Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Commander in Chief

So President Obama's planned speech in Las Vegas tonight got pushed back to after 6:00 PM. I'm sure it must be frustrating for people lining up to see him tonight, but it's really the best move. After all, he's had to handle a major transnational crisis.

What certainly wasn't the best move was what Mitt Romney has been doing today. Even some REPUBLICANS were repulsed by what he said and did.

"They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up," said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an "utter disaster" and a "Lehman moment" — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.

He and other members of both parties cited the Romney campaign's recent dismissals of foreign policy's relevance. One adviser dismissed the subject to BuzzFeed as a "shiny object," while another told Politico that the subject was the "president's turf," drawing a rebuke from Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol.

"I guess we see now that it is because they’re incompetent at talking effectively about foreign policy," said the Republican. "This is just unbelievable — when they decide to play on it they completely bungle it." [...]

"It's bad," said a former aide to Senator John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. "Just on a factual level that the statement was not a response but preceding, or one could make the case precipitating. And just calling it a 'disgrace' doesn't really cut it. Not ready for prime time."

Wow. US Embassies in Egypt and Libya were attacked. The nation needed to know the situation was under control, and the families of those lost needed a chance to grieve and pay proper respect to those lost. Yet instead of showing any kind of respect, Romney just went apeshit and performed the equivalent of opening a tank of gasoline at the site of a raging wildfire.

Now, Mitt Romney is not just an embarrassment to his own party. He's become an embarrassment to the entire country. And what makes Romney even more embarrassing is that he flat out lied about what US diplomats were doing in Egypt and Libya. As always, here's Desert Beacon with the real rundown.

Yes, indeed, the attacks were outrageous, but notice that the Romney statement fails to differentiate between official State Department statements and a release by the Cairo Embassy well in advance of the protests which sought to explain that the motion picture so offensive to some Muslims was not indicative of American attitudes toward members of the Islamic faith. A point raised by President George Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks and maintained by his successor. Both the Bush and Obama Departments of State repeatedly sought to sustain cooperation with Middle Eastern, African, and Asian nations by emphasizing that the American government dislikes terrorists but does not vilify all Muslims. The previous point should be repeated: Those briefing are as informative as the host government is cooperative. [...]

Unfortunately, the only initial message from Governor Romney is that he is angry and doesn’t think the President is doing a good job. It doesn’t take diplomatic credentials to figure that out, but it also doesn’t give our friends and enemies any hints about how he might address similar issues in subsequent talks with them.

There was a message in the President’s remarks: “We’re working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats,” he said. “I’ve also directed my Administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world. And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.” (emphasis added) The collaborative nature of the activities is on notice. The United States has received the assurance of the Libyan government that it will “fully” cooperate, and will act in concert with the Libyan government to secure what we want — bringing the perpetrators of the attack to justice.

And, while the U.S. works with the Libyan government Americans may learn that there are 22 shabiyats or districts in Libya, and four significant political parties. However, the most important word is “with” — we will not act on them, or independently of them, but WITH them — sending the message that we accept them as a full partner and equal on the world’s diplomatic stage. The right responses help send the right messages.

Mitt Romney was actually trying to (mis)use this tragedy to score political points. And in trying this, Romney lied about what President Obama said. And in trying this, Romney just pissed all over White House efforts to diffuse and ultimately resolve this situation.

What Romney seems to advocate is terrible foreign policy... If it can actually be called "policy" at all. But is it also bad politics. Salon's Joan Walsh seems to think so. And she may actually have a valid point.

So Romney wasn’t criticizing Obama’s Libya policy with his statement. He was lying. He was making cheap political points out of the killings of four American public servants. From his tin-eared criticism of our closest ally during the Olympics, to his bluster on sensitive dealings with China and Iran, to his failure to even mention troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq during his Tampa speech, Romney is proving he would be a disaster as president.

Critics (and even some admirers) have pointed to Romney’s success at Bain Capital and noted that it was predicated on his willingness to do anything it took to close a deal. Mr. Bain will do or say anything to close the deal on his presidential run, including lie. It’s ugly, and it won’t work. Romney will pay for his cruel Sept. 11 opportunism in November.

I've always known Mitt Romney was willing to stoop as low as possible to score some kind of political advantage. But in pursuing this campaign to "de-American-ize" President Obama and play "tea party" fueled bigotry against Obama, Romney may ultimately be hurting himself. It certainly looks that way now.

What President Obama has done today is what we expect of a President. Sometimes, a campaign trip to Las Vegas has to be delayed because The President needs to handle a situation brewing in The Middle East. On the other hand, what Mitt Romney has done today totally disqualifies him to be Commander in Chief.

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