The day after both presidential candidates called an unofficial truce to observe the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on America, Mitt Romney went back on the offensive with a both barrels attack on the Obama Administration. Responding to a statement made by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo condemning an anti-Islamic video playing on You Tube supported by Terry Jones, the Koran-burning preacher, that had led to violence in Egypt and particularly Libya which had taken the life of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others on his staff.
With less than 60 days to the election, the Republican response to the violence was predictable. We certainly didn’t have to wait for long for the predictable partisan attempt to hang the corpse of Ambassador Stevens around the neck of President Obama.
- At 10:09 p.m. ET, the Romney campaign sends out a statement to reporters. It’s “embargoed until midnight tonight,” i.e., until after the 9/11 anniversary. Romney:
I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
At 10:24, the campaign lifts the embargo and reporters start mentioning the statement.
- At 12:01 a.m. ET, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus tweets:
Notice that the timestamp says “9:01 p.m.” Twitter’s website is cued to Pacific Time. Both the RNC and the Romney campaign were honoring a 9/11 embargo that ended only when 9/12 came to the Eastern time zone.
Two men have a huge problem here. President Obama because he is the Commander-in-Chief and this crisis is one he, along with Secretary of State Clinton will have to deal with. This is the job. Let’s see how they do it.
The other man with a problem is Romney. He can play to the red-meat base and rip into Obama as a secret Muslim sympathizer and assert control of the situation in a John Wayne way by sending in the Marines to kick some ass. Or he can display some sober reasoning that he may not be in possession of all of the facts (there are reports the attacks in Libya were planned to coincide with the 9/11 observances).
It’s also worth noting how the masters of outrage on the Right have their ass on their shoulders over the embassy’s condemnation of the anti-Islamic film, but the film itself is fine and dandy because it’s protected hate free speech. And it’s very bad form for a presidential candidate to rush to the microphones and criticize the incumbent during a crisis in a transparent attempt to score political points without waiting for all the facts.
Romney should have been more careful in his criticisms of the Obama Administration. His own lack of foreign policy experience and shoot-from-the-lip attacks on the president could send a signal to Islamic radicals in Libya and Egypt the nation is fractured and confused and lead to the deaths of more American personnel. The easiest thing in the world is to say is “You’re doing it wrong” when you haven’t explained how you would do it right.
Romney has cynically decided there is more upside for him to criticize the State Department and Obama than to show any solidarity with the president when the nation’s diplomats are under siege.
Does offer a word of sympathy to the family of Ambassador Stevens? Does he demonstrate any concern for the American personnel still in harm’s way? Does he possess even a shred of support to the President of the United States in a time of crisis and the day after the 11th anniversary of the worst terrorist attack against the American homeland.
No. He does not. That would be the decent thing to do. That would be the honorable thing to do. But that isn’t what Mitt Romney does because he is a man of little decency and less honesty. He is the anti-Obama and he can only rip, shred and tear at the president in the hope it will boost his poll numbers a notch or two.
Decency and honesty take extended holidays in the final weeks of an election.
But that’s Romney for you. You never open your mouth until you know what the shot is.If he can’t think on his feet he should keep his mouth closed.
- “Libya Surprise” Could Be Death Knell for Romney Campaign (newyorker.com)
- U.S. ambassador to Libya killed after consulate in Benghazi stormed (warsclerotic.wordpress.com)
- Romney’s Desperate Attacks Backfire (alan.com)
- Foreign Policy Moves Front Burner in 2012 Presidential Election With Death of American Ambassador, Libya and Egypt Attacks and Netanyahu Tiff (themoderatevoice.com)