Shorter Question Everything
This isn’t the first time Romney has jumped into foreign policy issue without having the facts, falling all over himself in his eagerness to get the first smear in. I really hope it’s the last time he can do it.
Something has to be noted here. That smirk. There’s already been such a gleeful tone from much of the right wing – mostly in the form of hoping that the economy worsens – that’s been unseemly. This smirking in the face of the killing of US personnel overseas? This is not someone that should be in charge, ever.
THIS JUST IN: Romney caught smirking, twice, while doing press conference about murdered US ambassador to Libya. There are two photos, not one – this wasn’t just an odd moment where the camera caught an odd expression. The man was smirking during and while leaving a press conference about the murder of a US ambassador in the middle of a growing and major foreign policy crisis.
Check out this first photo of Romney leaving the press conference, thinking no one can see his face. Smug, happy with himself, as though he pulled an “I gotcha” on President Obama rather than somber about the fact that Americans lay dead and our country is now embroiled in a major foreign policy crisis. Romney is, instead, pleased. With himself. Romney’s reaction: He smirked.
Jed at DailyKos caught a second instance of Romney smirking, self-assuredly, while discussing the murder of Americans in a major foreign policy crisis.
To suggest that the man is not ready for prime-time would be putting it lightly. He’s smiling, happy, content at a moment of national crisis when American lie dead?
• Mitt’s smirking disaster: Take a look at the smirk on Mitt Romney’s face at the conclusion of his disastrous press conference basically accusing the president of sympathizing with the people who attacked and killed American embassy personnel in Libya. That’s the smirk of a very self-impressed man. He has no clue how deeply he’s hurt himself.
• 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. – Mark Halperin
That it’s fundamentally dishonest hasn’t stopped Mitt Romney from repeating his central critique of Barack Obama’s foreign policy over and over – the idea that the president “went around the world and apologized for America.” So it shouldn’t be surprising that Romney’s response to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic installations in Egypt and Libya was rooted in the same caricature of Obama as apologizer-in-chief.
“It’s disgraceful,” Romney’s statement, which was released late Tuesday night, read, “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.”
That’s not at all what happened, of course. The actual chronology goes something like this: As anti-American protests inspired by a crude Terry Jones video began gathering steam, the U.S. embassy in Cairo – and not the Obama White House — put out a statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
The obvious intent was to cool the passions of the protesters. As Marc Ambinder explained, it was “exactly what Americans inside the embassy who are scared for their lives now and worry about revenge later need to have released in their name.”
It has since been learned that a total of four people – the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three of his staff members – were killed in the attacks. President Obama has now issued a statement condemning the assault, praising Stevens, and pledging “all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe.”
The foolishness of Romney’s reaction is glaring. Pretending that the statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo was anything other than a completely understandable and reasonable attempt by its occupants to save their own lives borders on disgraceful. Romney’s implication that the statement was issued at the height of the attacks is also false; it was actually released earlier in the day, a preventive measure aimed at keeping the protests from turning violent.
But this hasn’t stopped other Republicans – including RNC chairman Reince Priebus and Sarah Palin – from echoing the Romney line. Again, it probably shouldn’t be surprising. This is the kind of nonsense you’ll get when one party spends four years convincing itself that a president is something he isn’t.
After being widely criticized this morning for his ugly and dishonest criticism of the Obama administration overnight, Mitt Romney appeared before the cameras this morning, delivering a statement and fielding some questions from reporters.
At a certain level, this should have been relatively easy. All Romney had to was come out, denounce the violence, honor the fallen, and extend his condolences to the families of the victims. In other words, Romney could have used this opportunity to undo some of the damage from his self-inflicted wound, and appear presidential.
Alas, Romney once again chose a different path.
Mark Halperin, a barometer of the political establishment’s attitudes, called this the “most craven” and “ill-advised move” of the 2012 campaign.
It’s just remarkable to see Romney unravel like this. Within hours of learning that a respected U.S. ambassador had been killed by a violent mob overseas, the Republican’s first instinct was to launch a partisan campaign attack against the president. It came after a dishonest smear of the president last night — on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, when Romney said he’d refrain from such attacks.
The nine-minute clip is well worth your time. Just two minutes in, Romney condemned messages from officials under attack in the U.S. embassy in Cairo, falsely accusing them “apologizing for our values.”
Romney noted that the White House distanced itself from the same messages, which only made this morning’s statement that much more misguided — Romney was, simultaneously, saying the White House is wrong, the White House is right, and the White House is sending “mixed signals.”
We talked earlier about the violent protests that killed four Americans in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Politically, Mitt Romney, relying on false information, called the Obama administration’s response “disgraceful,” and accused the administration of “sympathiz[ing] with those” who killed U.S. officials abroad.
It seems as if Romney has finally gone too far. NBC News’ First Read called out “one of the most over-the-top and (it turns out) incorrect attacks of the general-election campaign,” which looks “worse and worse” as more information comes to light.
