.

Looking at the Clinton and Romney statements back to back (and we will hear from the president shortly), I think Mitt is coming across as a political opportunist when the moment calls for the very thing he deplores: nuance. Perhaps I’m wrong; after all, the Romney campaign leaped on this event like a starving cat on a mouse, so maybe they know something I don’t. But instead of displaying his cool under pressure, looks like Romney is racing into a controversy whose ultimate direction he can’t possibly know.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.