The reviews on Mitt’s smirking Libyan remarks are endless. Here are a few:
The miscalculation at work here is that Romney believed his “Apology Tour” method would neatly fit the events at hand — take an event that sort of vaguely resembled an Obama apology to Muslims who don’t like us, twist it around, and call it a day. But Romney had grown accustomed to spinning fantasies cobbled together from months-old Obama speeches and nurtured into legend by extensive repetition and exaggeration in the conservative subculture. What he failed to realize from the outset was that the embassy attack was an immediate, high-profile event that he could not hope to rewrite so brazenly. Forced to confront the yawning chasm between reality and the fantasy he had wallowed in so long, Romney was exposed and, justifiably, discredited.
As a practical matter, this episode shows how useless Romney’s main foreign policy theme has been. According to Romney, Obama “apologizes for” America, and Romney won’t. He tried to shoehorn the embassy attacks into this frame, and it didn’t work for at least two reasons. First, Obama didn’t respond to the attacks by apologizing for anything or sympathizing with the attackers, as Romney’s original statement charged, so it was blatantly false. Romney’s position that the U.S. should never “apologize for” American values is almost beside the point. Would this have made any difference to the people assaulting the embassy in Cairo or the consulate in Benghazi? Would the attacks not have happened if Romney had been conducting his own brand of thoroughly unapologetic activist foreign policy? It seems unlikely… Now instead of portraying Obama as Carter, he has presented himself as the bumbling McCain figure of 2012.
Mark Halperin was not impressed:
Unless the Romney campaign has gamed this crisis out in some manner completely invisible to the Gang of 500, his doubling down on criticism of the President for the statement coming out of Cairo is likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign.
And in a follow up post: In a time of immediate crisis, when American lives have been lost and more might be at stake, a challenger should consider reserving judgment, and perhaps even confer or show solidarity with the administration. Whatever political points Romney might score within one 24-hour news cycle are just not worth it.
I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors, say in the past few hours, perhaps since last night. Sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go.
“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.
A former aide to Senator John McCain‘s 2008 presidential campaign:
“It’s bad. 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.“
“It wasn’t presidential of Romney to go political immediately — a tragedy of this magnitude should be something the nation collectively grieves before politics enters the conversation.”
This is a time when we all should reflect on those who continue to give, even the last measure, of service and sacrifice, to promoting and defending America’s interests abroad. This is above all a reminder that politics should end at the waters edge.
Former Bush administration DHS Secretary Tom Ridge:
I don’t think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us. I don’t think any American does.
And of course Romney himself once condemned Jones and his plan to burn a Quran as “wrong on every level. It puts troops in danger, and it violates a founding principle of our republic.” [...] 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.
Mr. Romney could easily have held his fire during this crisis, if he could not summon the decency to support the United States government. Instead, he misrepresented the administration as “sympathizing” with the attackers. There was no truth in what he said. In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the first official comment on the killings, a strong condemnation, before Mr. Romney released his statement. Even after having a night to reconsider his response, Mr. Romney merely doubled down on his false charges, as he is prone to do.
At a news conference, Mr. Romney claimed that the administration had delivered “an apology for America’s values.” In fact, it had done no such thing: Religious tolerance, as much as freedom of speech, is a core American value. The movie that provoked the protests, which mocks the prophet Mohammed and portrays Muslims as immoral and violent, is a despicable piece of bigotry; it was striking that Mr. Romney had nothing to say about such hatred directed at a major religious faith. Mr. Obama struck the right tone on Wednesday, saying that “we reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others” but that “there is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence.” Lauding Mr. Stevens’s service, the president promised “justice” for “this terrible act” while also committing the administration to continue cooperating with Libya’s democratic government — which apologized for the attack.
The Romney campaign, according to CNN, helpfully passed out suggestions for supporters who might want to defend Mitt. (When asked whether he was too quick on the attack, loyalists were supposed to say: “No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests.”) [...] Two months to go and we’re rethinking our presumption that the Republican primary voters picked the most stable option.
These events are events that test presidential candidates in really profound ways. As a test of being able to think on your feet, how to be serious, sober, respectful, to not seem crass, to not seem exploitative. [Mitt Romney] has failed all those tests.
There is no circumstance in which I want to wake up in the morning to a national tragedy only to watch the leader of the nation smirk about it, apparently imagining in his head how he can best gain advantage from it. Goddamn it, no. That is too much and then some. That is disqualifying.