In times of crisis, one can learn a lot about those who are leading, or wish to lead.
The horrific attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, killing US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three others, as well as the breaches of the US Embassies in Cairo and Yemen, have given us a tragic opportunity for just such a sobre assessment.
To show all due respect to the victims and their families, it is critical to remember that this is not a political event. In other election cycles, such events have been treated accordingly, with both sides taking the high road.
But not this time.
Republicans have seized this troubling event and politicized it for personal gain.
And I fear it shows a dangerous level of desperation and disregard on behalf of Mitt Romney, his campaign, the RNC and the right wing media machine.
A few examples:
- Rush Limbaugh stated on his radio show that such an attack would never have happened under George W Bush, and therefore blamed it on President Obama and his inability to handle foreign policy.
- Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, Tweeted: “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”
- Breitbart headline: NO RECORD OF INTEL BRIEFINGS FOR OBAMA WEEK BEFORE EMBASSY ATTACKS
- Mitt Romney stated that the attacks were a result of President Obama’s failed Middle East policy.
It is that last example that has a meaning worth exploring, for it is the reason why the right wing media is in a frenzy, deflecting and defending.
But first, it is necessary to point out that Mr. Limbaugh has obviously forgotten on who’s watch 9/11 happened and the briefings that were circulating at that time about the plot to fly planes into buildings.
Priebus was reacting to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Cairo, which was apparently acting to diffuse a growing securty threat. (*see below) This sort of information from the embassy was not information intended for consumption by those of us happily at home watching Seinfeld reruns. Mr. Priebus needs to be advised that diplomacy is a very delicate and complicated thing and best left to those holding the actual intel, and to those in place on the ground.
Breitbart seems to think that just because the President is not in his office at a meeting, that he is not getting the intelligence briefings wherever he happens to be. This is stunningly ridiculous and shamefully misleading.
To accuse any President of being negligent in these duties is serious enough. But even the most cynical voter should have a tough time swallowing that a President would knowingly ignore preventable-type actionable intel in an election year. It is simply not plausible.
But facts don’t matter to this group.
What also worries me about that Breitbart story is how it is eerily similar to one filed only one day prior to this attack, based on a report just released by the Government Accountability Institute. (For full disclosure, this “institute” is a new, one-man conservative “organization” set up by Peter Schweizer, who worked for VP Candidate Sarah Palin)
Dick Cheney took the opportunity of the anniversary of 9/11 to use the information contained in that “report” to attack President Obama in a prepared “statement” he released. (It would appear he received an advance copy of the report…)
It all seems a bit too coincidental.
No, I am not inferring they knew this specific attack was coming, but rather, that they all have an organized, concerted game-plan in place.
As written on these pages previously, it is well established that Republicans are worried about the many foreign policy successes attributable to President Obama and his sizable lead in polling on this issue. As a result, they have been trying to find a way to negate it. I wish to point out that readers have commented I had no proof to back up this claim.
I do now.
Witness Mitt Romney mere hours after this attack took place, saying the actions of the President and his administration were “disgusting”. Witness the comments by Mr. Priebus and the setup by Mr. Cheney and Mr. Schweizer. Witness the Netanyahu non-story.
Or how about Mr. Romney’s senior foreign policy advisor Rich Williamson telling The Cable: “the loss of American leadership and prestige throughout the Middle East [is] because of the Obama administration’s failed policies in that region” What failed policies?
Mr. Romney in particular, is displaying a critical flaw in leadership, and a selfishness of purpose that harms him as a statesman. His actions show a complete lack of understanding of the necessary nuances of foreign policy. While one can’t expect a presidential candidate to know everything prior to taking office, we can reasonably expect him to have people around him who can fill in the gaps.
He most obviously does not.
In fact, this is consistent with a concern GOP insiders have regarding his ability to clinch the deal in November and that others have, about him actually handling the job if he does.
The right wing media knows full well this was a huge mistake by Mr. Romney and his campaign. And now, those same right wing media outlets are recoiling swiftly against President Obama with some of the most vitriolic hyperbole heard on the airwaves and seen in print, in years.
The dog has been backed into a corner and is trying to fight its way out.
This group has spent four years misleading their followers about who this President is, what he stands for and what he has accomplished. They have gained traction by doing so. And when facts undermine them, they scream louder and get angrier – just like they are now.
Mr. Limbaugh went as far as to say that the media elite was trying to make this story similar to their “manufactured” gaffe reports from Mr. Romney’s European and Israeli tour. It is very revealing when someone like Limbaugh brings up an event like that again – trying to put it in a new context. Interesting, because it allows us to see what they really do fear, what has hit a little too close to home. And we know that conservatives are constantly trying to rewrite history, with little regard for facts.
And while this plays well to their base, it doesn’t sit very well with independents. This indicates to me that this Republican campaign is giving up on independents and expects this to be a “battle of the bases”.
Diplomats know that the Republican remarks were wrong. Republicans know that Romney’s remarks were wrong.
And they desperately fear you might know it too.
* This is the September 11, 2012 Statement By the US Embassy in Cairo that Republicans find objectionable:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
Do you find this objectionable? I for one, do not. And for the record, there is no “apology” contained in those words either.
Some further proof thanks to Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin on Fox “News”, where they both insinuated that the video linked to unrest in the Middle East perhaps did not exist. I am not making this up.
Hannity:“Yet again today, before taking the time to condemn the ongoing violence or the death of the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, chose instead to rant about a phantom movie that may or may not exist.”
Palin referred to it as “some phantom video in youtube”.
Then Mr. Hannity offered some heavily edited clips of an post election speech in Cairo by President Obama to perpetuate the myth that he was an apologist.
After hearing several intelligent sounding and important foreign policy ideas Fox CUTS OFF the video leaving Mr. Hannity to continue by saying “and then he went on to give the apology for America”.
Really Sean? Why didn’t you play it then?? This is the clip we’ve all been waiting for!!
Wait, I know – because he never did apologize for anything and this is myth and an outright lie.
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