September 21, 2012

Story Wars, Chapter Two

Hatched by Dafydd

For reasons which remain obvious, the reelection campaign of Barack "I actually believe in redistribution" Obama has turned the tragic, humiliatingly successful attacks against our Cairo embassy and the Benghazi consulate into a week-long "squirrel!" distraction from the parlous state of Obama's economy.

Not that the Permanent Campaign really wants to discuss al-Qaeda overrunning two diplomatic missions, tearing down and burning our American flags, murdering Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats, and raising the black flag of radical Islamism in their place; no, never that discussion, the Prophet Mohammed forbid! The totality the Obamunists want to focus on, and the only story that their media-arm "presstitutes" vigorously flog, is the risible and tendentious meme that the real loser here is Mitt Romney.

Democrats in full scream denounce and repudiate (but fail to refute) Romney's post-attack statements -- variously described by the fourth estate fifth column as "gaffes," "divisive," "unprecedented," "the end of Romney's campaign," and "Romney's worst week ever" -- as insufficiently sensitive to our peace-loving allies in Islamist Egypt and Islamist Libya, and in blatant violation of a longstanding rule of civil discourse the Left just discovered: Presidential challengers shalt not criticize the incumbent's foreign policy in an election year.

All right, I'll bite: Let's take a look at those statements... all of them.

I take for my source that redoubt of right-wing rodomontade, the New York Times, which helpfully collected the colloquy of competing condemnations and complaints, from nine hours before the Cairo embassy was "breeched" until a day or so after. We shall start at the beginning and push on through the batch!

Here is the first infamous statement issued by the Cairo embassy, before the attack on the embassy, but after hysteria had already risen about the "movie that mocked the Prophet Mohammed" (obviously, as the statement refers to both movie and how it "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.") Nota Bene: Assume all emphasis in any of these statements is added by me, unless otherwise instructed:

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.

And here is a very important restatement issued (via Twitter) by the same Cairo embassy, but this time after the attacks had begun at "midafternoon", and more than twelve hours after the first statement above; as a timeline check, note that the embassy refers to the "unjustified breach of the Embassy" (This is one of a series of similar tweets that the embassy or the State Department quickly deleted.):

This morning's condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy

(For the record, "this morning's condemnation" could only have referred to this sentence in the original statement: The embassy "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." Those are the only two things the original message condemned.)

Allow me to analyze the text:

  • The first sentence condemns those who would "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."
  • The next chunk notes that we honor our patriots (how sweet).
  • Then the statement reiterates "respect for religious beliefs" (yatta yatta).
  • Finally, it rejects speech that "hurt[s] the religious beliefs of others," additionally adding the gratuitous conclusion that speech that hurts "feelings" or "beliefs" actually "abuses the universal right of free speech," which, one concludes, only protects speech to which nobody objects.

That is, the initial statement unquestionably sympathized with the "hurt" felt by Moslems and condemned anyone who said, wrote, or produced anything that might hut Moslem feelings. And the follow-up tweet "stand[s] by" that first missive, thus continuing to sympathize with those who had, by then, savagely attacked us. Remember this point, that the embassy stuck to its guns on its original, protester-sympathetic statement; it becomes a vital issue later.

My first observation: Wow, such a forceful reply to burning, sacking, and murder; we condemn it!

My second: Not one word defending freedom of speech in either of these two official statements, none; only a mewling apology for... what? For not censoring those videomakers, as is universal in Islamic countries?

When an American embassy leads off by condemning American citizens and residents for exercising their freedom of speech -- and then stands by that denunciation, even after rampaging jihadis attack that same embassy plus a consulate, murder four Americans including the Ambassador to Libya, and raise their own bloody, black terrorist flag over the conquered territory, the sanity gap is... breathtaking. Obamunists live in an alternative universe.

