[NOTE: You probably know all this by now, but I wrote my response early on Wednesday and was away from home the rest of the day. There may have been developments throughout the day that make this obsolete. I'll update today if necessary.]
The period of 9/11 mourning had not yet ended Tuesday evening and no one yet knew the terrible extent of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and our embassy in Cairo before Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, issued this denunciation of the Obama administration that included an accusation that the president supports the north African militants:
“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,” he said.
That so-called presidential sympathy was a reference to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo condemning an America-made film denouncing Islam. But the embarrassment (for Romney) is that the embassy issued the statement before the attacks “in an effort to head off the violence - not after the attacks, as Mr. Romney’s statement implies," according to The New York Times.
But worse than mere embarrassment is that Romney issued this crude and cynical political criticism of the president during an ongoing assault on American property abroad when no one yet knew nature of the violence, who, if anyone, had been killed and whose lives might still be at risk.
The irresponsibility of such a statement in the middle of an assault against Americans far away is breathtakingly obscene.
It doesn't take a Stanford or Harvard education to know that you don't go off half-cocked throwing around accusations that will be blasted around the world before you have any idea what's happened and what is at stake for our citizens there or our country in general.
Even so, in the light of Wednesday morning when we knew that the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans had been killed, Romney doubled down on his political attack against Obama in a Jacksonville news conference:
"'It's their administration. Their administration spoke,' Romney said. "The president takes responsibility not just for the words that came from his mouth, but the words that come from his ambassadors, his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department.
“'They clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the administration, and the embassy is the administration and the statement that came from the administration is a statement that is akin to an apology and I think is a severe miscalculation.'"
Any presidential candidate – hell, any grownup - should know how (to borrow a term from Romney himself) severely stupid and dangerous it is to butt into an ongoing international emergency. Mitt Romney obviously does not.
There are many reasons to not vote for Mitt Romney and we at this blog have discussed the ones that most affect elders – that he wants to kill Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the Affordable Care Act while lowering taxes on corporations and the one percent.
Protecting these programs is important to the future of the country, to our children, grandchildren and beyond. I don't not dismiss those reasons to oppose Romney.
But now he has inserted himself into the administration's foreign policy in a violent and volatile part of the world that must necessarily be handled with one American voice and that can only the president's.
It becomes more clear day by day that Mr. Romney is not a serious person and in this case, he seems to be not rational; two U.S. missions attacked on the anniversary of 9/11, four Americans tragically dead and he believes an embassy press release somehow impugns Obama's patriotism.
It is bizarre behavior that calls into question Romney's judgment, character and responsibility. This episode should convince even diehard Republicans that this man is unfit to be president.
There are no stories at The Elder Storytelling Place today. Publication will resume on Monday 17 September.