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April 27, 2012

Mr. Cool Pretty Jazzed About His Gutsy Call

Obama's new ad claims he made a call others wouldn't, and includes an out of context quote by Romney suggesting that Romney wouldn't have made the call.

Here is the out-of-context quote, which, if you search for it on Google, you'll find thousands of times, without context. You have to page forward a lot to find the context.

"It's not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

This got pushed by McCain back in the primary of 2007. The late great Dean Barnett inquired into the actual context of the quote (AP only reported what's above) and found that AP was distorting Romney's meaning.

Our own Matt Lewis, showing the innate industriousness that sets Townhall contributors apart, contacted the Romney campaign and got the full text of the interview. Surprise, surprise- turns out the AP did miss some context. The exchange between Romney and reporter Liz Sidoti went as follows:

LIZ SIDOTI: "Why haven't we caught bin Laden in your opinion?"

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: "I think, I wouldn't want to over-concentrate on Bin Laden. He's one of many, many people who are involved in this global Jihadist effort. He's by no means the only leader. It's a very diverse group – Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and of course different names throughout the world. It's not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. It is worth fashioning and
executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent Jihad and I have a plan for doing that."

So Romney's quote was intended to suggest that we need to do more, not less, in the war on Jihad, and that killing a single man was useful but not sufficient.

This is being turned into "Romney doesn't care about bin Ladin."

Democrats have long urged limited war aims (actually, no war at all, but that's "limited.") The argument through the war has been minimalist versus maximalist. I'm not confident in Bush's version of maximalism any longer (I do not want to use our troops to nation build, ever), but it's absurd to turn a quote by Romney urging a maximalist response -- kill bin Ladin, yes, but don't focus only on that; we have a much larger war to win -- as somehow suggesting he wouldn't even do the minimum.

Barnett continues:

SIDOTI: "But would the world be safer if bin laden were caught?"

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: "Yes, but by a small percentage increase – a very insignificant increase in safety by virtue of replacing bin Laden with someone else. Zarqawi – we celebrated the killing of Zarqawi, but he was quickly replaced. Global Jihad is not an effort that is being populated by a handful or even a football stadium full of people. It is – it involves millions of people and is going to require a far more comprehensive strategy than a targeted approach for bin laden or a few of his associates."

SIDOTI: "Do you fault the administration for not catching him though? I mean, they've had quite a few years going after him."

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: "There are many things that have not been done perfectly in any conduct of war. In the Second World War, we paratroopered in our troops further than they were supposed to be from the beaches. We landed in places on the beaches that weren't anticipated. Do I fault Eisenhower? No, he won. And I'm nowhere near as consumed with bin Laden as I am concerned about global Jihadist efforts."

Another bit of context that must be understood: At the time, the media and the liberal Democrats (but I repeat myself) was attempting to claim the War on Terror was a failure due to the single variable "Have we got bin Ladin?" (Of course, had Bush gotten him, they would have changed the premise to "The war is a failure unless we get Zarqawi," or whoever was left.)

Bush's political strategy at the time was reminding people that this wasn't just some global posse set to arrest or kill a single man-- that terror was not the work of a single man, Al Qaeda was not the work of a single man, 9/11 was not the work of a single man, but rather of a million-plus strong movement and ideology, and that that ideology -- not a singe standard-bearer -- had to be defeated.

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posted by Ace at 11:59 AM

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