In seeking to define President Obama as a foreign policy failure, sympathetic to Muslim protesters, Mitt Romney ignored the fact that Americans were killed and under threat overseas.
He called the president’s actions “disgraceful” on Tuesday night.
As all the facts came to light it was clear that Romney’s Tuesday statement was not consistent with the facts.
In the face of overwhelming evidence that his original statement was wrong and news that an American ambassador had been killed, Romney doubled down on his attack on the president criticizing embassy staff and the president for “sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks.”
On Tuesday Romney had confused a statement from the US Embassy in Egypt with one coming from the White House. On Wednesday instead of admitting his error, he preferred to construct a legal sounding argument to back his claim. Specifically he said, “The embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to an apology and I think was a severe miscalculation.”
It was Romney who miscalculated.
That miscalculation is a defining moment in the campaign.
In the end it is Romney who was defined by the president.
Obama’s charge that “Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later” has tremendous resonance.
In an interview with 60 Minutes Obama delivered a stern rebuke to Romney’s mistakes and miscalculations: “As president, one of the things I’ve learned is you can’t do that. That it’s important for you to make sure the statements you make are backed up by the facts and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”
The Middle East needs a steady hand. American foreign policy needs a strong and thoughtful leader at the helm.
Romney’s ham-handed response shows that he does not have the temperament required of a Commander-in-Chief.
When Romney woke up on Wednesday and learned the facts, including the death of four Americans – including an ambassador, he made a decision to double down on attacking the president.
He even heaped blame and criticism on our ambassadors before their colleague’s body was cold.
An adviser to the Romney campaign who worked in the George W. Bush administration told the New York Times that Romney “had forgotten the first rule in a crisis: don’t start talking before you understand what’s happening.”
But it is far worse than that. Even after Romney had some understanding of what was happening on the ground he continued his political strategy.
While Romney slammed our overseas public servants, President Obama offered these words to a crowd in Nevada, “It’s a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy, sometimes even the freedoms we take for granted, they’re only sustained because there are people like those who were killed who are willing to stand up for those freedoms, who were willing to fight for those freedoms, in some cases to lay down their lives for those freedoms. So tonight, let’s think of them and thank them.”
Obama vowed to bring the killers to justice and had an additional message to deliver: “We want to send a message all around the world to anybody that would do us harm: no act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.”
The strength in Obama’s reaction stands in strong contrast to Romney’s hollow criticisms.
Romney, who bicycled about France while others of his generation went to war in Vietnam, holds absolutely no ability to judge what people should or should not do when under siege and to consider the president of the United States a sympathizer with the killers of an American ambassador defies logical thinking.
About Bill Buck
Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.