After an astounding week of ardent media focus on Mitt Romney’s criticism of the initial U.S. response to mob assaults on American diplomatic outposts, the furor is dying down—but it’s not over by any means. Nor was the message that the furor sent a negligible one.
Condemnations of Mr. Romney had come thick and fast. He had been “crass and tone deaf,” in the view of MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. He had committed a “slander” against the president, according to Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.
Journalists in pursuit of this story—to the exclusion of virtually all else going on—were quick to point out that denunciations of Mr. Romney were by no means limited to Democrats, that criticism came from Republican commentators too. This fact was hardly surprising—the sanctimony of the virtuous knows no political bounds.
The spectacle of those hordes of journalists in single-minded pursuit of the Romney story day after day—days that saw the killing of four Americans, embassies burned and trashed, mobs of the faithful running amok—shouldn’t have been surprising either. It’s the most dramatic indicator yet that in this election the pack journalism of four years ago is alive, and well, and in full cry again.
Especially wonderful to hear were all the charges about Mr. Romney’s political opportunism and tone-deafness—this after three days of a Democratic convention distinguished by shameless, nonstop exploitation of the military raid that put an end to Osama bin Laden. It is impossible to imagine any other president in American history orchestrating even two minutes—much less three days—of the self-glorification and wallowing in a victory won by the nation’s armed forces that was on display at the convention. If any of this orgy of boasting in the interest of a political campaign caught the attention of those commentators whose sensibilities were so offended by Mr. Romney last week, we haven’t heard about it.