That the statements contain not one word about our sacred freedom of speech is hardly surprising: While the hard-Left of the 1930s and 40s had no difficulty vigorously defending the fundamental rights, liberties, and freedoms protected by the Constitution, today's "Progressivists" comprise only the Left of hate-speech codes; of political correctness and sensitivity training; of forced recantation of heretical doctrine and reeducation camps; the Left of argument by intimidation, deceit, and thuggish assault; of "SLAPPs" (strategic lawsuits against public participation) and other forms of lawfare; of government censorship, consent decrees that include a code of silence, and every form of suppression of inconvenient speech they can possibly get away with. And all to silence what Tim Leary used to call "injudicious use of the First Amendment."

Does hurting people's feelings or beliefs really "abuse" the freedom of speech? Anyone who believes it does needs a refresher course in early American history! As the Founding Fathers argued, the only kind of speech that needs protection is unpopular speech; popular speech needs none, because popularity itself confers the protection of numbers.

Besides, as even the least observant observer observes, the cheapest emotions in the world are indignation, outrage, hatred, and fury. Many people can go from zero to six million on the Rage-O-Meter just because somebody took a parking place the irate driver had his eye on. Were we to hand over our freedoms to any old fool who takes offense; were we restrained from expressing any creed that might hurt someone's feelings or beliefs; were the government to prevent us from speaking anything that a listener (seen or unseen) considers "hate speech," then however noble the intent of that government (though nobility is rarely the reason for such censorship), we would have no freedom of speech left whatsoever. For "freedom of speech" is precisely the liberty to say that which pisses off other people.

Yes, even including Moslems.

One would expect that elected or confirmed federal officials, of all people, would understand and defend such liberty; first, they take an oath to do so; second, that freedom has been used incessantly to good effect in this country, from the American revolution, to the abolitionist movement, to the marches and speeches against segregation, to Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire," to George W. Bush calling Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the "axis of evil." Despite the fact that everybody on the other side of such speech was (or professed to be) outraged, upset, shocked, shocked, nauseated, and infuriated that free speech could be so abused. Should we have censored Patrick Henry and smothered Martin Luther King, jr., just because lobsterbacks and Klansmen were offended?

Enough, let us move on. Three and a half hours after the tweet (and there were others, deleted by the State Department before the Times could archive them), Hillary Clinton issued her first pronunciamento:

I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.

This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation.

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.

All right, but how deep is Hillary Clinton's commitment to tolerance of speech that offends her and her boss? Her declaration tells us little we didn't already know:

  • We now discover that the State Department doesn't believe that an anti-Moslem video justifies attacking embassies and murdering ambassadors. (Thank heaven for small favors!)
  • And once again, we sympathize with Moslems everywhere, who suffered such a crushing blow to their self esteem by learning that not everybody loves the Prophet Mohammed.

  • Finally, and let me be clear, we deplore violence.

Anybody notice what is still missing from this series of official responses, both before and after the bestial and unlawful attacks?

Two minutes later, the Department of Hillary summarily rejects the original embassy response, throwing Ambassador to Egypt Anne W. Patterson under the bus (along with her acting comandante, not sure who that was, since she was in Washington DC at the time of the attacks):

The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.

Finally, and for the first time (a quarter hour after the Hillary manifesto and about seven hours after the attacks), Gov. Mitt Romney offers his own reaction and thoughts about the official governmental responses to this point:

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.

The Left immediately assailed Romney on three grounds:

  1. That he had no right to jump into this imbroglio because that would "politicize" it.
  2. On the spurious and unproven grounds that Romney had "confused the timeline" by foolishly thinking that the initial embassy response occurred after the attacks.
  3. And because, claims the Left, accusing Obama and minions of sympathizing with those who attack us is a vicious, racist lie! Romney's name should instantly be removed from every ballot on all fifty-seven states, allowing Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to win the way he normally wins his elections... by default!

On the first, here is Ben LaBolt, the Mouth of Barack, trying to pound home the first meme less than two hours later, that a presidential challenger has no right to criticize the president's political statements because doing so would politicize them:

We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America isconfronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya,Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.

I'm shocked, shocked to find that politics is going on in here! So what was LaBolt's own statement, chopped liver? Don't be a dolt: Accusing your opponent of playing politics is itself playing politics.

