On the evening of September 11, 2012 protests occurred at the American embassies in both Egypt and Libya. By the end of the evening four Americans had been killed at the embassy in Libya, one of whom was J. Christopher Stevens, America’s ambassador to Libya. This tragedy, along with fears that further protests and/or attacks would breakout at other American embassies around the world. Both Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, and our president, Barack Obama, spoke to Americans to ease their concerns and did their jobs to protect other foreign service members at many of our embassies. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for president, stepped up to the microphone to offer his point of view on these tragic events. The main story soon became about Mr. Romney and not about the four Americans who had lost their lives and our other foreign service members who could, potentially, be in danger as well.
|Romney leaving press event September 12, 2012|
Transcript of Romney's press event
ROMNEY: Good morning. Americans woke up this morning with - with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world.
This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous, it's disgusting, it - it breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served during their lives the cause of freedom and justice and honor.
We - we mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.
Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And of course with these words I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones who have left behind, as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation.
And I know that the people across America are grateful for their service. And we mourn their sacrifice.
Me: This was a prepared speech, put together by Mr. Romney’s team of speech writers. The grammar is horrendous. That would be understandable he had been speaking extemporaneously, but it wasn’t. For a speech of this importance this illustrates a lack of an attention to detail and lack of concern for the gravity of this tragedy. Mr. Romney was speaking to people around the world, not just the press corps assembled in Jacksonville, Florida.
ROMNEY: America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion.
Me: I cannot see this opening as anything but a threat followed by a completely ridiculous statement. Tolerate is defined as to allow to be or to be done without prohibition, hindrance, or contradiction. The implication here is that our president was simply ignoring these attacks and failing to respond in any way. By saying “We’ll defend” it appears that Mr. Romney is threatening military action, something he has no power to do. It also speaks to his ease in inciting further attacks around the world. It brings to mind our former president, George W. Bush’s “bring it on” statement when sending our military off to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. A nation’s leader should not consider sending that nation’s men and women into harm’s way capriciously. Personally, I am not looking for a leader with an itchy trigger finger.
For the rest of the sentence “defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion”, that simply makes no sense to me. Yes, our Constitution guarantees those rights to Americans IN AMERICA! The attacks Mr. Romney was talking about occurred on foreign soil and the only right under attack was a right to live. Apparently neither Mr. Romney nor his speech writing staff is aware that once Americans leave America, our Constitution is no longer in effect in a foreign country.
ROMNEY: We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.
Me: And, here we go again. What does this even have to do with the tragic events that occurred in Libya? Is he saying that ALL other countries should enact the American Constitution as the law of their land? Unless all countries of the world adopt our Constitution and its principles, how can those principles be “the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world”? Is Mr. Romney’s ultimate goal to take over the world and rule over The United Nations of the American World? All hail the conquering hero? Or maybe someone with outsized delusions of worldwide power?
ROMNEY: I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values.
Me: At the time the American embassy in Egypt released the statement to which Mr. Romney is referring there had been no attacks. The embassy press person was trying to prevent attacks. Keep in mind that the lives of the people in the embassy were the lives which were on the line. They were attempting to deescalate the situation.
ROMNEY: The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington. That reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.
Me: The White House did not issue or approve the statement. Personally, when faced with an angry mob of protesters, I would take action too – doing my best to calm down the situation. If Mr. Romney had been in that embassy, I wonder just what his reaction would have been? He isn’t notoriously fast on his feet. I doubt his message would have been coherent. It’s evident that even given time and the assistance of professional speech writers, coherence isn’t his strong suit, based upon this speech I’m commenting on.
ROMNEY: The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, American cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don't spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests.
Me: Yes, the world is a dangerous place, not only in Egypt and Libya, but right here at home. Women and children are raped and/or murdered daily. Men with guns walk into movie theaters and churches and kill people. Leadership does not prevent a person or people from going out of control. Mr. Romney’s assessment is simply naïve. Secondly, it’s apparent that Mr. Romney sees that it is America’s responsibility to LEAD THE WORLD. Call me crazy, but I think that the leaders of each nation in the world see it as their own responsibility to lead their country. Individual national sovereignty – is that a foreign concept to you, Mr. Romney.
ROMNEY: Over the last several years, we've stood witness to an Arab spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous, but also poses the potential for peril if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events. We must strive to ensure that the Arab spring does not become an Arab winter. With that, I'm happy to take any questions you may have.
Me: And so it ends. All hail the Patriarch. Yes, WE have stood witness to an Arab Spring. The salient words here – STOOD WITNESS. We watched while tens of thousands of people put their lives on the line, millions fled their countries for safety or faced off against well-armed military forces to fight for a country in which they could have a voice, a choice of how they would be governed. Government, after all, is people and exists for its people. Does any stable government in the world want countries ruled by extremists? I don’t think so. Does ANY country have the RIGHT to control how the people of another country CHOOSE their leaders or that nation’s destiny? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Colonialism has never worked. It has caused more problems, far reaching problems with which we are now dealing (the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and African nations just to name a few). America does not have the right to set up nor overthrow leaders of sovereign nations. Should Mr. Romney become America’s next president I fear, not only for Americans, but for the people of the world. America, if anything, should LEAD BY EXAMPLE, NOT BY FORCE! T.H. White and King Arthur were correct – MIGHT DOES NOT MAKE RIGHT.