posted on September 12, 2012 09:43
Every time I’ve handicapped the presidential race, I’ve warned about X Factors – big events out of anybody’s control that can sway elections. A big one exploded in the Middle East last night.
A foreign policy crisis in September is a huge X Factor. It dominates the news. It challenges the incumbent. And it tests the challenger.
Last week, President Obama seized the strong-defense flag. (Did you know he ordered the mission that killed bin Laden?) Romney got roundly criticized for not mentioning Afghanistan or the troops.
Romney had pledged to refrain from campaigning on the anniversary of 9/11. But late last night, his campaign put out a statement criticizing Obama on its reaction to the embassy attacks in Egypt and Libya. To keep its 9/11 promise, the campaign embargoed the statement for midnight. (Really, I’m not making this up.) Then it lifted the embargo.
It looked like a hair-trigger overreaction from a panicky campaign that’s been royally ripped by disloyal Republicans. Which it is.
All this on top of a flap about Israel pushing Washington on attacking Iran.
Suddenly, the world looks very dangerous. And the election is totally upended.