The break the presidential candidates took from attacking each other ended not all at once, but in pieces Monday, mostly at the campaign staff level -- a snarky tweet from David Axelrod, then a Romney sign referring to an Obama line taken out of context, then an Obama conference call with reporters suggesting Romney's trip overseas was a photo op, then a video featuring President Obama saying Mitt Romney's economic plan won't work, then Romney saying on CNBC that the Obama line taken out of context is actually worse in context. On Tuesday, all niceness will end at the candidate level, too, as Romney will call Obama an appeaser. This is yet another theme from the 2008 campaign that Romney will revisit, though it's a lot more substantial than the others the campaign has referenced, like Obama being foreign and doing drugs as a teenager.
Obama gave a speech to the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday pointing to his foreign policy achievements. Romney will give a speech Tuesday to the same convention and say those achievements weren't so great. "President Obama promised to lead on foreign policy, but by his own measure and the goals he set to accomplish, he has failed," Romney will say, according to Politico's Mike Allen. "One time after another, President Obama has set out to appease our adversaries, only to see them take advantage of his perceived weakness." Romney will say Obama is shrinking the military and has seen "one foreign policy setback after another" with Iran, China, and Russia.
The campaign detente that so many political reporters had been begging for lasted only a few days -- "Historians may look back on the first half of an unusually hot summer as the time when the campaigns descended fully into negativity," The New York Times laments. But there's good reason for it. Romney is going overseas Wednesday to watch the Summer Olympics and meet with British, Polish, and Israeli officials, and it's considered to be in poor taste to attack the president while on foreign soil. Romney won't be explicitly doing that. There's no reason to think Obama would wait till Romney came home to start attacking him.
But Romney's criticism of Obama as an appeaser is not a new line. It's something Republicans said frequently in 2008, most hilariousy when commentator Kevin James said over and over that Obama was an appeaser like Neville Chamberlain, and then when pressed repeatedly by Chris Matthews, admitted he did not actually know what appease-y thing Chamberlain did. Romney, obviously, is no Kevin James, as we have evidence he actually knows things. But when people complain about the lack of substance and negative tone of the campaign, it might help to remember what happened only four years ago, and in every presidential campaign.