Romney's Libyan gamble

 

Romney: Administration was 'wrong' to stand by statement

A sombre President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton by his side, appeared in the Rose Garden to condemn what he called the outrageous and shocking attacks which killed the US ambassador to Libya and three others.

He paid tribute to the "extraordinary Americans" who were killed and said the US "rejects all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification for this sort of senseless violence. Nothing."

It was inevitable that these attacks, in Libya and Egypt, have become political in an election year.

In a way they go to the heart of the practice and theory of the Obama foreign policy. They also raise immediate questions about why there wasn't more protection for the embassies, particularly on the anniversary of 9/11.

But the Republican candidate Mitt Romney has seriously raised the stakes by an immediate, very strong, attack on the president's administration.

'Political football'

The president has the huge advantage that when politics is in play he can try to rise above it simply by appearing presidential.

The secretary of state appeared pretty presidential too, with a very strong statement, a short while before, melding a tribute to the ambassador, condemnation of the attack and an assertion of American greatness.

US President Barack Obama: "There is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence"

Mitt Romney is a candidate and didn't have the protection of great office to protect him.

He'd made the attack on the Egyptian embassy a part of his election campaign before the Libyan attack happened.

It is central to his case against the president that he has repeatedly apologised for America and that he is too soft on its enemies.

He seized on a statement issued by the US embassy in Cairo, which condemned "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions".

Mr Romney called this "disgraceful".

The White House said it had not authorised the embassy statement but this morning at a news conference, before the president spoke, Mr Romney stepped up his attack.

He said that Mr Obama bore responsibility for statements by his embassies and this one was "akin to an apology" adding it was a "terrible course to apologise for American values" and the White House was sending mixed signals.

He's taking a big risk using these tragic attacks to further this political argument, and some are already outraged.

The former ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk of Brookings, told CNN that it was a shame the tragedy was being used as a political football and that it was not appropriate.

There's no doubt that what happened in Cairo and Libya raises questions about President Obama's foreign policy.

What opponents see as a rejection of American exceptionalism and willingness to apologise for his country, supporters portray as an ability to foster alliances with a lower profile on the world stage and greater sensitivity to other cultures, Islam in particular.

Some will question whether that approach has paid off. The president's sporadic support for the Arab Spring saw its only military expression in Libya where these killings took place. Those who warned that America's enemies might have gain power when the dictators fell, will use this to suggest they were correct.

These are serious questions. But Mitt Romney has put a lot of weight on one press release and may find himself spending rather more time defending his own tactics than attacking the president's strategy.

 
Mark Mardell, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 225.

    "our values"..???
    What values are these then eh Mitt?..would he allow a an abortionist to give a lecture in his church or others? Would he allow a racist to drive past non-white neighbourhoods shouting abuse and hatred, would he allow minorities to dictate to the majority what their children shall be taught..all because of the "values" he thinks are common and consistent in the US??!!

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 224.

    It's cruel irony that those who voluntarily surrender the comfort and familiarity of home in order to broaden horizons and promote understanding and tolerance are the ones that suffer the consequences of ignorance and bigotry by those whose actions are taken from the "safety" of their caves.

    As for Mr. Romney - Obama needs only let thy enemy continue to destroy himself.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 223.

    214. Alan

    I am disgusted that Romney chose to politicise this unfortunate event.

    ***
    Obama gave a statement today at the White House but took no questions. He then flew off to Las Vegas to fund raise. There he gave Telemundo an interview.

    Could we also expect a little less campaigning from Obama given these events?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 222.

    Killing innocent officials is unwanted and unjustifiable. The purpose of the Israeli-American film maker is one more act of offensive provocative act to ignite the feelings of Muslims. Analyzing the causes is a waste of time, the fact is provocative acts, such as cartoons, burning the Quran, lies about the Prophet, mowing down 44 Muslims performing Friday prayers are preplanned acts !

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 221.

