A few weeks ago, Rachel had a great segment featuring "a child's treasury of politicians refusing to answer very simple questions -- very simple questions about their own records." If you missed it, this is well worth your time, in part because I'd like to add a new chapter to the series.
The pattern is amusing, and unmistakable -- we keep running into instances in which Republicans are confronted with simple questions, which they clearly don't want to answer. But instead of artfully dodging the simple questions with vague answers, these Republicans come up with one sad sentence, which they repeat incessantly, hoping the reporter will go away.
I couldn't help but think of "A Child's Treasury of Politicians Refusing to Answer Very Simple Questions" when reading this fascinating exchange between the Washington Post's Jason Horowitz and Alex Wong, the Romney-Ryan campaign's foreign policy director. Horowitz had a pretty simple question: is it fair to say Mitt Romney is a neoconservative?
"[Romney's] embrace of American values and interests and his call for American leadership abroad throughout this campaign is indicative of a philosophy of peace through strength," Wong told Horowitz.
Fine, but does that mean Romney embraces neoconservatism?
[T]hroughout this campaign Governor Romney has indicated that his view on the world is peace through strength, American leadership, in guaranteeing an American century, that this new century continues to be an American century. And that's the governing philosophy of Governor Romney on peace through strength," Wong said.
Got it. So, does this make Romney a neoconservative?
"Governor Romney's embrace of American values and interests and his call for American leadership is a philosophy of peace through strength," Wong said.
Right, but about whether Romney is a neoconservative....
"What I am saying is that Governor Romney has used, has said, that his philosophy is peace through strength.... Governor Romney has indicated that he has a philosophy, peace through strength."
Nine times Jason Horowitz asked whether Romney is a neoconservative. Nine times Alex Wong repeated tired talking points.
This isn't the first time a Romney aide has tried this -- remember Eric Fehrnstrom's unintentionally hilarious interview about immigration and "amnesty" last November? -- but with the election so close, the fact that the Republican candidate's staffers struggle to move past cliches is discouraging.