The last 24 hours have been rather hectic in the Middle East, and I, sadly, have had scant time to check out the news in other than a cursory manner. Here's what's happened so far:
Yesterday, US embassies in Egypt and Libya were attacked by mobs, apparently responding to an inflammatory, anti-Muslim video produced by some fringe amateur filmmaker. How sleazy is the video? Well, I haven't seen it, but it received a seal of approval from Terry Jones--organizer of International Burn a Koran Day (which I'm sad to say falls on a Saturday this year, so no day off!). Apparently, a large portion of the Islamic world has yet to realize that just because a mentally defective racist American happens to say something, this does not reflect the official position of the American government or the vast majority of Americans. At any rate, these protests turned particularly violent in Libya, where four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.
It goes without saying--or it should--that no one in his right mind--American, Libyan, Egyptian; Democrat, Republican, or Independent--condones these actions. The Libyan government condemned the attacks, as did any number of decent people the world over. As for the domestic US reaction, the consensus could be summed up as anger at the perpetrators, sympathy for the victims, and resolve not to be cowed by international terrorists. Despite their well-publicized differences, political figures both Democratic--President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator John Kerry--and Republican--Speaker of the House John Boehner, Senator Mitch McConnell--issued sensible, sensitive responses to the horrific events. Politics, as it has been often said, stop at the water's edge.
But someone forgot to tell Mitt Romney. Rather than taking the opportunity to appear statesmanlike, Romney wasted no time in politicizing the incident, spewing partisan misinformation to an anxious nation.
A bit of background: Before--let me emphasize, BEFORE--the attacks on the embassies, an embassy employee, in an apparent attempt to soothe the feelings of Muslims over the offensive video--issued a statement essentially affirming the United States' commitment to religious freedom and its fundamental respect for members of all faiths. This relatively benign statement--again, made BEFORE the attacks--was seized upon by Mitt Romney as some kind of "apology" offered up by President Obama to the very people who killed his Ambassador. The fact that it was not an apology nor was the statement made by the President or any member of his Cabinet only adds to the inanity of Romney's statement.
Andrew Sullivan has done a thorough job of destroying Mitt Romney for this egregious act of tactlessness. I would just like to emphasize the utter cluelessness this betrays. Because who's Romney trying to impress? Anyone who would conceivably believe these blatant misrepresentations is already firmly in the "Vote Romney" column. Anyone else--anyone undecided--must surely listen to this repulsive act of blatant politicization and shake his head over the depths to which an intelligent, historically moderate representative of the American elite has allowed himself to sink.