Commentary on current events, politics, government, and popular culture from John Sheirer, author of the book, Make Common Sense Common Again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Romney Fails Commander-in-Chief Test Yet Again in Last Night's Debate

Moderator Candy Crowley fact-checked just one of Mitt Romney's many distortions during last night's debate when she correctly affirmed that President had indeed called the recent Libyan consulate attack an "act of terror" during a Rose Garden speech the next day (which was well before Romney himself used and derivative of the term "terror" to describe the attack). When Romney questioned Obama's honesty, saying he wanted to get the president's comment "for the record," Obama, fed up with years of Romney's lies, responded, "Get the transcript." Crowley somewhat reluctantly set Romney straight, saying, "He did call it an act of terror."

Some Romney supporters are attacking Crowley today for unfairly showing a "liberal bias." Some even say that she helped Obama win the debate. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Obama won the debate by passionately defending his many accomplishments and not letting Romney get away with his multiple lies. Crowley was fair and truthful, and Romney lost the debate all on his own, thanks in no small part to his dishonest failure on the Libya issue.

The reality is that Romney's lie about the president's reaction to the Libya attack was so blatant, with Romney himself calling so much attention to it at that moment, that Crowley had no choice but to state a clear fact. Romney was in the middle of losing the debate, and he obviously thought he had caught the president in a "gotcha" moment that would make a sparkling sound-bite to distract from his overall debate loss. But Romney simply revealed more of his dishonesty, arrogance, and ignorance. Crowley may have actually done him the favor of not letting him dig his hole any deeper.

For more than a month, Romney has twisted the facts on the Libya tragedy in a quest for cheap political points. Instead of trying to unite the country in a crisis, Romney has done everything in his power to use the Libya attack to divide the nation. On the day of the attack, before even the basic details of the events were known, Romney falsely claimed that Obama's first response was to "sympathize with those who waged the attacks." Both the rapid nature and inaccurate content of Romney's attacks were unprecedented for a presidential candidate, and he was widely criticized by members of both parties for his rash and ignorant response.

Romney hasn't waited judiciously as the facts about these complex events continue to gradually unfold. Instead, he charged in blindly and took every opportunity to criticize the president without having full knowledge of what really happened. Such rashness is not a good quality for someone who aspires to be the leader of the free world. And Romney has offered very little constructive criticism, choosing instead to simply attack.

Worst of all, Romney so shamelessly used these American deaths that the father of slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens called politicizing the events " abhorrent." The mother of former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, killed in the Libya attack, was more specific in her criticism of how Romney was using her family tragedy for his own gain: "I don't trust Romney. He shouldn't make my son's death part of his political agenda. It's wrong to use these brave young men, who wanted freedom for all, to degrade Obama.”

Romney is fond of invoking former president Ronald Reagan, but Romney's response to the Libya attacks has been far different from Reagan's response to the 1980 Iran hostage crisis during Jimmy Carter's presidency. In contrast to Romney's injudicious attacks on Obama, Reagan called for national unity when he was a candidate for president running to unseat Carter. Reagan criticized Carter's foreign policy in general during the campaign, but he didn't attack Carter on the hostage crisis--even when the issue came up during their presidential debate. Romney had a similar opportunity to call for national unity during a time of crisis, but he chose to attack and divide America instead.

The third presidential debate next week will focus on foreign affairs, but Romney has already exposed himself as unqualified to lead our country in the world. Romney seems to think that organizing the Olympics and outsourcing American jobs to China makes him qualified on foreign policy issues. Even before his Libya missteps, Romney's embarrassing European tour showed that he is a terrible representative of our nation as he displayed profound ignorance of world affairs and the arrogance to offend even our closest allies.

Romney's incompetence and divergence from mainstream American views on foreign policy has been on display throughout the presidential campaign. He was against President Obama's decision to end the war in Iraq, and he has postured for going to war in Iran. He has largely ignored the war in Afghanistan (including not even mentioning it in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention). When he does actually mention it, he gives contradictory statements about how he would handle that war, an inconsistency amplified by his running mate Paul Ryan's naïve and confusing answers to questions about Afghanistan in the vice presidential debate last week.

Today many Romney supporters are blaming Candy Crowley for Romney's colossal "gotcha" debate failure. The party that loves to talk about "personal responsibility" is trying to shift responsibility from Romney to Crowley, and they look just as pathetic as Romney did at that moment in the debate.

Last night Romney punctuated what has been a full campaign of ample evidence that he would be even worse than George W. Bush in foreign affairs. Romney has been an abject failure each time he has weighed in on situations he might face as Commander in Chief. No amount of Republican spin can cover that fact.

President Obama perfectly summed up Romney's response to the Libyan attacks last night with just one word: "offensive." He's absolutely right, and Mitt Romney is absolutely wrong for the presidency.


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