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Romney Campaign Fumbles Initial Response To Attacks In Egypt And Libya

Even before the world knew that yesterday’s protests in Libya and Egypt had resulted in the deaths of four American diplomats, the political battles over the events of the day had already begun:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — For the Romney campaign, the day began with a somber nod toward campaign civility, and ended with some of the most biting criticism of President Obama to come out of its Boston headquarters all year.

At 10:09 p.m., campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul e-mailed press with a statement by Mitt Romney responding to the attacks on U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya.

“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,” the statement read. “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.”

The assertion that the administration sympathized with attackers was derived from a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo — before the compound was breached — criticizing an anti-Muslim film that “hurt the religious feelings” of others. Even after coming under attack, the Embassy spent much of the day defending and reasserting the statement on Twitter.

Whether Obama deserved the blame for the Embassy’s messaging is a point of debate; what was not was the news value of Romney’s harsher-than-expected statement. Still, reporters initially refrained from making it public, because the statement came with a midnight embargo — with the campaign requesting that press not report it until the September 11th anniversary was officially done.

But then, 15 minutes later, the campaign appeared to change its mind, and Saul told reporters the embargo was lifted and the statement could be published immediately.

Saul didn’t immediately respond to BuzzFeed’s request for an explanation, but one aide did say the initial reasoning for the embargo was “probably” to respect the 9/11 anniversary.

As Jeffrey Goldberg points out, the Romney campaign wasn’t the only Republican to be heard from:

Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus (@Reince) tweeted out the following before news of the murder of the U.S. ambassador in Libya, but after the sustained attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities there and in Egypt: “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”

There’s no proof for this assertion, of course — the mealy-mouthed tweets coming from the Cairo (the ones seemingly sympathizing with the pre-enlightenment types who believe that blasphemers deserve to be murdered) were written by embassy staff and were disavowed by the Obama Administration.

And, it didn’t take long for the Obama campaign to fire back:

The Obama campaign fired back, accusing Romney of trying to politicize the tragedy, that included the death of a State Department employee.

“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,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said.

Let’s start from the beginning here. The statement by the Romney campaign and Chairman Priebus that the Obama Administration as sympathizing with the attackers in Cairo and Benghazi is based entirely on a statement that was issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that included sentences such as this “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”  There were, however, two crucial facts that the Romney campaign didn’t wait to find out before issuing their statement. First of all, it turns out that the statement itself was issued before the protests actually started, and certainly before the tragic attack in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three others. That doesn’t necessarily make the statement acceptable, of course, but the context is important because the Romney campaign’s statement makes it seems as though the embassy statement was made in response to the embassy protests, and that’s simply not the case. The second fact that the Romney campaign’s decision to speak out in haste obscured is the fact that the White House and State Department almost immediately disavowed the Cairo Embassy statement when it became public:

The Obama administration is disavowing a statement from its own Cairo embassy that seemed to apologize for anti-Muslim activity in the United States.

“The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” an administration official told POLITICO.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo put out a statement early Tuesday that apologized for an anti-Muslim film being circulated by an Israeli-American real estate developer.

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions,” the embassy said in a statement published online.

(…)

The embassy came under widespread criticism for failing to defend free speech in the face of threats of violence. Egyptian protesters rioted anyway, breaching the embassy walls and tearing down the American flag.

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a Tuesday statement

In retrospect, especially in the wake of this morning’s news of the death of Ambassador Stevens, the Romney statement from last night looks like a crass, amateurish attempt to score political points off of a tragedy. Indeed, it’s worth noting that the statements the campaign has released in the wake of the news about the Ambassador have been far more subdued and don’t even mention politics at all. If they had the chance to take that press release back, I have a feeling that they would. But, there are no second chances in a situation like this. Not only did the Romney campaign jump the gun in the middle of what can rightfully be characterized as an unfolding international crisis, but they did so on a day when they had said they were refraining from politics. The fact that the press release was initially embargoed for release until after midnight and then, for some bizarre reason, that embargo was lifted, strikes me as an amateur hour tactic that just makes the Romney press shop look bad. There may have only been about 90 minutes left in the day, but it was still September 11th and if you’re going to promise to refrain from political attacks on that day you ought to live up to that promise.

