‘Libya Surprise’Could Be a Death Knell for Romney
Romney’s attempt to exploit the violent anti-U.S. demonstrations in Egypt and Libya to portray Obama as soft on America’s enemies backfired almost immediately, when it became clear the statement from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo he had cited was issued before the demonstrations began. Overnight, the tragic news came that Chris Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and three other U.S. officials were killed while trying to flee the besieged U.S. consulate in Benghazi. But still the Mittster didn’t quit seeking to gain political advantage. Speaking in Florida this morning, he repeated the charge that the Obama Administration was failing to stand up for things Americans hold dear, such as freedom of speech. The White House was “standing in apology for our values” and following a “terrible course,” Romney said.
The reaction to Romney’s desperate gambit has been almost universally negative. About the only people who are sticking up for him today are Jim DeMint, the Tea Party senator from South Carolina, and Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard. Even Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, failed to echo his line of attack. Speaking in Wisconsin, Ryan described the killings in Libya as “pretty disturbing,” but he didn’t criticize Obama, and he said it was “a time for healing.”
There will be plenty of time to discuss the rights and wrongs. But before getting into all that, I thought it might be worth setting down how the past twenty-four hours unfolded. With events taking place in three countries, on two continents, there has been a lot of confusion about who said what when. Here’s a quick timeline I put together from the Web. As far as I can see, Romney doesn’t come out of it looking any better. But it does indicate that his attacks initially caused some concern in the White House—enough concern for the Administration to try and distance itself from its loyal servants in Cairo.