Diplomat Death Turns Political
Protesters in Libya and Egypt stormed American embassies and consulates yesterday, killing at least four in Benghazi. But a rare situation that would traditionally evoke national unity has already become part of the partisan back-and-forth.
Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by rioters along with several consulate staffers, making him the first American ambassador to die violently on the job since Afghanistan in 1979. The riots were reportedly ignited in response to an amateur video mocking the prophet Muhammed, created by a businessman in California and promoted by Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones.
Before Stevens’ death had been confirmed, and violating a temporary pause in campaigning to honor 9/11, Mitt Romney issued a harsh statement condemning the President Barack Obama:
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. 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.”
But the Obama Administration made no such statement of “sympathy.” Embassy workers in Cairo, facing similar violent unrest, issued this statement, unapproved by the State Department or White House:
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.
The comments are clearly directed at Jones and the amateur video, but even so, go nowhere near an apology.
The president has denounced the killings entirely; but Romney’s gaffe has now become a major talking point against him.
Wow, almost eleven years to the day after our nation came together to deal with tragedy… and now we have this crap.