In any event, the Romney campaign’s bungling of the initial response to this tragedy is just one example of the potential dangerous of an international crisis erupting in the middle of a Presidential campaign. Even for President Obama, everything that he does in response to these events is going to be heavily scrutinized, and he may find himself boxed into a course of action by the politics of the matter regardless of what the situation on the ground might be. For Mitt Romney, though, the incident reveals the problem of jumping the gun in situations like this. Rather than trying to politicize the situation before all the facts were in, it would have been far better for Romney to remain quiet and let the facts come in first. Indeed, that would be the appropriate reaction from a President Romney should he win the election and something like this happen under his watch.

The truth of the matter is that there are not easy answers here, even though politics always demands easy answers. Even if we wanted to retaliate, how exactly do we do that and who do we retaliate against? The vast majority of the people of Egypt and Libya had nothing to do with what happened yesterday, and there’s no indication that either government did. So, who exactly do we retaliate against here? I’m not sure I know the answer, but I’m pretty sure that issuing half-assed statements in the middle of the night before you know all the facts isn’t the right answer.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. george says:

    Does Romney bother thinking before he speaks? This is incedibly stupid, even by politicial standards (which are the lowest in the world).

    Again, its hard to like Obama as President (as opposed to a person), but Romney continuously makes it impossible to vote for himself. You have to wonder if he’s a Democrat plant into the GOP.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 6

  2. george says:

    In terms of reaction, I don’t think there’s any good one in Egypt. However, its vital not to allow censorship of religious or political views (including obnoxious ones) in the US, even if they enrage others. If people are going to react with insane violence over something like this, that’s just one of the prices you have to pay for freedom of speech.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  3. cd6 says:

    The nutjob blogs are already celebrating this because its even more proof that Obama = Carter and its 1979 all over again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  4. MR says:

    The facts and context are meaningless. The Romney campaign got their headline.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3

  5. Mr. Replica says:

    It is currently 9:52am EST.
    This article gives Romney initial stance. An amateur, crass and idiotic one at best.
    This stance is a little more than ten hours old.
    I predict Romney’s campaign walks back the comments, only to then reverse that stance a few hours later due to not wanting to look weak to the republican base. Only to have to walk back those comments again at a later time.
    I am not saying this because I am mocking Romney for being a flip-flopper. I am saying this because this is the standard actions of his campaign since….forever.
    Romney always wants his cake and to eat it too.

    I would like to add that of course Obama will be scrutinized for any position he takes on this horrible event. That’s just the way being a president works. Haters are gonna hate.
    However! I doubt very much that it will be as low as Romney’s comments.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 5

  6. mike says:

    Romney, you solidified it for me. I am not voting for you. Good work.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  7. Jay Dubbs says:

    I think we can all agree that Romney’s forays into foreign policy have been less than inspiring of confidence.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 5

  8. Fiona says:

    Romney’s now digging himself in deeper in today’s response to the attacks. What a pompous gasbag.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6

  9. Even better is Gingrich’s response:

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/09/12/gingrich-attacks-on-us-embassies-in-liby

    With his usual complete obliviousness to irony:

    Maybe it’s because I’m a conservative, maybe it’s because I come out of a different background, but when the American flag is torn down and destroyed, when an American Ambassador and three other Americans are killed, my reaction is not to find some way to be pleasant and understanding and caring about the people who are killing Americans, tearing down our flag and assaulting our country. My reaction, frankly, is pretty militant: we ought to stand up for America.

    Yes, let’s start responding to perceived symbolic slight to our pride with enraged violence! That will prove how much better than those islamic militants we are!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2

  10. MarkedMan says:

    James Joyner, tell me again why you think you have to vote for this guy? I understand you want to work from the inside to improve the Republican party and I support you 100% on that. But you gotta know this guy would be a W-level disaster for our country.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 2

  11. Anderson says:

    You have to wonder if he’s a Democrat plant into the GOP.

