Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney leaves the podium after he makes comments on the killing of US embassy officials in Benghazi, Libya, while speaking in Jacksonville, Florida, Wednesday, September 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
The idea of Mitt Romney in the White House is a scary, scary thought after his bungling of the Libya crisis, and the Stormin’ Mormon just keeps making it scarier—including putting out Liz Cheney as spokeswoman for his anti-Muslim bigotry. The question I’d like to hear reporters ask Mitt, if they ever get a chance to get within 100 yards of him, is: “OK. You’ve condemned the extremists who killed the ambassador. You blasted the State Department for its statement urging respect for all religions, including Islam. Now, will you criticize the extremists who made the film that sparked the crisis?” So far, not a word from Romney about radical right Christian anti-Muslim bigots, including: Florida’s Terry Jones, the nutball, Koran-burning preacher who promoted the film; various extremist, Egyptian Copts; Steve Klein of California; and the mystery man who supposedly made the film.
General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, even placed a call to Jones to try to shut him up. Two years ago, then–Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had to call him, too. I worry that if Romney called Jones, he’d egg him on.
The Lede Blog at the New York Times has a wonderful summary of the crackpots behind the YouTube video that triggered the crisis, including a pretty good rundown of the odd cast of characters behind it, and Adam Nagourney in the Times writes about Steve Klein. It’s easy to poke fun at the crazies who made the film, even while expressing horror at the damage it’s touched off: attacks on US embassies in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia, so far. But the real issue, still, is Romney.
To recap: after the Libya attack, which killed four American diplomats, Romney found himself compelled to attack President Obama for supposedly expressing sympathy for the terrorists. His 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.
Outside of the Wall Street Journal, which is cheering Romney on, editorial writers have ridiculed Romney for his foreign policy gaffe. The Washington Post says of the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens: “That it instead provoked a series of crude political attacks on President Obama by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is a discredit to his campaign.” And it adds:
At a news conference, Mr. Romney claimed that the administration had delivered “an apology for America’s values.” In fact, it had done no such thing: Religious tolerance, as much as freedom of speech, is a core American value. The movie that provoked the protests, which mocks the prophet Muhammad and portrays Muslims as immoral and violent, is a despicable piece of bigotry; it was striking that Mr. Romney had nothing to say about such hatred directed at a major religious faith.