In the law, there is an exception to the Hearsay Rule referred to as an "excited utterance." That is, people say things in the heat of the moment with no time to reflect or calculate a response. The law says its probably what you were really thinking about at the time, not what you say you meant later.
In Thursday’s Republican debate on MSNBC Debate Video Here even Rudy Giuliani knew the difference between Shia and Sunni, and who the terrorists are.
But they all must look alike to former Massachusetts Governor and now presidential contender Mitt Romney. I think a lot of people apparently missed Romney’s gaffe here, provided again and in context after the jump.
We’ll move everything to get (bin-Laden), but I don’t want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden, because after we get him there’s going be another and another -- this is about Shia and Sunni, this is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al-Qai’da and the Muslim Brotherhood...
"Excited utterances" under a magnifying glass after the jump.
All in all, Romney was doing pretty good, sounding strong and concise during the Republican debate on Thursday. For 20 minutes, anyway. Then he made an excited utterance not picked up by a single reporter. When I heard it, my brain went clunk, and I even posted a comment here. But I didn’t have the time to go back and review the tape until last night.
I doubt very much, however, if Iraqis missed it. They might have reason to listen in on the thinking of Republican contenters as to who the "terrorists" are. But I’d hate to be the translator who had to translate Romney's express and implied thinking to non-English speaking members of the Iraqi Parliament.
MSNBC Debate Videotape Counter 18:49 -- It began with a Politico.com moderator asking former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (on the subject of catching or not catching Osama bin Laden), to respond to Mitt Romney’s quote —"It’s not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars, just trying to catch one person."
Gilmore responded to the question.
Tape Counter 20:18 -- Chris Mathews then gave Romney a chance for rebuttal to John McCain’s response that Romney’s quote was "naïve," and here’s where Romney’s "excited utterance" came into play. I mean, the man was trying to defend himself against McCain's "naive" remark and began backpedaling faster than a cyclist skidding towards a cliff.
Romney: Of course ... of course we get Osama bin Laden ... and track him wherever he has to go ... and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted on America...
Mathews (interrupting): Do we move heaven and earth to do it?
Romney: ...We’ll move everything to get him ... but I don’t want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden, because after we get him there’s going be another and another -- this is about Shia and Sunni, this is about Hezbollah and Hamas, and al-Qai’da and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is a worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate...
So, in one excited breath of utterance, Romney 1) flip-flopped on his "conviction" not to go after bin-Laden at any cost because McCain busted him on it; then 2) denigrated Democrats for wanting only to go after bin-Laden (I strenuously object to that characterization, Mr. Romney!), and finally," 3) conflated Shia and Sunni citizens not with insurgents, but with terrorists.
Strike three. Excited utterances can do that when one can't handle pressure under fire.
If he did not equate in his mind and at the time these entities, he could have said, "...this is about Shia revenge squads and Sunni insurgents who wish to retain power in Iraq, both behaving like terrorists, this is about Hezbollah..."
That would at least have been a bit more...well, nuanced. But it’s not what he said.
Romney would now, of course, claim such conflation was not what he meant. But he said it, and during an excited utterance defending himself against McCain in context of a question about bin-Laden generally, and more specifically in regards to Shia and Sunni "terrorists," among others, taking up bin-Laden’s mantle.
In my book, a presidential contender should be disqualified who harbors such a notion, much less puts out from his own mouth during a worldwide forum, that, in general, Shia and Sunnis are part of the "terrorist" problem in Iraq.
Geez, and I thought I was a moron!
They’re Iraqis, Mr. Romney, and yes, some of the Sunnis and Shia are insurgents (we didn't exactly live up to our end of the bargain, did we? They're pissed. 'Nuff said.), but more importantly, now they all just want us the fuck out of there!
Of course, I could be wrong about this. After all, I’m just a ... well, you know.