    Oh no you don’t. We’re not claiming him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  12. PJ says:

    Question is, based on the reactions from Romney/RNC/etc to this, if Gore had been elected President in 2001 and the 9/11 attacks had happened, would the GOP controlled Congress have waited until September 12th before they started impeachment hearings or would they have decided not to waste any days and start them on September 11th?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  13. I mentioned that my sister went to Libya a little while back. While they had security it was all very relaxed. “The people love us.” Perhaps security was low because there hadn’t been that kind of vibe in Libya.

    Also let’s note that this statement is in line with western moral philosophy on free speech:

    “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

    It doesn’t say that speech should be restricted, it just says we disapprove of speech which causes harm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  14. Aidan says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Maybe we can find a way to let Gingrich stand up for America inside the next U.S. embassy under siege by mob violence.

    “Maybe it’s because I come out of a different background…” = “Maybe it’s because I’m a white real American…”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  15. James in LA says:

    He just fumbled the presser he gave in which all he did was blame Obama and tout his “leadership” abilities. It was rather tone-deaf, and the questions he took were not friendly. He seemed like was deliberately trying to upstage the President who has yet to speak.

    So much for the water’s edge. Republican cowardice is on full display this morning.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 4

  16. KariQ says:

    Romney’s response only makes sense if you stick with the Clint Eastwood theory of Republicans seeing an Obama that is visible only to them. Their invisible Obama conducted an “apology tour” and naturally sympathizes with those who attack the country. After all, he’s a secret Muslim Marxist Communist Atheist anti-colonialist. (I always wonder when I hear that line: Who exactly is pro-colonialism?)

    Of course, none of this resembles the Obama that actually exists and that just further isolates the movement conservatives from the rest of the country.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 0

  17. @KariQ:

    I always wonder when I hear that line: Who exactly is pro-colonialism?

    Do you suppose it links to neocon nation-building?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  18. Modulo Myself says:

    Funny how the desire to prove authenticity through being outraged and violent unifies the mob storming an embassy in Egypt and the average Republican piece of shit like Romney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  19. Alanmt says:

    I never thought I would say this, but I found the statement of Secretary of State Clinton to hit exactly the right tone and send the proper message.

    On the other hand, that Florida pastor is a douchebag and bears moral responsibility for these deaths..

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  20. stonetools says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Frankly, I would urge that JJ vote for Obama in November and continue to work in the Republic Party. I think if you gave JJ truth serum, he would agree that there is no question that for the good of country, Obama and not Romney should be running foreign policy for the USA for the next four years.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  21. NBH says:

    One of the people killed was a well known person in the Eve Online community. I didn’t know him that well, but having chatted with him before puts a more real spin on this. He’s not just a name.

    http://themittani.com/news/rip-vile-rat

    Right now, I have nothing but contempt for Romney and his campaign for trying to score cheap political points out of this mess. I have some other choice words for Romney right now, but I don’t think moderation would allow them.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  22. Franklin says:

    Doesn’t matter. The “fact” that Obama sympathized with these murderers is and will remain the “truth” to dittoheads and bitheads. Just like every other false piece of information about Obama, there’s no use in trying to correct it now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  23. Quinn says:

    Once again, an outrageous attack based on a complete lie. So, if he is President are we to assume that he would launch missiles first and ask questions later? How any sane American could consider voting for this douche nozzle strains comprehension. He makes Bush look like Kissinger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  24. Scott F. says:

    Romney Campaign Fumbles Initial Response To…

    Doug – you may want to save that phrase as a macro or something. You’re going to be using it a lot over the next couple months and you shouldn’t have to type it completely out each time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  25. Franklin says:

    @NBH: Many condolences on the loss. But thanks for that: it always puts more emphasis on how real and terrible this was when you can read about the person behind the name. Just an innocent guy doing a job, killed for no reason, apparently some movie he probably was never even aware of.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  26. gVOR08 says:

    The Romney response was not over hasty and clumsy. It was well tailored to it’s target audience -Sheldon Adelson.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  27. mike says:

    Newt stands up for America? I guess that is why he joined the Army and became a Green Beret, then a Seal, and then a Ninja – fighting for his country throughout his life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  28. Jr says:

    He is a clown…..that is all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  29. rudderpedals says:

    I thought Dan Senor was running Romney’s foreign policy shop? Apparently not, so who is running it?

