The sad state of our public dialogue leads us to praise a member of one party who criticizes another of the same party. It happened today after Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Pres. Obama for a statement released by our Egyptian embassy even before personnel there felt threatened by crowds which later gathered on its grounds.
The statement criticized anti-Muslim sentiment, an apparent reference to the Internet movie posted recently on You Tube which denigrated the Muslim prophet Mohammed.
Romney clearly misspoke when he accused the Obama administration of sympathizing first with terrorists rather than condemning the attack after protesters stormed our Egyptian embassy grounds in Cairo. The statement from the embassy actually was made before the protests began and eventually reflected concern for their own safety.
The first line of the embassy press release sums it up: “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.” Romney’s initial statement was issued hours before the violence in Benghazi, Libya that took four lives.
Many Republicans joined Democrats criticizing Romney for getting involved in an a still developing situation. Some said Romney’s right to criticize the President’s foreign policy was ill-timed and he misjudged the purpose of the statement.
UPDATE, Sept. 13 The latest analysis concludes that the two locations attacked at the Libyan consulate were part of a coordinated effort to coincide with the 11th year anniversary of 9/11.
However the demonstrations in Egypt that spread to Yemen and other countries today appear to be in opposition to an anti-Mohammed film made in the U.S.
Some of the Republicans who cited at least the timing of Romney’s comments included Henry Kissinger, Steve Schmidt, Bill Kristol, Peggy Noonan, and former Ambassador Nicholas Burns, who served presidents of both parties and also served on the National Security Council. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke of the Libyan tragedy without criticizing the President.