Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Important Correction – and – a Word About Bad Political Judgment & Timing

Now it's time to discuss the political ramifications of yesterday's events.  In my post yesterday, I was incorrect in saying that Gov. Romney criticized the President’s initial response to the extremist attacks in Libya and Egypt.  That is not what the Republican/Conservative presidential contender did.  In point of fact, what Romney did was much worse and demonstrated a level of bad political judgment and timing that should give every American “independent” and “undecided” voter serious pause.  It wouldn’t hurt if it gave a few Republican voters pause, too.

What actually happened was this.  The American Embassy in Cairo got wind of possible pending attacks in response to a movie trailer that had appeared on the Internet.  In an effort to avert the attacks, the Embassy issued a statement on its own authority (e.g., without the knowledge or approval of The White House).  This is the statement they issued:

“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. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. 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.”

Right after Romney learned of the attacks and without the full facts about their resulting fatalities – and without waiting to hear to anything directly from The White House – he issued this statement:

“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.  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.”

Needless to say – or, rather, in this political climate, unfortunately necessary to say – this in no way was a reply to the President’s actual response (made later in the day after the facts were in), nor “the Administration’s” response.  This was an uninformed politician’s effort to make premature political hay out of a sensitive, dangerous, international event – thus proving that to Mitt Romney, understanding and speaking about America’s foreign policy really is “a distraction” (as he recently, stupidly said).

Some Republicans (to my surprise) have quickly spoken out against Romney’s untrue and untimely remarks.  Others (hardly to my surprise) are standing firm, parroting the “official” support statement.  As Gail Collins explained in her New York Times column this morning:

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.”).”

Folks, this incident may hurt Mitt Romney’s chances of winning the presidency, but it very well may not – because millions of Americans are still not paying attention and still think all politics and politicians are the same, and what they say or do makes no difference in their own lives or those of others.

I don’t know who or what is most disheartening: Mitt Romney’s clear lack of presidential intelligence, strategy and gravitas, or the American people’s clear lack of active citizenship by watching, analyzing, and engaging in the political process (voting!!!).  I fear that between both of them, we may all be seriously screwed.

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