Mitt Romney: Noun, verb, 9/11

Doing his best Rudy Giuliani impersonation, the former governor alleges President Obama is making America less safe.

Published May 15, 2009 9:10PM (EDT)

The Gettysburg Address it was not, but Mitt Romney’s speech today at the National Rifle Association's convention in Phoenix, Ariz. was notable anyway. There has been a lot of media speculation that Romney will run for president again in 2012, but based on today’s speech, he still might not be ready to seriously challenge for the White House. In his remarks, Romney seemed to do his best to channel another failed Republican presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Romney lashed out at President Obama, suggesting that his decision to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and to release memos related to the CIA’s treatment of detainees make the U.S. susceptible to another 9/11-like attack. Romney said:

President Obama, however, is wrong to back away on missile defense. He was wrong to go on Arab TV and claim that America has dictated to other nations. America has sacrificed more than any other nation to free people from dictators. And of course, President Ahmadinejad of Iran seized upon that misstep by our President to call for an apology from America.

I think the President is going to learn very quickly that abject apologies are always welcomed by thugs and terrorists. But what they need to hear instead is a message of American confidence and American resolve . . .

He’s released top secret memos about interrogations, but we’re still waiting for other top secret memos that tell us about the attacks prevented by those interrogations. The President has also promised to close down Guantanamo, without giving the slightest indication of the next stop for the killers being held there now.

And for all of these decisions, he has received the predictable applause from the usual quarters.

But here’s the problem. That is the very kind of thinking that left America vulnerable to the attacks of September 11th. And the approval of left-wing law professors and editorial boards won’t be worth much if this country lets down its guard and suffers another attack.

Romney began his speech by saying, “It's good to be with members of the National Rifle Association -- people who believe that the principles and protections and rights of the Constitution are more than history: that today as in the past, they drive our prosperity, ensure our safety, and protect our freedoms.”

That was fairly bold of him, considering that Romney -- often ridiculed for being less than firmly committed to his political positions -- only became a member of the NRA in 2006, and had been an advocate of gun control before that.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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