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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 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.

Originally posted to MoronMike on Sat May 05, 2007 at 07:25 AM PDT.


Did Mitt Romney lump Sunnis and Shia with terrorists?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for the catch (6+ / 0-)

    The rhetoric of the right wing is being fixed around the policy of disinformation.

    by MoronMike on Sat May 05, 2007 at 07:17:01 AM PDT

    •  Do you think... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Romney would like it if we lumped him in with all the outlaw Jack Mormons who are still wandering around the American West? Not all of his co-religionists are nice, neat monogamous persons. There are still a few wife-beating, child-raping, harem-holding Mormons out there to shame the law-abiding majority. Do you think that he thought about that when he lumped the Shi'a and Sunni? Why did he leave out the Kurds?

      "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by jayatRI on Sat May 05, 2007 at 09:10:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He left out the Kurds (0+ / 0-)

        because they aren't generally associated with the insurgency.  They are our only allies, so they can't be terrorists.

        The rhetoric of the right wing is being fixed around the policy of disinformation.

        by MoronMike on Sat May 05, 2007 at 10:20:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well they ARE all darker skinned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    so that MUST make them terrorists .... from a Repug sorta view...

    Certainly makes it easier than understanding who they are and what they are doing...

    John Edwards - the repugs worst nightmare!!

    by Da Rock on Sat May 05, 2007 at 07:26:31 AM PDT

  •  Yes, I noticed this too. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I heard this I was stunned.  Does he not understand that Shia and Sunni encompass all of Islam, and by making this statement he essentially stated that all muslims are terrorists?

    •  Obviously he doesn't (0+ / 0-)

      want to acknowledge such a difference, and he probably believes in his heart that many Iraqis are "terrorists."  But, like I said, he spoke during a moment of excited utterance, and it was a really dumb thing to say.

      The rhetoric of the right wing is being fixed around the policy of disinformation.

      by MoronMike on Sat May 05, 2007 at 07:57:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In fairness, based on the part you present (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm not sure Romney said anything weird there. There ARE Shi'a and Sunni terrorists. I would assume they hate each other's guts. Iran, I would again assume, is supporting Shi'a terrorists who are actively attacking Israel. Saudi Arabia is supporting Al Qaeda and any home-grown Sunni terrorists it can find in Iraq. Basically, we're caught in the middle in a kind of grotesque sweaty sandwich. Who would you rather be spooning? Osama bin Laden, or Maliki? They'd both be lyin' to you in the morning. "Love ya. Mean it."

    •  Point taken, but I see (0+ / 0-)

      Shia and Sunni troublemakers not as terrorists but as insurgents.  I think it's a distinction with a difference, in my book, as I covered in the diary.

      The rhetoric of the right wing is being fixed around the policy of disinformation.

      by MoronMike on Sat May 05, 2007 at 07:54:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Boneheaded comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Seeing Shia and Sunni Islam as part of a "world jihadist effort", maybe he didn't "mean" it, but it shows a startling lack of sensitivity to be able to even say it thoughtlessly.

    The misinformation on Iran throughout was also frightening.  Hunter in a post debate interview actually claimed they were enriching weapons grade uranium.

    I'm not sure what you meant by "even Guiliani" knew the difference, as Guiliani is one of the few up there I would have expected to get that question correct.  Guiliani is simply the most competent of the Republican options.  That said, I'm glad to see his campaign faltering some, and he's looking/sounding older than 63.

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