Never in the modern era have we seen a more politicized presidency than the one we suffer through right now. I marvel at the chutzpah LaBolt required to accuse anyone else of "launch[ing] a political attack!" I reckon he didn't want a crisis to go to waste. We can dispense with the absurdity of the pot calling... oh dear, I don't want to be accused of racism, so I'll just stifle my freedom of speech. (See how well it works?)

All right, but what about the second prong of the attack on Romney? Didn't he confuse the timeline? Isn't he just another fulminating, redfaced, rage-filled, cement-headed, racist rightwinger?

The charge that Romney was just too stupid to know (or too dishonest to admit) that the attacks hadn't occurred yet when the Cairo embassy released its first statement critically depends upon one completely hidden assumption: The Left must assume that Romney had not seen the several follow-up tweets that came after the attacks, where the embassy "stands by" its earlier kowtowing to Moslem sensitivity.

But why wouldn't he have? Many hours had passed between the original embassy statement, the attacks, and Romney's first response. He has a very large and well-funded campaign; and the tweets themselves were known by news agencies -- again obviously, as several of them still exist, even after the State Department deleted them: People knew about the tweets and had saved them.

Let's assume that in the seven hours or so between the attacks and Romney's response, he wasn't just sitting on a treestump, silent as the Sphinx. Let's assume the GOP nominee was actually talking about the most urgent and shocking news story of the day.

Is that so farfetched? How unreasonable is it that Mitt Romney, angered by that first embassy response, asked his staff whether there was any other statement or pronouncement responding to the developing international incident? How unthinkable is it really that some member of his crack staff put the tweets in Romney's hand and said, "take a look at these, governor."

I can easily imagine the conversation -- because I went through pretty much the same conversation with my wife Sachi at about the same time:

ROMNEY: Wait -- when were these tweets sent?

STAFFER: Six-thirty p.m. Eastern time, sir.

ROMNEY: But that's three hours after the attacks! They're still feeling sorry for those poor, put-upon terrorists, even after the attacks? And what's this bit here, that expressing a view that offends Moslems is an abuse of freedom of speech? What lunatic wrote this?

STAFFER: Governor, this statement from the State Department just came in...

ROMNEY: Great leaping horny toads -- what does Hillary Clinton mean when she says we "deplore any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others?" Iran says Jews should be exterminated; Hamas calls Jews and Christians "pigs and monkeys," and demands that the U.N. enact an anti-blasphemy law; and the ACLU, great pals of President Obama, are busy in court trying to prevent the display of the "miracle cross" from the World Trade Centers, because God unconstitutionally fused two pieces of metal together! This is insane. This is nothing like what George W. Bush said when he stood on the rubble at ground zero. This administration is a pack of howling jackals! And I'm going to let them know just what I think of such unAmerican bowing and scraping.

The Romney statement could have followed immediately thereafter -- greaty toned down, of course.

But what about the third attack, that it's a damned lie to claim that the government "sympathized" with the radical Islamists? Here is my neat and sweet, three-point syllogism refudiating the Progressivist position on this exchange:

  1. Count how many times the official administration responses defended our fundamental freedom of speech.
  2. Count how many times, how many lines, how many paragraphs, and the percent of these government responses taken up with blanket, codependent reassurances issued to radical Islamists that we feel their pain, that we're appalled that Americans would "abuse" the freedom of speech in such an unconstitutional way: insulting the Prophet Mohammed, of all things!

  3. Contrast and compare: Between those wicked and despicable free-speechers on the right hand and the blood-gutted, human-sacrificing terrorists on the left -- and using only the textual evidence before us -- which side has all of the administration's sympathy? Which side gets the "poor babies," and which gets the back of Obama's hand?

I rest my case: Romney had the bastards pegged.

(If you're still confused about where our government's sympathies lie, just read this breaking Yahoo News story about our tax dollars hard at work... airing an advert in Pakistan reassuring Moslems that we really, really, really don't believe in freedom of speech, and we're extremely concerned for the feelings of jihadists, so please, please, don't kill us!)

