Our Forgotten Mali Moment

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 15 2013 3:23 PM

Our Forgotten Mali Moment

Rosie Gray's quick item on Mali deserves a little bit of unpacking. Her premise is that Mitt Romney, who apparently ran for president in 2012, was "introducing the problems in Mali to a mainstream audience before most other politicians and commentators," and an ungrateful nation did not notice.

It's minor, but I think Gray overstates the backlash to Romney: The tweet from Bill Maher, commenting on the Mali line, is more of a goof on Stupid Americans. The larger point is that Romney used Mali in a larger argument about how the forces of terror were on the march, and that Benghazi was just the beginning. In the spin room before the debate (which is to say, in the room where there would be spinning, before anything spinnable was said), Sen. Lindsey Graham walked me through various Obama debacles and speculated about how to deal with them. "In northern Mali, we may have to look at special forces operations," he said. "In Egypt, it might be redesigning our aid to promote democracy."

But Romney didn't really follow through on this. His surrogates kept their focus on Benghazi, as a preventable debacle and possible cover-up. There was no larger argument about How President Romney Would Deal With Al Qaeda in Mali, because there wasn't real daylight between the administration and the GOP campaign. Romney didn't want to commit the United States to any intervention of any kind in an African nation that voters hadn't heard of. And the Obama administration has "led from behind," leaving France to send troops in to its former colony.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don’t Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in the New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.