I know that for many who keep up on political news, the "imagine if a Democrat had done this" line seems tiresome, if not lazy. But once in a while, it's important.
Imagine if, in the midst of the longest U.S. war in American history, a Democratic presidential nominee delivered a 4,000-word speech at his convention, and neglected to mention the war altogether. Imagine if that candidate didn't bother to say a single word about the conflict, the troops serving abroad, or when they might come home.
Imagine if that same Democratic candidate ignored the war despite not having any military background of his own, and even managed to skip visiting the troops during a recent tour abroad.
I think we know what would happen under such a scenario. McCain, Kristol, Krauthammer, Limbaugh, Cheney, et al, would reach an unavoidable conclusion: there's simply no way this Democrat has a credible claim to be Commander in Chief during a time of war.
And yet, Mitt Romney, who never wore a uniform, delivered his 4,000-word speech, which failed to even acknowledge the war in passing. The word "Afghanistan" was not uttered. There were no references to "veterans" or "troops," either.
This comes a month after Romney launched a week-long overseas tour, but skipped past Afghanistan.
When was the last time there was a major-party nominating convention held during a war in which the presidential candidate decided not to mention the conflict or those fighting on our behalf? Has this ever happened?
For that matter, can anyone say with confidence what Romney's position on the war is? Or how he intends to execute this war if he's president in five months?
Are McCain, Kristol, Krauthammer, Limbaugh, Cheney, et al, on board with this?
As we talked about last week, a voter asked Romney about the war at a town-hall meeting, and the former governor largely dodged the question, vowing to "address the American people about these issues" once he's elected. How reassuring.
I keep thinking about this remarkable anecdote the Wall Street Journal recently published.
Mr. Romney made that clear at a July fundraiser in Montana as he rehashed the challenges Mr. Reagan faced when he took office. He recounted how Mr. Baker, a former secretary of state, held a national security meeting about Latin America during the first 100 days of Mr. Reagan's presidency.
"And after the meeting, President Reagan called me in and said, 'I want no more national-security meetings over the next 100 days -- all of our time has to be focused on getting our economy going,' " Mr. Romney recalled Mr. Baker saying.
In reality, this exchange between Reagan and Baker never happened. I don't know who told Romney this or whether Romney simply made it up out of whole cloth, but Reagan dealt with plenty of national-security meetings early in his presidency -- as all presidents do.
But the anecdote, when combined with last night's speech, makes me wonder if Romney fully understands the nature of the responsibilities he's seeking.
If Romney takes the oath of office in January, he'll have tens of thousands of American troops on the ground in Afghanistan. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what he intends to do with those troops and/or how long he intends to keep them there? Does he?
Update: To his credit, Kristol was not pleased with Romney over this.