    Can you begin to imagine how many overseas conflicts this man will inadvertently cause? He’s a walking attractive nuisance.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  30. Ron Beasley says:

    Even Peggy Noonan said Romney didn’t do himself any favors. But still he is only doubling down this morning.@MarkedMan: I agree – W redux on all accounts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  31. legion says:

    In any event, the Romney campaign’s bungling of the initial response to this tragedy is just one example of the potential dangerous of an international crisis erupting in the middle of a Presidential campaign.

    No, it’s not. The world goes on, regardless of the US’ election cycles. That’s not a danger, it’s an opportunity for both the incumbent and the candidate to show their character and suitability to the office, and Romney just lost the election. He has shown, beyond any shred of doubt, that he simply does not have the character or moral fiber to be President. This isn’t a small thing – it’s not a minor flub. It goes to the very heart of what sort of person we could have in the Oval Office during a time of crisis. And having Mitt Romney there would result in armageddon. Do you think someone like that would not already have US forces parachuting into Libya and Egypt? Do you not think he would be engaging in acts of war against multiple countries? Do you think any of that is a good idea or proper response to this?

    After this, there is simply no way I can show even passing politeness towards anyone who puts Romney forth as a viable candidate for any level of authority. Anyone who still supports him, after this pathetic, embarrassing display, is simply a drooling moron, and will be treated as such.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  32. michael reynolds says:

    Romney is an empty suit with nothing in his little head but ambition and greed.

    Not ready for prime time? He’s not ready for basic cable.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 0

  33. @mike:

    I’m reminded that my single favorite part of the Republican primary debates was Ron Paul’s curb-stomping of Gingirch’s multiple deferrments (“When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went.”).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  34. anjin-san says:

    This is the second time he has blundered into a tense foreign situation seeking to gain political advantage for himself. Clearly he is not a man who learns from his mistakes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  35. mike says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Newt just had too many important things to do than simple to serve his country. He certainly has no reservations about volunteering up our forces to go into harm’s way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. stonetools says:

    @Scott F.:

    Doug – you may want to save that phrase as a macro or something. You’re going to be using it a lot over the next couple months and you shouldn’t have to type it completely out each time.

    The horrible thing is that over 45 % of the country wants us to be typing this for the next four years! I’m going to ask Doug that he reconsider wasting his vote on Johnson.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  37. I think what Romney did was deeply wrong, but I kind of worry that it will fly. Perhaps it is just my day to be too pessimistic about voter awareness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  38. Aidan says:

    This is a situation that calls for stronger language than “fumbles.” He didn’t “bungle” this. This isn’t a gaffe. He wasn’t speaking off the cuff. He didn’t “misspeak.” He and his campaign made a conscious decision to use an ongoing tragedy to launch a calculated, shameless, and despicable political attack based on an utter falsehood. There is no reason to dance around this.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 0

  39. C. Clavin says:

    Romney may still win this election…but this morning I am more confident having Obama as CIC…and Romney’s position justifies that.

    The film-makers are completely within their rights. The Constitution protects stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  40. C. Clavin says:

    @ Aiden…
    Remember the OTB credo….
    “Both Sides Do It!!!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  41. Mr. Replica says:

    http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/romney-libya-attack-benghazi.php

    Romney Repeats False Libya Attack, Accuses Obama Of ‘Apology’ For America

    In a press conference delivered minutes after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the attacks, Romney expanded on his initial statement, in which he said the administration’s first response was “to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

    “We join together in the condemnation of attacks on the American embassies and the loss of American life and join in sympathy for these people,”Romney said. “It’s also important for me — just as it was for the White House, last night by the way — to say that the statements were inappropriate, and in my view a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.”

    Confronted by reporters about his apparently contradictory chronology, Romney said on Wednesday that his attack was fair because the embassy’s Twitter feed later stood by its initial statement after the protests escalated (it also condemned the breach of its grounds). Those tweets were later deleted.

