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Mitt Romney's Comment says a lot
When Mitt Romney criticized the statement released by the United States Embassy in Cairo, he probably hoped that he would sound strong and forceful in his support of the United States. He didn't. He sounded like a man with no plan, who had just made a big mistake in delving into matters of foreign policy. For one thing, when a candidate for the Presidency wades into an issue of international implications, it might help that candidate to get his facts straight. He might also want to make sure that people actually agree with what he has just said. And he should make his remarks as un-divisive as possible.
Romney did none of those things. Instead, when he smelled blood, Romney leaped forward to reap a huge political profit by portraying the Obama Administration as having sided with the attackers. If only that had actually happened. Here is what Romney had to say about the statement issued by the U.S Embassy in Cairo; "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."
The facts are a little messier than Romney would have liked. The statement issued by the U.S Embassy in Cairo was released hours before the attacks that killed four Americans, including an ambassador, Chris Stevens, in Benghazi. Nor is there any evidence that anyone within the Obama Administration had actually "sympathized" with the attackers. Romney dug himself into his new hole even further when, the very next day, he doubled down on the hard line stance he had already taken.
Romney's next mistake was to assume that fellow Republicans would back him up. John McCain, who has had serious disagreements with Obama's handling of foreign policy before, issued a statement that failed to mention Romney or Obama, but had plenty of praise for Hillary Clinton's statement, saying that it had "the right message and the right tone." Then things got worse when Tom Ridge, who once served as secretary of Homeland Security under the Bush Administration, said "I don't think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us," in an interview. One Republican called the statement "Romney's Lehman moment."
Romney might have taken a hint that his remarks were unpopular even within his own party. Instead of backing down, Romney just went on digging his political grave.
But the real problem here is Romney's apparent intent; to use a tragedy overseas for political gain. Four Americans have been killed, on September 11th of all days. Americans have historically come together when fellow citizens are attacked or killed. When others attack us unjustly, we Americans stick together. At a moment when we should all be expressing support for the families of the four men who died, Romney comes along and levels baseless accusations against the President. Romney did himself no good with his remarks. He had a chance to prove that he was a leader who could unite us in troubled times. Now he looks more like a politician.