There is hardly anybody in public life that gives me the creeps more than Mitt Romney does, but I have to say Paul Waldman is onto something in this account of Romney as a victim of "the gaffe wars." That's "gaffe" = the moment "in which a candidate violates the rules the press has established to separate acceptable from unacceptable behavior." Waldman elaboraters (link):
Vide Gratiano in Merchant of Venice:
This week's ["gaffe"] perpetrator was Mitt Romney, who when asked in a debate whether military action against Iran's nuclear facilities would require authorization from Congress, quite sensibly said, "You sit down with your attorneys and tell you what you have to do, but obviously, the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat." The response from his chief opponent, Rudy Giuliani, was predictable: Anyone mentioning "attorneys" must be some kind of sissy.
The press swung into action. "Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney's new smackdown," said Wolf Blitzer excitedly on CNN. "This time, the Republican presidential rivals are fighting over a so-called lawyers' test for national security." The rest of the journalistic village elders quickly made clear their contempt for Romney's impulse to at least consider the legality of a potential military action. "What are these, the Miranda rights for Iran?" asked Chris Matthews. "It sounded equivocal," said David Gregory of NBC News. "It makes him look weak." Margaret Carlson agreed: "You can't be too bellicose. That's why it was a gaffe." Asked by Matthews whether "we expect our future commander-in-chief to have a gut response as to presidential authority in wartime," Dan Balz of the Washington Post said, "We certainly expect him to have a different kind of response than Governor Romney gave last night." Indeed, because if the last seven years have taught us anything, it's that what we need in the Oval Office is less consideration for law and more "gut response."No one can doubt that had Romney said something like, "If we need to attack Iran, we'll do so, and Congress isn't going to tell me how to defend America," the likes of Gregory, Carlson and Balz would have cheered enthusiastically, marveling at his manly willingness to ignore the Constitution.
There are a sort of men, whose visages
Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
And do a willful stillness entertain,
With purpose to be dressed in an opinion
Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
As who should say, "I am Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!"
--William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice I, i