This wasn’t WIREDy and so I left it off of Danger Room, but here’s how Mitt Romney badly undermined his most salient line of national-security attack against Obama. Romney teed up his criticism of the Obama administration’s muddled accounts of the Benghazi attack like this:
There were many days that passed before we knew whether this was a spontaneous demonstration or actually whether it was a terrorist attack.
Perhaps! But the unforced error here for Romney is that if the collective “we” didn’t know for “many days” if Benghazi was a demonstration or a terrorist attack, then it forecloses on the options of a) faulting Obama for calling the Benghazi attacks a “demonstration” and/or b) accusing Obama of misrepresenting the attacks publicly. Romney could have said: “There were many days that passed when the administration portrayed a terrorist attack as a spontaneous demonstration.” That at least would set up the attack. Romney instead undercut it, leaving him little choice but to parse whether there’s a material difference between Obama’s day-after line about the “acts of terror” in Benghazi and a “terrorist attack.”
From my perspective, you could make a stronger case that Jay Carney and Susan Rice misrepresented the Benghazi attacks, as Eli Lake’s reporting indicates. And you can point to the House hearing when a State Department witness described receiving near-real-time notifications as the assault unfolded, which would obviate the idea that there was a spontaneous demonstration about an anti-Islam video… with RPGs. But once Romney says it’s a muddle, then everyone can attribute the rhetorical confusion to the fog of war, which is the simplest explanation on offer.