Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shoot First – Aim Later

Romney’s decisions to criticize the President have earned him well deserved criticism from both his own party and from Americans of all persuasions.
by Charlie Leck

A crisis abroad – far from home – normally brings a common resolve and a united spirit of concern. This is why Mitt Romney’s strong criticism of the President immediately following an attack on our embassy in Libya seemed so discordant. It actually caused nerves to recoil as if fingernails were dragged harshly across an old chalkboard.

We listened to his harsh and angry statement and wondered about it. He accused the President of leaning sympathetically toward the interests of Muslims.

It was the timing of the clearly political attack that made it so cacophonous. The President had his hands full and he was consumed with the sad and dangerous events taking place in the Arab world. He had just lost an ambassador – one of the most highly regarded international experts in the world and a good, good man.

Romney was, of course, gambling; and his foreign policy advisors had been consulted and agreed with the strategy.

It was a dramatic and very big mistake – an error that has brought harsh criticism on the Republican presidential candidate from all sides of the political spectrum.

The President, himself, put the criticism into sharp and poignant focus: “Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later.”

One of George W. Bush’s political strategists said: “It almost feels like Sarah Palin is his foreign policy adviser.”

As the day wore on, Mr. Romney’s political supporters seemed to recognize the damage and began a concerted effort to support and defend the candidate.

Romney’s attack was launched against a statement that came out of the embassy in Cairo. He thought, when he spoke, that it was a statement in response to the attack; however, it was actually an expression of concern made hours before the violence in Benghazi. It is now clear that neither Mr. Romney or his advisors knew, when the speech was made, that J. Christopher Stevens had been killed and he referred only to “an American consulate worker.”

Now the Romney campaign has a real mess to clean up.

America faces dangers in the Middle East such as it has not encountered since World War II. This is no time for bravado and carelessness. This is a time for thoughtful and cautious strategies.

Let it all be a lesson to us about peacemaking and international policies. Each step we take is fraught with so many dangers.

I was livid when I first heard Romney’s statement. The news was still not clear on what had happened but one could sense that it was both awful and dangerous. I screamed at the TV screen as he so smugly spoke. He was, indeed, at that moment, every terrible thing I called him. Now, I am calmed down and I feel some sort of anguished pity for him and his stupidity.

By the way, the NY Times was very clear in its editorial this morning when it called the actions in Libya, “Murder in Benghazi.” How tragic and sad that the murder victim was one of the very best friends of the pro-democracy revolution in the Arab world.

Two asides…
It is not much of a time for humor, but the Toles syndicated cartoon of today is too powerful to ignore. I hope you see it in one of the papers in which it is printed across the nation: God, is sitting back, watching a TV that brings him the day’s reports from his angels. On the screen an angel is speaking: “And now, today’s report on which religion hates others more on your behalf.”
If you missed it, you can go here and enter a request for the September 13, 2012 cartoon.

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