Doing her part for the media pile-on passing for coverage of Mitt Romney's trip abroad, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow provided what may have been the most ludicrous criticism of all.
Maddow, never one for straightforward commentary when she can slant instead, was describing remarks made by Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor. (video after page break) --
MADDOW: While in Israel, Mr. Romney's foreign policy adviser, a Bush-Cheney guy you see here named Dan Senor, he blundered unnecessarily close to accidentally starting a war!, uh, when he made a statement to the press that was widely interpreted as giving Israel the green light to start a war with Iran, at which point we, the United States and our military, would have their back in said war. We would join their war if they started it.
And when I say his remarks were widely interpreted to mean that, here's what I mean, I mean, look at these headlines -- "Advisor: Romney would back strike against Iran" (AP), "Romney backs Israel if needs to strike Iran, aide says" (Reuters), "Romney says he'd back unilateral Israeli strike on Iran" (Bloomberg).
After a few hours of those eyebrow-raising headlines, after a few hours of those floating around the world, the Romney campaign tried to take it back. Which makes you wonder why they said it in the first place. What, you didn't think up what to say about bombing Iran before you went to Israel and started talking about it? Really?
Don't irk the radical Muslims, you know what short fuses they have!
Note the conspicuous absence of Senor's allegedly incendiary and geo-politically seismic remarks in Maddow's recounting. In case you were wondering, here's what Senor said, as reported by Fox News --
"Gov. Romney believes we should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is his fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so," Senor said. "In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded."
What, you're not stockpiling canned goods in response ...? Must have been the part regarding Romney's "fervent hope" about "economic and diplomatic measures" that lulled you into complacency.
Here's how Senor's remarks were reported by CNN --
Meanwhile, a top Romney adviser on foreign policy told reporters Sunday that Romney would respect a decision by Israel to "take action on its own in order to stop Iran" from developing nuclear capability -- code for a possible military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
The adviser, Dan Senor, said Romney was not advocating war with Iran, only making clear what the options were should diplomacy fail. He later sought to clarify his comment by noting Romney hoped diplomatic efforts would succeed.
And here, most helpfully of all, from that same CNN story, is previous Maddow guest Martin Indyk's take on what Senor said --
Romney's stance is "almost identical" to Obama's position, which seeks increased international pressure on Iran while keeping a military option "on the table," noted Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Clinton administration who now is foreign policy director at the Brookings Institution.
"It's hard to see what the difference is, since Gov. Romney (alluding to two speeches by Romney while abroad) and his spokesman make it clear that sanctions and negotiations would be tried and force should be kept on the table as a last resort," Indyk told CNN on Monday.
Put another way, the Obama administration blundering unnecessarily close to accidentally starting a war.
Hostility between Israel and Iran is seen as problematic at MSNBC for no other reason than it forces Obama to choose sides between a staunch ally and theocratic thugs in Tehran.
Given her druthers, Maddow would take a military option against Iran off the table as a means of avoiding conflict, followed by her trumpeting this to the world -- much as Neville Chamberlain did with Germany in 1938. It's the same impulse that has liberals respond to shooting rampages by demanding law-abiding citizens disarm.