This was news-cycle campaigning by the Romney campaign gone awry. Why didn’t the Romney campaign wait until it had all the facts? On his overseas trip in the summer, Romney was so careful not to criticize Obama while on foreign soil. But how much time do you give an administration to work through a diplomatic and international crisis before trying to score immediate political points? You’d expect the Sarah Palins of the world to quickly pounce on something like this, and she predictably did. But a presidential nominee running for the highest office in the land?
After the facts have come out, last night’s Romney statement only feeds the narrative that his campaign is desperate.
• Republicans, even at the highest levels of the party, are literally incapable of engaging in a rational debate about policy because they’re so busy resenting the imaginary liberals that live in their own heads.
• Over the top: Yesterday we noted that Mitt Romney, down in the polls after the convention, was throwing the kitchen sink at President Obama. Little did we know the kitchen sink would include — on the anniversary of 9/11 — one of the most over-the-top and (it turns out) incorrect attacks of the general-election campaign . Last night after 10:00 pm ET, Romney released a statement on the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya. After saying he was “outraged” by these attacks and the death of an American consulate worker, Romney said, “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.” Yet after learning every piece of new information about those attacks, the Romney statement looks worse and worse — and simply off-key. 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. Then this morning, we learned that the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and others died in one of the attacks. Bottom line: This was news-cycle campaigning by the Romney campaign gone awry. Why didn’t the Romney campaign wait until it had all the facts?
• Virtually no GOP elected officials follow Romney in his attacks on Obama over Libya attacks. Mitt Romney’s harsh and factually inaccurate condemnation of President Obama’s handling of a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya puts him well in front of the rest of his party. Romney’s aggressive attacks on Obama are a reversal from Romney’s usual approach, where he waits for the party to reach a consensus before stepping in. As the severity of the attacks became clear — including confirmation that Ambassador Chris Stevens had died in Benghazi, Libya — and Romney’s chronology was called out in the press as demonstrably false, few Republicans stepped forward to follow the Republican nominee’s lead. In the House and Senate, top Republican leaders refrained from mentioning Obama, and instead offered messages of sympathy, unity and even praise for the State Department.
• Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus accused the president of siding with the rioters: Reince Priebus – Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.
• Mitt Romney got the capital of Libya wrong in his opportunistic statement this morning criticizing the President about his handling of the attacks against the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Romney referred in his statement to the “embassies” and particularly to “our embassy at Benghazi, Libya.” Any first year international relations student knows that our diplomatic offices in the capital are “embassies,” and our officies in cities that are not the capital are “consulates.” This means that Romney either had no idea what the capital of Libya was (Tripli, obviously), or he had no idea what the difference is between embassies and consulates, which is so basic diplomacy 101 that it’s frightening that Mitt Romney wants to be commander in chief in four months and had no idea about the difference.
• GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will likely face questions of his own today, not only about his foreign policy views (Romney had at least five different positions on Libya as of last October) but about his statesmanship. Before news spread that four Americans had been killed in Benghazi, Romney yesterday issued a statement saying in part: “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.” This is an attack that does not stand up to simple chronology. …[T]he US Embassy in Cairo …statement was issued before the attacks on the diplomatic missions.
• Romney and the RNC confuse the timeline: Jake Tapper has a very good, and aptly titled, piece on some Republicans’ criticism of Obama over the attacks in Libya. It points out that, as mistermix said, the embassy’s statement came out before the violence began, and it ends by calling a lie a lie. The evidence that the president “sympathizes with attackers in Egypt” was not immediately apparent, likely because it does not in any way exist.
• Here’s President Obama’s actual initial statement after the attacks became known.: I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives. The President then said that security would be increased at diplomatic posts worldwide, and added this: “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.” The timeline of events has been confirmed by the State Department. I know that politics doesn’t end at the water’s edge anymore, but exploiting a tragedy by shifting around the timeline is pretty weak.
• Didn’t sit well with the Obama campaign, who accused Romney of exploiting the crisis for electoral gain. “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,” Obama’s campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said in a statement.
• 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.
• Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed the death at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, according to the Associated Press. Angry mobs descended on the consulate in Libya and the embassy in Egypt to protest an online film promoted by American pastor Terry Jones that denounces Islam. In a previous incident tied to Jones, a riot at a U.N. mission in Afghanistan killed 12 people in 2011, including three United Nations workers and four security guards, after mullahs urged followers to protest the Florida pastor’s burning of a Koran. More were killed in additional protests elsewhere in the country.
• An armed mob attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, late Tuesday, hours after Egyptians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest a film they denounced as blasphemous against Islam. One American was reported dead and one slightly wounded, according to Wanis al-Sharef, an interior ministry official in Benghazi. One American consulate employee was shot dead and another was wounded in the hand. Witnesses reported that much of the consulate was burned.
• Conservatist Muslims in Egypt climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday, made their way into the courtyard and brought down the flag, replacing it with a black flag with an Islamic inscription to protest a film attacking Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Egyptian media say the movie [which sparked the protest] was recently produced in the United States by an anti-Muslim group. The film, clips of which are available on the social website YouTube, depicts Muhammad as a fraud, showing him having sex and calling for massacres. Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way. The protests came after some Egyptian media have been reporting on the film for several days, with ultraconservative clerics going on air to denounce it.