    “The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also for the words that come from his ambassadors from his administration, from his embassies, from the State Department,” he said. “They clearly sent mixed messages to the world, and the statement that came from the administration, and the embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a severe miscalculation.”

    Romney defended his decision to condemn the president even when the facts and chronology were still unclear.

    “I don’t think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles,” he said.

    Romney declined to answer whether he would have said the same thing on Tuesday if he had known that Stevens had been killed in the attack.

    “I’m not going to take hypothetical what would have been known when and so forth,” he said. “We responded last night to the events that happened in Egypt.”

    I guess this means Romney is just a step or two away from committing the troops military to retaliate?

    Might as well change the photo of this article, Doug. The Picard facepalm would be much better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  42. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    It will fly with people who were already going to vote against Mr. Obama. (As far as I can tell, no one is voting for Mr. Romney, with the possible exception of his own family.) As a pander to the Jewish vote in Florida, I doubt it works.

    Other Republicans are leaving Romney out there twisting on this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  43. C. Clavin says:

    Ready for the 3am call?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  44. stonetools says:

    The foreign policy debate between Obama and Romney is going to be a doozy!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  45. anjin-san says:

    Foreign Policy Hands Voice Disbelief At Romney Statement
    Mitt Romney’s “sharply-worded attack on President Obama over a pair of deadly riots in Muslim countries last night has backfired badly among foreign policy hands of both parties, who cast it as hasty and off-key, released before the facts were clear at what has become a moment of tragedy,” Ben Smith reports.

    Said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand: “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 another Republican: “I guess we see now that it is because they’re incompetent at talking effectively about foreign policy. This is just unbelievable — when they decide to play on it they completely bungle it.”

    Another said it was “a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.”

    http://politicalwire.com/archives/2012/09/12/foreign_policy_hands_voice_disbelief_at_romney_statement.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  46. Jr says:

    I hate to say this may be fatal……..but yeah this may be fatal.

    He looks completely unfit to be Commander-an-Chief.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  47. mantis says:

    Romney needs to personally apologize to the families of the Americans whose deaths he has been gleefully and cravenly using to score political points.

    What a disgusting little scumbag. People want this man to run our foreign policy? I wouldn’t trust him not to create an international incident at a P.F. Chang’s.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  48. Mr. Replica says:

    @anjin-san:

    Foreign Policy Hands Voice Disbelief At Romney Statement

    I was going to post that as well, but you beat me to the punch. Instead I’ll just post this short clip from a movie called Super Troopers. Seems to sum up Governor Romney pretty well, I think.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyAgWQqL-bE

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  49. stonetools says:

    I think this is the final straw among the Beltway crowd on the issue of who would be the better foreign policy leader over the next four years. Doug and JJ, take note and vote accordingly. Foreign policy ain’t for bumbling opportunists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  50. C. Clavin says:

    I’m still waiting for Jan to come along and defend Romney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  51. stonetools says:

    Like this reponse on the Political Wire blog:

    This is easily the most disgusting thing I’ve seen in a presidential campaign in my lifetime. This has been an odd election. I’ve moved from considering supporting Gary Johnson, to tentatively supporting Obama for the SCOTUS picks, to thinking that Obama deserves a second term because, on balance, he hasn’t been “that bad” in the face of strident Republican opposition. But all that just entailed going into the booth and pulling the lever.

    That has now changed. I am fully, completely committed to doing anything I can to make sure that POS Romney never makes it anywhere near the office of the president. I’ll be donating and volunteering for the Obama campaign now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  52. Xenos says:

    I am going to have to apologize to the internet in general, and to this site, for the conspiracy theories I was considering and proposing. There is no way such a thorough clusterf*ck could have been planned by people with enough intelligence to remember to breath. When Sununu and Peggy Noonan come out in public to, effectively, declare that the republican candidate is a jerk, it is game over.

