Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Romney continues sinking into Libyan morass....

In one sense, this is getting painful to watch. In another sense, I'm happy to see the Romney campaign continue to sink into their own incompetence. Yes, it is another story about the Libyan terrorist attacks, and Mitt Romney's flailing attempts to capitalize on them. Let's go to Talking Points Memo:
The Romney campaign continues to defend its increasingly isolated response to the Libya consulate attack, claiming that the White House implicitly acknowledged its criticism was accurate by disavowing an earlier statement from the U.S. embassy in Egypt.
“If Gov. Romney ‘jumped the gun’ why were White House officials also distancing themselves from the statement?” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. “Why didn’t President Obama take any questions from the press this morning to explain?”

Saul was referring to a statement released Tuesday by the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which said that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” The White House later disavowed that press release and subsequent tweets from the embassy’s Twitter account that referred to it were deleted.

Here’s the problem: The fallout over Romney’s reaction has much less to do with the content of the initial embassy statement and a lot more to do with the timing of what unfolded Tuesday night. The embassy’s condemnation of an anti-Muslim film was issued before the compound in Egypt was breached and before an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya killed four people, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. That order of events directly undercuts Romney’s statement Tuesday night 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.”

Romney tried to get around this blatant contradiction Wednesday by saying he was referring to tweets by the embassy affirmed their initial statement after the Egypt protest got out of hand (but well before the Libya murders). But even those tweets actually included a condemnation of the embassy breach as well. Either way, it takes a pretty massive leap to get from ambiguous tweets by besieged social media outreach staff member at an embassy in Egypt to claiming the White House itself reacted to the death of Americans in Libya by expressing sympathy for militants.

In fact, the first reactions from the State Department and White House were strong condemnations.

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” said a statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued Tuesday evening. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”

That reaction did not satisfy Romney, either: He said the administration’s decision to break from the embassy’s statement and take a harsher tone constituted “mixed signals.”

Romney could still be upset that the US condemned an anti-Muslim film promoted by Florida pastor Terry Jones. And indeed, many critics have bristled at the idea that America should have to account for an individual citizen’s speech abroad.

But according to talking points from the Romney campaign obtained by CNN, Romney’s surrogates have been instructed to condemn Jones using language nearly identical to Clinton’s:
- Governor Romney rejects the reported message of the movie. There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance. - But we will not apologize for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.
- Storming U.S. missions and committing acts of violence is never acceptable, no matter the reason. Any response that does not immediately and decisively make that clear conveys weakness.
- If pressed: Governor Romney repudiated this individual in 2010 when he attempted to mobilize a Quran-burning movement. He is firmly against any expression of religious hatred or intolerance.
The Romney campaign’s latest attempt to clean up their Tuesday attack ignores the reasons it generated so much backlash to begin with, without providing any new explanation as to why it attacked the White House so quickly and fiercely before all of the facts surrounding the attacks were clear.
What I find so very interesting is not the simple fact that the Romney campaign screwed up with the actual timeline of events, when they initiated this attack against the Obama administration.  Instead we have a campaign that now, in the face of overwhelming evidence which shows the Romney campaign to be completely wrong in conducting their baseless attacks, that the campaign continues presenting these discredited talking points--even as they are repeatedly told how wrong they are. My impression is that the Romney campaign has passed a point of no return in what could be an eventual loss of the presidency for Romney.  If the campaign admits that they were mistaken in their attack against President Obama, then Mitt Romney can kiss his Oval Office dreams goodbye.  This was the big, foreign policy crisis for the campaign to show the American people how a business leader could handle such a crisis better than President Obama.  Instead, Mitt Romney stepped into it big time.  If Romney admitted to stepping into it big time, then why would the American public want to select him, over Obama--who has already demonstrated his own foreign policy skills.  And I'm not talking about this crisis--remember Osama bin Laden? He's rotting away with the fishies. 

So the Romney campaign really has no choice, but to continue to defend their response to the Libyan attacks.  They could try to ignore the issue, however I'm guessing the media and blogs will continue raising questions regarding the campaign's response and why?  The Romney campaign could try to deflect the issue, but that may cause a campaign spokesperson to misquote, or misinterpret a campaign talking point, resulting in more questions of why are they spinning and contradicting themselves again and again?  Neither ignoring, nor deflecting the issue will help the Romney campaign, as it could seed even more doubts among independent and swing voters.  So the only choice is to triple down, and continue to defend their talking points, even though everyone is now realizing that the Romney campaign is blatantly lying.  The more they defend their position, the more the Romney campaign continues to lie, and the more Mitt Romney appears weak, and incompetent in running for the White House.  In the end, Mitt Romney is sinking deeper in a morass of his own incompetence.  Will it be enough to sink his presidential campaign in November?

And as for President Obama not taking questions from the press to explain the issue?  It is obvious that the press were going to ask Obama questions about Romney's statement, saying Obama "sympathized" with the terrorists?  The last thing Obama wanted to do was get into a political pissing match with Romney as the crisis was unfolding throughout the morning.  By not talking to the press, Obama's statement on the crisis looks "presidential" for the evening news.

No comments: