Not What We Do
I first saw this on Andrew Sullivan's site (hello again, Sully!) but I remember the power of the moment during the debate last night. Romney's about to step into it in a manner described well by Paul Krugman:
A large part of Romney’s campaign has been based on the false claim that Obama “apologized for America”. This supposed verbal weakness is supposed to trump the reality that Obama, you know, actually did get bin Laden.
So naturally Romney tried to go after Obama [on the Benghazi issue] not for what he did or didn’t do, but for his supposed failure to talk tough enough.
But then how did Romney get it so wrong? And if you read the transcript, by the way, Obama was clearly enjoying this — it seems as if he knew what was coming:
MR. ROMNEY: I think it’s interesting the president just said something--which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed.
MR. ROMNEY: Is that what you’re saying?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Please proceed, Governor.
MR. ROMNEY: I — I — 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.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.
MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.
MR. ROMNEY: So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)
MS. CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror.
Which left Romney looking stunned and angry ... and small.
But even before that moment, which is all about Obama letting Romney hang himself in the politest manner possible (“Please proceed, Governor”), we got this moment, which is all about Obama's strength of character:
I love the way he faces Romney. I love the look in his eye. I love his insistence on respect and seriousness in the disrespectful realm of political gamesmanship that Romney is playing. “That's not what we do” has an unasked follow-up: “So why are you doing it?” Obama makes Romney seem like a petulant child here.