Mitt Romney’s response to the attacks on US diplomatic sites in Egypt and Libya—which left a US ambassador and other diplomats dead—was one of the more ignorant and irresponsible statements ever issued by a major party presidential nominee in such a circumstance. Early Wednesday, the Romney camp released a statement that read: “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.”
In fact, the Obama administration’s response had been fully in keeping with what the response of a Reagan, Bush, Clinton or Bush administration would have been. “Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior [at the diplomatic sites] as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” declared Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the details of the violence in Benghazi were revealed. “But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
As more information about the killing of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the others in Libya became available, Clinton said, “This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world.”
While embattled US Embassy officials in Cairo had put out a statement (apparently before the killings in Libya) that said “we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions,” there was no expression of sympathy with violence. President Obama said in his statement: “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.”
Yet, even after the administration response in general and Obama’s own response had been made clear to all, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus continued to feature a Tweet on his official Twitter account that read: “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”
Priebus made no effort to apologize, no effort to clarify, no show of even the most minimal sense of duty or responsibility. Political campaigns frequently go to extremes. People say and do things that are inappropriate. But what Priebus has done crosses whatever line of political propriety still exists. He is intentionally creating a false impression with regard to the response of the president of the United States to a violent international incident that could have long-term repercussions.