Early the next morning, Barack "Too busy with Letterman to meet with Netanyahu" Obama issued his own statement; it was entirely trivial, uninformative, perfunctory. Here is the only sentence that pertains to the question at hand:

While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

Senseless? Really? Al-Qaeda, defeated by "the previous administration," has been resuscitated by the current one. They launched a series of astonishingly successful attacks, killed our people, raised their own flag and burned ours, and generally demonstrated their prowess and fitness to rule the ummah. Makes a heck of a lot of sense from their perspective!

We have one last document to document. Just to make it super-duper clear, this is Mitt Romney's second response, the next morning. Note that what was missing from all of the official government statements is present, loud and clear, in the ringing words of the next President of the United States.

I shall put the entire Romney release under the "Slither on;" here I post only those portions of his televised speech that pertain to what the government forgot, on every possible occasion, to do: make the case for a general right to freedom of speech for everyone, even those living in Moslem countries.

Mitt Romeny makes it crystal clear in this statement what he only implied in his first statement: The Cairo embassy, on its twitter feed, stood by its first apology for freedom of speech at 6:30 pm EDT. Therefore, they effectively issued the same statement twice, once before the attacks and once after them. Romney was outraged by that second statement, the "ditto" declaration. And it was that reiteration, that standing by, that prompted the governor to state, four hours later, that it was "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."

When he made his statement, the embassy had already been attacked -- and had already reaffirmed its initial apology. That is the context in which Romney first sent a statement, then later gave a press conference. Romney and the rest of us already knew that our embassies had been attacked, and anybody following the twitter feed already knew that the embassy was still apologizing for American values even after being attacked and overrun, and after the attack on its sister consulate in Libya turned murderous.

Never forget that. The Left wants us to believe that the Cairo embassy had no idea what was going to happen when they idiotically denigrated freedom of speech. But they did it again after the attacks, so they have no excuse whatsoever.

Here is Romney's presser, beginning with a small portion of his prepared remarks:

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. 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.

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. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.

In the Q&A that followed (unlike Obama, Romney welcomes questions; he even welcomes them from those in the news biz who sincerely want to see Romney lose):

Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?

MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.

Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech....

Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?

MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.

Sure, it's not Tom Paine or Thomas Jefferson; but for a contemporary politician embroiled in a hot race for the presidency -- which both Gallup and Rasmussen polls today show to be neck and neck -- it's a bold, spirited, unapologetic, and forthright celebration of our greatest freedom. Mitt Romney thinks like a real American, while Barack "Citizen of the world" Obama thinks like an anticolonial Progressivist who has never been sure whether he loves his country or despises it to the bone.

(Much like how the president feels about his biological progenitor: Abandoned by the man himself, Obama wraps himself in a self-generated fantasy -- dreams from his father, dreams from his country, an obsessed fan longing for love with a fictional TV character.)

But back to the point. Mitt Romney's heartfelt response to the administration's tepid condemnation of the attacks, and his outrage at the complete absence of any defense of freedom of speech (in fact, a tacit renunciation of such freedoms, now shackled by the "Tender Sensibilities of Moslems" exception), was clearly the best and most appropriate possible thing he could say anent the craven surrender by the Obamunists.

Several more attacks against the United States have been carried out in Yemen, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and now China; yet even the pro-forma denunciations of violence against America have been dropped, presumably because the administration concludes that denial of the new attacks is more tenable at this point than an explanation of the administration's own foreign-policy and security failures.

What concrete steps have we actually taken to find and punish the Libyan killers, and those Egyptians who so easily overran our actual embassy in Cairo? How are we responding to the new attacks on Americans and on America itself? China and Japan are in a tussle over what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands and purchased them from its previous owner, the Kurihara family. China calls them the Diaoyu Islands; and since oil was discovered under the islands in 1968, the People's Republic of China demands they be seized from Japan and handed over to China.

Naturally, anti-Japanese protesters in China see this as the perfect opportunity to attack the American ambassador -- because we're allied with Japan, and because one of the islands (Kuba, no relation to Castro's paradise) is used as an American bombing range. For the PRC, snatching away the islands, which have been controlled by Japan or by the United States since 1895 and never by China, would be a "two-fer": Red China would get the oil and would be able to drive the U.S. Navy out of part of what China considers its hemisphere.

