Behind Team Romney’s Petty Name-Calling
Is President Obama a teenager, “feckless,” or a reincarnation of former President Carter?
All three, according to his foes—or maybe just whichever one they manage to get to stick.
The word “feckless” has been employed repeatedly by Mitt Romney and his supporters to describe Obama’s foreign policy, and the use of the word itself is fascinating. It’s a rarely-employed word, with a sort of 1950s academic tone to it, and there’s got to be a reason the GOP campaign uses it—instead of, say, “misguided” or even “incompetent.” It’s almost like those elementary subliminal messages we all learned about in psychology classes—the ones where advertisers quickly flash the word “sex” onto a screen, somehow (allegedly) luring unsuspecting consumers to buy the product. The fact that “feckless” is employed by the campaign only in this context suggests they are trying to link the word to Obama’s foreign policy approach to the point where it becomes automatic. Kind of like “big labor,” which might have been sort of true at one point, but which is just laughable now that less than 12 percent of the workforce is unionized. Still, the phrase sticks and is used commonly.
Then there’s the rather desperate attempt to make Americans think Obama is Jimmy Carter. The most recent example of this comes from Romney foreign policy adviser Richard Williamson, who marked the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens by telling the Washington Post that “for the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an ambassador assassinated.” Williamson was also the one who dismissed criticisms by career diplomat Nicholas Burns by noting that Burns had worked for Carter. He did, and he worked for both Presidents Bush and President Clinton as well.