Late last night, while you were already sleeping, a meme took over Twitter, the Romney campaign responded, and it was all mostly over by the time, at least on the East Coast, people woke up. It all started after Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin posted a story timestamped 11:03 p.m. noting that Romney adviser Richard Williamson suggested to The Washington Post there wouldn't be anti-American protests in the Middle East -- and maybe U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens wouldn't have died -- if Romney had been president. ("There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation," Williamson said. "For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we've had an American ambassador assassinated... In Egypt and Libya and Yemen, again demonstrations — the respect for America has gone down, there’s not a sense of American resolve and we can't even protect sovereign American property.")
Linking to his reporter's story, TPM editor Josh Marshall tweeted at 11:15 p.m.: "Romney reveals new motto/theory:
#Romneystrength, wld have prevented jihadists from attacking ambassador/consulate etc," and then after a few people responded with jokes, tweeted out a solicitation for more at 11:42 p.m. Then, like Chuck Norris Facts, the #RomneyStrength meme caught on characterized by outlandish boastfulness but tinged with a recognition of the faint aura of prissiness Romney sometimes projects. Examples:
- "HE let the dogs out! #Romneystrength."
- "Leap tax loopholes in a single bound #RomneyStrength"
- "P90X #romneystrength"
This would have been just another injoke among partisans and media types (especially those, like Marsall, who overlap) except that at some point in the evening, Romney's campaign bought a promoted tweet on the hashtag to push its own message.
The promoted tweet disappeared by about 9 a.m. Friday.