    Four more years. That is not a cheer, that is the reality. Romney has absolutely lost Virginia at this point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  53. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    She disappeared as soon as the polls shifted. Hasn’t been back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  54. Rob in CT says:

    Question is, based on the reactions from Romney/RNC/etc to this, if Gore had been elected President in 2001 and the 9/11 attacks had happened, would the GOP controlled Congress have waited until September 12th before they started impeachment hearings or would they have decided not to waste any days and start them on September 11th?

    Oh, I think that it’s obvious that the GOP response would’ve been different than the Dem response. Huge terrorist attack on your watch? IOKIYAR. If you’re a Dem, though? Oh, no. On 9/12, the political attacks would have begun. If the Dems had actually pushed the issue in 2001 and uncovered the ignored briefings, perhaps Bush the Lesser wouldn’t have been able to launch his excellent Iraqi adventure. Wishful thinking, I know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  55. stonetools says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I’m still waiting for Jan to come along and defend Romney.

    This may be her toughest assignment yet. While the right wing bloggers are busy celebrating the White House’s “disavowal” of the “Embassy apology”, nobody appears to be defending the Romney and RNC statements. Indeed, the National Review doesn’t even mention the statements on their home page. That’s telling.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  56. michael reynolds says:

    Andrew Sullivan has it right:

    These people are simply unfit for the responsibility of running the United States. The knee-jerk judgments, based on ideology not reality; the inability to back down when you have said something obviously wrong; and the attempt to argue that the president of the US actually sympathized with those who murdered his own ambassador in Benghazi: these are disqualifying instincts for someone hoping to be the president of the US. Disqualifying.

    None of this surprises me. When I say that Romney is an empty man, that’s not just a random insult. There’s nothing inside this guy but greed and ambition. That’s been clearly visible since the start. He has no business being President of the United States.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  57. Septimius says:

    So Romney criticizes a statement made by the embassy in Cairo, a statement disavowed by the White House, and Romney is the one who “fumbled.” Got it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

  58. David M says:

    Romney appears to be doubling down on his previous statement this morning, so I really don’t know what’s going in that campaign. I am impressed Romney managed to disappoint again on foreign policy, and at a time when issuing a brief statement condemning the attacks shouldn’t be the that difficult.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  59. mantis says:

    @Septimius:

    So Romney criticizes a statement made by the embassy in Cairo, a statement disavowed by the White House, and Romney is the one who “fumbled.” Got it.

    No, Romney uses the deaths of Americans to score political points against the president, claiming that Obama is on the side of the rioters. He and you are scum.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  60. ptfe says:

    @michael reynolds: What’s strange about this phenomenon is that it’s the exact opposite of how we’ve seen Romney act in every other aspect of this campaign. He usually has no shame about his flip-flops, but when he’s legitimately called out for something he’s wrong about — and note we’re not talking about making crap up in a tax plan or effects of Romneycare on Massachusetts’ economy, but falsifiable information that isn’t subject to interpretation or debate — he holds the line, as though apologizing for being too quick to judge or being ill-informed is somehow worse than holding four simultaneous viewpoints in a two-sided argument. He’s gone to the track and bet on #3 to show, but #3 has pulled out before the race starts; instead of accepting the loss and walking away, he’s decided to change that to a bet to win.

    He’s starting to look less like a guy who did his best to stay away from the amateur hour clown show lineup that masqueraded as the Republican primary and more like someone who actually just showed up late and is pissed he missed the pie fight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  61. Steve Verdon says:

    @NBH:

    Sean Smith, aka Vile Rat, well known in Eve Online? That is putting it mildly. The guy was a legend…no really. He was known to just about every player more than a few months old. I never knew him in game personally, but to die in such a senseless manner is simply awful.

    Romney’s use of his death as a political talking point is pathetic to me.

    Shoot blues and tell Vile Rat about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  62. legion says:

    @Septimius: Yes, you insipid moron, Romney f*cked up. Even when Romney made his first statement, it was clear that the embassy release he was griping about had been sent out _before_ the actual attacks. But rather than accept that, and move forward with a more worthwhile message, he doubles down on his own failure.

    It’s not just a “fumble”; it’s a full-on disaster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  63. Septimius says:

    @legion:

    “The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” an administration official told POLITICO.

