Breaking its moratorium on campaign communications before the end of the 9/11 anniversary, the Romney campaign excoriated the Obama Administration for a press release that attempted to diffuse Muslim anger over a video that insulted the Prophet Muhammad. The Romney missive criticized the release for not condemning the violence that resulted in the deaths of four Americans including the Libyan Ambassador. The Romney campaign either did not realize or simply ignored the fact that the Obama Administration’s not only did not issue the press release, but also that the release was issued by the American embassy itself BEFORE the violence occurred.
Yesterday, Vladimir Putin indicated that Romney’s characterization of Russia as America’s “number one geopolitical foe” confirmed that Russia should be concerned about NATO plans to place radar and missile interceptor in European locations and that their negotiation position is strengthened.
Continuing US restraint in drawing a “red line” on Iranian nuclear development has prompted escalating rhetoric from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who clearly sees Romney’s hamhanded attempts to attract the American Jewish vote as an opportunity to press Israel’s interest in American support for the use of military force against Iran.
Until recently, the nescience, the fecklessness, the pettiness and the mendacity of Romeny campaign messaging has been limited primarily to domestic matters, as he has tried to make this election about an economy that members of Romney’s party – including his running mate – had a significant role in keeping sluggish. He didn’t view the war in Afghanistan, the troops fighting over there and their families here at home as important enough to mention during that fiasco of a republican convention. In spite of the importance of foreign policy in the life of every presidential administration, the Romney campaign has protested any attention on it as yet another “shiny object” diverting attention away from what the candidate wants to discuss. But the actions of the campaign are wholly inconsistent with its protestations. Over the last three weeks, the Romney campaign has gone way beyond its cringeworthy “Ugly American” tour through Britain, Israel and Poland. Romney brought up foreign policy during his acceptance speech and yesterday they offered a characteristically desperate, petty and tone deaf response to a maddeningly tragic turn of international events. But Mr. Romney and his team apparently miss an important difference between domestic issues and foreign affairs.
Lives are at stake in foreign affairs matters.
If the Romney campaign doesn’t view foreign policy as an important campaign issue then it should have the discipline to shut up about it. Of course, I already know that this is too much to ask. The least they could do, however, is avoid being so reflexively opportunistic, so stupid and so ignorant in trying to score petty political points that they wind up making matters worse. For all of its money and infrastructure, I have never seen a campaign behave so small.