Romney’s instincts here are dead on. And what I like about it is that he seems to show a little righteous indignation that is almost endearing. He’s also quite right to argue that Petraeus ought to have been selected--though TIME is so thoroughly discredited in its judgment that no decent human being should really want its accolades. But what I don’t like about it is that instead of pursuing the theme of righteous disgust, he moved in the end toward a more or less obscure (I mean obscure from the point of view of Joe Public) list of Putin’s abuses. He ticked them off like a Rhodes scholar on an interview . . . making sure to cite as many as possible to impress his interlocutors with his knowledge of the facts.
I don’t want to be a nitpicker . . . I really don’t. And at this point, I am not sure I want to beat up on Mitt. I’m certainly with him over Huck. But this incident gets to the heart of my discomfort with Romney. This answer of his put me in mind of that silly habit presidential candidates have fallen into since Bush got "caught" not knowing the name of some foreign leader in 2000 . . . now they all try to drop the names of every possible foreign leader they can and in any context that can at all allow it. The trouble is that, as a voter, I’m not voting for the guy who can win a game of foreign policy trivial pursuit. Unless you are a complete buffoon, I am going to have to assume that you’ll have a decent command of the facts. And truth be told, I don’t really want to fill my own head with all of those facts. So stop it already with the listing! If you want to cite some facts, do it in a way that demonstrates your understanding of what is at stake. I want to know more about your judgment and less about your ability to memorize and recite a list of talking points. I repeat . . . all the candidates do this. But with Romney it’s always so darn obvious.
That said, make sure you check out the link and take a good, hard look at Putin’s picture there. Does he look like he’s a man worried about memorizing lists to look good?