About the ‘film’
• Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai has condemned a US-made anti-Islam film insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Protests have erupted in several countries including Libya and Egypt in response to the sacrilegious film. Earlier, the US ambassador to Libya along with three other consulate staff members were killed in Benghazi after a group of angry demonstrators reportedly attacked the consulate building over the insulting film.
• The film in question is, being promoted by Terry Jones, the attention-whore Florida preacher who was once talked out of a Koran burning by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The film is certainly intended to be as provocative as a Koran-burning, as The Atlantic notes: What exactly does the film say? It’s still not clear, but it appears to compare Mohammed to a goat and Muslims, according to one translation, to “child-lovers.” … The man in [one] scene says of his donkey, “This is the first Muslim animal.” He asks the goat if it likes girls; when it doesn’t answer, he bursts into laughter and says, “He doesn’t like girls,” according to [Liam] Stack of The New York Times]. Other scenes … seem to portray Muslim Egyptian characters, who for some reason all have strong New York accents, as immoral and violent, particularly toward the Christians whom they pursue with near-genocidal fervor. A number of Islam’s founding figures, including the prophet, are accused of homosexuality and child molestation.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration’s condemnation of those who created an anti-Islam YouTube movie that sparked widespread violence in Egypt and Libya. Yet in 2010, Romney himself harshly condemned a highly publicized Quran burning as inflammatory and dangerous.
Pastor Terry Jones planned to burn a Quran as a means of condemning Islam, an act that resulted in the death of 15 people in Kabul during riots. Romney, echoing General David Petraeus, decried Jones’ plan as potentially endangering American lives:
Burning the Quran is wrong on every level. It puts troops in danger, and it violates a founding principle of our republic.
• In 2006, the Bush administration similarly criticized cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed that sparked protests throughout Europe. “Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images,” which are routinely published in the Arab press, “as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief,” said Bush administration State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
• What We Know About the Obscure Film That Sparked The Deadly Riots in Libya: The violence that claimed the life of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three of his American staff members yesterday appears to have been sparked by an obscure, anti-Islam film produced by Sam Bacile, an Israeli-American real-estate developer who says his goal was to draw attention to the hypocrisies of Islam. So, what do we know about Bacile? In short, not much. A man claiming to be Bacile spoke to a number of international news outlets by phone after going into hiding in the wake of the attacks. …What we know the most about, however, is the main promoter of the film, Terry Jones, who is an old hand at garnering media attention.
• Republicans again use 911 to attack the pres. They have been so used to using 911 to fearmonger that they can’t help but go there.
• In a word – panic
• Answer to the Cheney attacks on Obama and the intelligence briefings: National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor told conservative columnist Marc Thiessen that President Obama preferred to read the intelligence briefings. “The President is among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet,” Vietor added to The Daily Caller.
Bits and pieces
• Florida Sheriff Larry Campbell Jokes About Using His Political Opponents As Target Practice: I’ve been in it fifty or more years but I assure you this, I’m not too old to cut the mustard. I’m still out there . . . I got out with my troops. I go out there and do what needs to be done. I told somebody the other day we have police standards that we have to keep up, that we have to keep our pistol proficiency up. And we have to keep our other police professional standards up. And I had invited the other candidates if they don’t think I can do it, go down and let me shoot at you and see if I can do it any good.
Boston Spirit magazine has dug a bit deeper into Mitt Romney’s past interactions with LGBT people, particularly during his time as governor. Many of these stories are known: his firing of two state employees ostensibly for marrying their same-sex partners, his dissolution of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, his blocking of an anti-bullying guide because it contained the words “bisexual” and “transgender,” and his testimony against marriage equality to the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled the state’s ban was unconstitutional. But this new profile illustrates a more profound level of insensitivity to the experience of LGBT people than his past position statements suggest.
David Wilson and Julie Goodridge, two of the plaintiffs whose case led to the legalization of marriage equality in Massachusetts, described meeting with Romney to discuss their experiences. According to Wilson, “it was like talking to a robot. No expression, no feeling.” At one point, Romney remarked, “I didn’t know you had families.” Goodridge recalls her final exchange with the governor, which proved to her that he had “no capacity for empathy”:
GOODRIDGE: Governor Romney, tell me — what would you suggest I say to my 8 year-old daughter about why her mommy and her ma can’t get married because you, the governor of her state, are going to block our marriage?
ROMNEY: I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.
• Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan will begin running ads in the race for his House district in Wisconsin, a potential sign of uneasiness about his re-election, which will probably be interpreted more broadly as a lack of confidence in Mitt Romney’s chances in the Presidential election.
• Barack Obama is tired of your shit. From the audiobook version of Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father. That means the President curses. A lot. In fact you’re about to hear the POTUS swear like a motherfucker.