"I don’t mean to suggest that the attacks won’t have any implications for the elections in November, or that we’ll make no effort to analyze what they might be. But it will be important to keep the causality straight. In the event that Mr. Obama appears to gain any further ground in the polls over the next week or so, it may well be improper to describe them as reflecting continued “momentum” from his convention, when the public’s reaction to the Libya attacks may be responsible instead.
Of course, this cuts both ways. Both Mr. Romney’s reaction to the attacks and the news media’s generally negative depiction of it may have been colored by the recent trend in the polls. And as much as an incumbent might seek to cloak himself in the prestige of the presidency, Mr. Obama’s reaction will not necessarily be untainted by political considerations.
The issue is an inconvenient one for Mr. Romney both in its timing — coming just after a difficult convention period for him — and in its substance, since foreign policy is one area in which the polls show a clear advantage for Mr. Obama (as is often the case for an incumbent president).
I’m not going to offer any opinion about Mr. Romney’s reaction to the attacks — which is not to say that I don’t have one. But I think it can be acknowledged that he is potentially operating on an unlevel playing field. His reactions are liable to be judged in a harsher light, both by the news media and probably also by voters, almost no matter what they might be."