Last night, while the fate of Ambassador Stevens was still unknown, and at a point where neither Obama nor anyone else within 5,000 miles of him had commented on a still-active, evolving, life-or-death situation in Benghazi, Mitt Romney released a statement saying:
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.Looking at the NBC News timeline, it's clear that, on multiple levels, Romney had no idea what he was talking about and was instead talking out his ass in the midst of an international crisis.
The claim that the administration's first response was to sympathize with the attackers is apparently based on a statement released by the Cairo embassy Tuesday morning, about six hours before the Cairo embassy was breached. The statement read:
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.Now, we can argue over whether the statement by the embassy was justified (tomorrow's topic!), but the statement which might be construed as sympathizing with the Egyptians or Libyans. which got Romney so fired up he had to release his statement on 9/11, preceded the attacks, which makes it pretty tough to classify it as the administration's "first response" to the attacks. Obama/Washington had nothing to say until after Romney's statement was e-mailed, so let's accept Romney's premise that workers in a surrounded embassy in Egypt know the President's thoughts on everything. What was the embassy's first communication after the attack? A tweet that read "2) Of course we condemn breaches of our compound, we're the ones actually living through this.". So in fact the first response of the Obama administration, literally, was to condemn the attack in Egypt, and it was before the attack in Libya even happened.
Good job, Mitt.
Then there's the little matter of Romney's statement, the entirety of which is above, makes no mention of condolences for the family of the (as far as he knew at the time) one American who had been killed. A matter of decorum and not strictly important, to be sure, but still.
Romney also implies the statements of the Cairo embassy were in response to the Libyan attacks, which means he thinks the Americans at the consulate in Libya was in communication with Cairo discussing administration policy, instead of literally running for their lives.
It would be one thing if Romney were making tough, critical statements when he had all the facts in hand. But he was demonstrably wrong in several ways in just two sentences. He didn't let that, or that it was still 9/11, which the campaigns had observed with a temporary cease-fire, stop him from firing off a strictly political statement about an ongoing crisis. Perhaps he wanted get the statement out in time for the late local news. Whatever his motivation, I can't fathom being so factually wrong about such a serious issue, and being so sure of yourself that you'd send out such a statement two hours before the 9/11 truce ends.
EDIT: After posting, found this gem from Romney in 2010: “Burning the Quran is wrong on every level. It puts troops in danger, and it violates a founding principle of our republic.
So, uh, what is he even criticizing the embassy's statement for, exactly?