    9.11.1857 a similar premeditated plan to kill and blame the incident to others. Mountain Meadows Massacre. Romney's great elders shot all Men. The women and children were ambushed and killed by more militia that were hiding in nearby bushes and ravines. They then make it look like the native Indians did the killing. What happen in Libya 9.11.2012 is eerily similar to 9.11.1857. Fire and aim later

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 220.

    "One Republican official advising Romney's campaign on foreign policy and national security issues painted a picture of a Romney campaign more focused on ensuring Romney's evening statement made it into morning news stories than on waiting for details about what had happened." Dateline: Washington (AP) Kasie Hunt

    One of the key Presidental powers is the authority to conduct foreign policy.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 219.

    216. sayasay

    Your minimalisation of the office of POTUS ends 2012.

    **
    He's not interested in minimizing his own powers, just those of the US abroad.

    A US president should at a minimum like his country the way it is and not just in a less powerful state.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 218.

    One hundred and fifty years ago devisive rhetoric paved the path to our bloody and brutal national tragedy. Did reckless and hasty words open the doors to reasonable solutions? Or slaughter?

    Can anyone think of another time, since the War of Secession, this country has been so divided?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 217.

    While there are some legitimate reasons to criticize Obama's record, I have come to tune out just about everything that Republicans say about him. NOTHING he does is anything but pure evil to them by virtue of his being Obama. They seem to ALWAYS willfully cast him in the worst possible light, and 95% of their vitriol is simply factually incorrect. This renders their legitimate critiques inert.

  • rate this
    -12

    Comment number 216.

    “Romney… didn’t have the protection of great office”

    I am with you, Mitt. Like you I don’t have the resources of the C-in-C of the most powerful arsenal in the world. But we can opine anyways when a Pres with vast resources can’t get his act in order.

    Go, Obama, do go away.
    Your minimalisation of the office of POTUS ends 2012.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 215.

    209. Peter_Cottontail

    @204

    you seem to horrify quite easily.

    ***
    I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that the events in Libya were not horrifying. Have you seen the pictures and read the latest reports of the attack?

    Don't make light of these events. They were very bad.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 214.

    I am disgusted that Romney chose to politicise this unfortunate event.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 213.

    206Peter_Cottontail
    "The American Christians and Catholic Church still do not recognize Mormons as Christians."
    I thought Catholics were Christians? Maybe not.

    At any rate, let's have a rendition of an old-timey tune, American tune, "You can tell we are Christians by our love."

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 212.

    Rmoney's statement is based upon a factual error that he chose to make. In doing so, he immediately raises a legitimate question of whether he is prepared to represent the US in foreign policy issues, and this new doubt comes after his failures during visits to the UK, Israel, and Poland. His continual references to Russia as a great evil have only served to make Putin more substantial.

  • rate this
    -9

    Comment number 211.

    mr obama had the opportunity in his press conference to assert his policies on international affairs he failed once again
    his weak message may i feel be pivotal in the forthcoming election and will cost him a second term

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 210.

    205. publius

    Perhaps Candidate Romney will learn the vurtues of patience?

    ***
    We seem to have presidential candidates who are learning as they go.

    Instant, constant communications make the job much more difficult than when a statement was edited and released the next day.

    Now Obama is criticized for going to bed without knowing whether ambassador was even alive. Were they in his bedroom??

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 209.

    @204

    you seem to horrify quite easily.

    histrionic personality disorder?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 208.

    I don't know if lying about events and ghoulishly trying to turn an ambassador's death to personal political gain was a failure of the candidate's or of his advisors, but it doesn't speak well of what we could expect from either a Romney State Department or a Romney White House.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 207.

    he has taken some of the attention off the tragedy and put it squarely on him and his race against Obama. While the base might love every opportunity to pile on to the President, to independents it looks like a divisive and self serving stunt. Not sure how he benefits here even if he has a point he missed an opportunity to look presidential in the midst of a crisis.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 206.

    The American Christians and Catholic Church still do not recognize Mormons as Christians. They state that LDS is a cult.
    Is a non christian cult member more acceptable as POTUS than a black man? Is America still that racist? Was Jimmy Carter right?

 

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