Commentary: Romney’s pathetic attempt to exploit deaths of U.S. embassy staff for political gain

There he goes again.

In yet another spectacular display of his tone-deafness, Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney tried to exploit the deaths of 4 Americans in Libya and the breach of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for his political gain. 


Yesterday, Romney wasted no time seizing the opportunity to attack President Barack Obama for the Cairo Embassy’s efforts to defuse the angry religious protests before the compound was breached by violent demonstrators.

“It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Romney said in a curt written statement.

Romney’s statement was issued on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, shortly after news broke that the American consulates in Cairo and Benghazi were under attack and one American diplomat was confirmed dead in Benghazi.

Though Romney did express his “outrage”, at no point in his 50-word statement did he express any sympathy, condolence, or concern for the American Embassy staff who were besieged, injured, or killed in the violence in Egypt and Libya. The glaring omission – particularly in light of his failure to even acknowledge U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan during his RNC acceptance speech – once again revealed Romney’s lack of basic empathy and care for people who don’t serve his political purposes.

This morning, the State Department confirmed that four Americans – including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens – were killed by armed protesters while trying to evacuate the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Despite Romney’s false accusation, both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have strongly condemned the violence but have chosen to focus their immediate attention on ensuring the safety of Americans in Egypt and Libya and increasing the security of U.S. diplomatic posts overseas.

Read more: U.S. Ambassador & 3 Americans killed in Libya attack 

Romney’s initial attack was directed at messages issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo urging “respect for religious beliefs” in an effort to defuse angry protests against an American-made film that purportedly ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

“Today, the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Americans honor our patriots as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy – Sept. 11, 2012,” tweeted the U.S. Embassy in Cairo (@USEmbassyCairo). “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy.”

Eleven hours later, the Cairo Embassy confirmed that protestors breached the compound and took down the American flag.

On Wednesday, the Cairo Embassy tweeted the following messages:

“1) Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.”

“2) Of course we condemn breaches of our compound, we’re the ones actually living through this.”

“3) Sorry, but neither breaches of our compound or angry messages will dissuade us from defending freedom of speech AND criticizing bigotry.”

Unfazed and undeterred by the swift backlash against his non-sensical, highly inappropriate political attack, Romney issued a follow-up statement this morning, criticizing the White House for lack of “leadership” and for supposedly sending “mixed signals”.

“It’s never too early for the United States Government to condemn attacks on Americans,” Romney argued.

This pathetic episode revealed at least four character flaws that make Romney singularly ill-suited for diplomacy – a key leadership skill that every head of state and military commander-in-chief must exercise judiciously every single day:

1. Lack of awareness (as demonstrated by his frequent tone-deaf responses) to successfully navigate delicate and treacherous situations;

2. Lack of empathy for others, including fellow Americans who would serve under his command if elected President;

3. Extreme arrogance and an obstinate unwillingness to accept responsibility when he is blatantly wrong or caught in a lie;

4. And a willingness to double down on the wrong path when he’s under pressure.

As Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry summed up last week, “Mitt Romney: out of touch at home, out of his depth abroad.” 


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