When it comes to international affairs, Mitt Romney mystifies me. The Republican presidential nominee seems to have a shoot (from the mouth) first policy. The situation was still fluid and unresolved when he slammed President Obama’s handling of the blind Chinese attorney’s quest for freedom in May. Now he’s stuck his foot deep in it in the Middle East.
NBC News’s First Read gives an excellent tick-tock of what happened and how the Romney campaign, once again, waded into a roiling foreign fracas before having all of the information. The Romney statement dropped into my inbox at 10:09 last night and was “embargoed until midnight tonight.” The embargo was lifted 15 minutes later.
“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.” — Mitt Romney
“We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack,” responded Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt. Count me among those being shocked. Even more so after reading the analysis in First Read.
First, Romney was referring to a statement that the U.S. embassy in Egypt issued condemning the “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” But that embassy statement, which the White House has distanced itself from, was in reference to an anti-Islam movie and anti-Islam pastor Terry Jones, and it came out BEFORE the embassy attacks began.
The Romney campaign stands by its irresponsible statement and insists to First Read that it “came after the unrest began.” Meanwhile, the candidate reiterated this attack and his attack on the Obama administration during a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla., after dutifully — and belatedly — extending condolences to the families of the slain, including Libyan Ambassador John Christopher Stevens. Simply undignified.
Adding to the mosh pit of lunacy was Sarah Palin. “We already know that President Obama likes to ‘speak softly’ to our enemies,” she scribbled — where else — on Facebook. “If he doesn’t have a ‘big stick’ to carry, maybe it’s time for him to grow one.” And Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus added this via Twitter, “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.” That more accurately describes Priebus and Palin.
Once again, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is the statesman in a party devoid of them. “We mourn for the families of our countrymen in Benghazi, and condemn this horrific attack,” he said in a pitch-perfect statement. “Eleven years after September 11, this is a jolting reminder that freedom remains under siege by forces around the globe who relish violence over free expression, and terror over democracy — and that America and free people everywhere must remain vigilant in defense of our liberties.” Would that Romney could learn how to do that.