The documentary singling out Egyptian Muslims for their alleged bias against Christians coupled with a blatant attack on the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer and a fake led to a series of terrifying events in the Middle East recently. I have already written about the inappropriate response of candidate Romney to the attack and killing of the Ambassador and three diplomats in Libya, and especially for turning the terrible event into a political football. But the aftermath of that response tells us even more about the character of the man who would be our next President.
A recent story by John Hellemann in New York Magazine includes this interesting paragraph:
That the left heaped scorn on Romney’s gambit came as no surprise. But the right reacted almost as harshly—with former aides to John McCain, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan creating an on-the-record chorus of disapproval, while countless other Republican officials and operatives chimed in anonymously. “This is worse than a Lehman moment,” says a senior GOP operative. “McCain made mistakes of impulsiveness, but this was a deliberate and premeditated move, and it totally revealed Romney’s character; it revealed him as completely craven and his candidacy as serving no higher purpose than his ambition.”
Initially I gave Romney high political (but not moral) grades for attempting to turn his gaffe into a plus by assuming the offensive. I have noted in the past the Republicans are very good at this sort of thing: taking an event that results in mud in their own face and insisting it is chocolate. Instead of apologizing to the President and the country for criticizing the President at a moment when the country needed calm reassurance, he insisted his response was appropriate as he was “defending American values,” and such a defense, he insisted, is always appropriate. I knew this was B.S. but I thought it a clever attempt to attract the voters who still sit on the fences of this political contest and bring them into his camp. I wasn’t excusing the man, mind you, just noting his guile. I suspect he thought he would appear the stronger man while the President was adopting a conciliatory and meek posture. Clearly, it was a ploy designed to garner votes. I figured it might indeed work with voters who hear only what they want to hear.
But my son has convinced me (with articles like the one above from the New York Magazine) that this will likely not happen. He thinks, and I now agree, that Romney’s gaffe will hurt him the way McCain’s gaffe over the financial panic following the collapse of the Lehman Brothers investment bank hurt his candidacy. The fence-sitters will see him as a self-absorbed political animal grasping at straws. No one left of the far right will see his attempts to attack a President in the midst of a crisis of major proportions as anything but a blunder of the first order.
I hope this is the case. John Hellemann certainly thinks so. He thinks it shows “. . .that Romney is losing, knows he is losing, and is starting to panic.” We do not need a President who panics in the face of calamity. Heaven knows terrible things happen and they seem to happen more and more frequently these days. We need a person in charge who exhibits confidence and calm in the face of chaos. That man is clearly not Mitt Romney. And judging by his past behavior in the Lehman Brothers crisis and his handling of the current situation in the Middle East it is Obama. We will see if this episode hurts candidate Romney the way McCain was hurt by his panic in the face of the Lehman Brothers debacle. Time will tell. It usually does.