Why is Red China so bold as to threaten us and Japan over the sale this month? Because we are weak. America is weaker today than it has been in many, many decades; and the ease and impugnity of these attacks on our embassies (American sovereign territory -- once) and allies proves it. One would probably have to return to the mass American disarmament following World War I to find a moment when we were more ill prepared to defend ourselves, our property, our international rights, and our ideology of liberty.

Barack H. Obama has brought hope and change, all right: He has given our enemies hope and changed America from the final remaining superpower to a global laughingstock which cannot even fight back when attacked, so thoroughly has he gelded us. It's now a serious question whether we can man-up enough to fire the wretched redistributionist; or whether so many Americans have become court eunuchs, depending upon the government for their very sustenance, that a once proud nation now whines under the triple leash of Russia, China, and radical Islamism.

We shall find out how strong those leashes are on November 6th.

Here is the transcript of Mitt Romney's full remarks (truncated at the beginning, as for some reason the feed didn't begin right away):

…. 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 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.

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. 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.

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. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.

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, America 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.

Over the last several years we stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region but also poses the potential for peril if the voices -- 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.

Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?

MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.

Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech.

Q: So what did the White House do wrong then, Governor Romney, if they -- if they put out a statement saying --

MR. ROMNEY: It's their administration -- their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also from the words that come from his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department. They clearly -- they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And -- and the statement that came from the administration -- and the embassy is the administration -- the statement that came from the administration was a -- was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a -- a -- a severe miscalculation.

Q: Governor, some --

Q: Talk about mixed signals -- (inaudible) -- itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time -- (inaudible)?

MR. ROMNEY: We're -- we have a campaign for presidency of the United States and are speaking about the different courses we would each take with regards to the challenges that the world faces. The president and I, for instance, have differences of opinion with regards to Israel and our policies there, with regards to Iran, with regards to Afghanistan, with regards to Syria. We have many places of distinction and differences.

We joined together in the condemnation of the attacks on American embassies and the loss of American life and joined in the sympathy for these people. But it's also important for me -- just as it was for the White House last night, by the way -- to say that the statements were inappropriate and, in my view, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.

Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?

MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.

STAFF: Last question.

Q: If you had known last night that the ambassador had died -- and obviously, I'm gathering you did not know --

MR. ROMNEY: Well, that came -- that came later.

Q: That's right. If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued --

MR. ROMNEY: I'm not going -- I'm not going to take hypotheticals about what would have been known when and so forth.

We responded last night to the events that happened in Egypt.

Q: Governor, what sort of --

Q: Governor Romney, your -- one of your professed reasons for running is your economic know-how and your private sector experience. But now that foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East -- (off mic) -- the presidential campaign, can you talk about why, specifically, you think you're better qualified than President Obama -- (off mic)?

MR. ROMNEY: I think President Obama has demonstrated a lack of clarity as to a foreign policy. My foreign policy has three fundamental branches: first, confidence in our cause, a recognition that the principles America was based upon are not something we shrink from or apologize for, that we stand for those principles; the second is clarity in our purpose, which is that when we have a foreign policy objective, we describe it honestly and clearly to the American people, to Congress and to the people of the world; and number three is resolve in our might, that in those rare circumstances, those rare circumstances where we decide it's essential for us to apply military might, that we do so with overwhelming force, that we do so in the clarity of a mission, understanding the nature of the U.S. interest involved, understanding when the mission would be complete, what will be left when it is -- what will be left behind us when that mission has been -- has been terminated.

These elements, I believe, are essential to our foreign policy, and I haven't seen them from the president. As I watched -- as I've watched over the past three and a half years, the president has had some successes. He's had some failures. It's a hit-or-miss approach, but it has not been based upon sound foreign policy.

Q: Governor Romney, how, specifically -- how, specifically, Governor Romney, would President Romney have handled this situation differently than President Obama did? Before midnight, when all the facts were known? How would you have handled it differently than the president did?

MR. ROMNEY: I spoke out when the key fact that I referred to was known, which was that the Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles. That was a mistake. And I believe that when a mistake is made of that significance, you speak out.

Thank you.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2012, at the time of 4:11 PM

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