    It’s always nice when a presidential administration has to release a statement that its own embassy doesn’t reflect the views of the United States government. Especially when the sole purpose of having an embassy is to, you know, reflect the views of the United States government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  64. Hal 10000 says:

    So Romney made a snap judgement without having all the facts? My God, I think this man is presidential material!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  65. muffler says:

    Reminds me of McCain in 2008… jump the gun with little info to gain publicity

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  66. Anonne says:

    @muffler: That is the nature of the modern Republican Party. Shameful, and shameless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  67. Stephen1947 says:

    For those opining that President Gore would have been treated differently than President Bush when 9/11 happened, I have to say that 9/11 probably wouldn’t have happened, because the Gore administration would have probably paid A LOT MORE attention to the content of the security briefings warning that such an attack was in the works.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  68. legion says:

    @Septimius: Yes, and as it’s been stated elsewhere, religious tolerance and free speech are (still) American Values that our diplomats can and should speak about. The fact that this particular statement wasn’t fully-vetted before its release – which was likely impossible, considering the growing tensions in Egypt and the time difference back in DC – means exactly nothing. This story is _still_ about Mitt Romney’s unseemly politicking off of the deaths of others when he should have been standing together with the rest of America.

    And before you say something else stupid, go read Doug’s post about how Reagan and GHW Bush handled themselves in similar crises.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  69. stonetools says:

    I’ll say one thing, the Right wing is resilient. They are mounting an impressive counter offensive on Memeorandum, led by William Kristol and Jennifer Rubin. The meme they are promoting is that the jihadi attacks, and the American response to them , show “weakness” and a “lack of leadership” by the Obama Administration. Its truly amazing how they can just spin an alternate reality out of nothing. By tonight, I expect Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to follow suit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  70. NBH says:

    @Steve Verdon:

    I never would have thought an online game would affect my politics, but it’s made Romney’s idiocy more personal and tangible.

    It’s depressing that Sean will now just be a giant in Eve history instead of a giant in current Eve politics. The ability of him and some of the older players in Goonswarm to work together and rise to the top for so long is an amazing feat in such a cut-throat game.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  71. legion says:

    @stonetools:

    By tonight, I expect Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to follow suit.

    Bet on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  72. Steve Verdon says:

    @NBH:

    No kidding on all accounts.

    As for Vile Rat himself, usually by the time a player gets to where he did he is a “bitter vet” but it sounds like he still loved the game. Maybe not logging in and playing on the server every day, but he sounds like he was still very much hands on.

    Vile Rat’s wife, “I was told Sean was a ‘legend’ on Eve. Funniest thing I ever heard, still makes me smile.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  73. bill says:

    @Stephen1947: sure, manbearpig would’ve reacted to clintons inaction? awesome, super-seriously ? i pictured him hiding in a bathroom, really.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  74. An Interested Party says:

    sure, manbearpig would’ve reacted to clintons inaction?

    Sorry sweetie, but 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch…

    i pictured him hiding in a bathroom, really.

    As opposed to looking dazed while reading a children’ book…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  75. matt says:

    @NBH: WEll it’s interesting to see that there are other people here who play Eve online. When Sean logged off he said he heard gunfire but I don’t think anyone in the room expected this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  76. Carey Grayson says:

    I’ve been watching this on various news outlets for two days now and not one has provided all the facts as this article does. None of them mention that the initial response came from the US Embassy, not from the Obama administration. They don’t mention the remarks came before the actual attacks to try and defuse the situation. They are complicit in spreading mis-information just as with the Romney campaign. Knowing this makes me realize what a despicable character Romney is for speaking out the way he did for obfuscating the facts for his own political gain. He’s a vampire.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  77. Mr. Replica says:

    Time-Line Of Cairo Events Reveals Romney’s Deeply Flawed Rush To Judgment

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/09/13/time-line-of-cairo-events-reveals-romneys-deeply-flawed-rush-to-judgment/

    The comment section is even better than the article. But, again, it’s nice to see that when the facts come out, Romney and his followers yet again do not let the facts get in the way.

    …and by nice, I mean pathetic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0