No, “Jumping the Gun” Was Not Romney’s Big Problem After the 9/11 Attacks

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Jonah Goldberg today:

The establishment-press position is that Mitt Romney outrageously jumped the gun in his condemnation of the Obama administration’s response to the attacks on our embassies….I understand and can respect the opposing point of view, by the way. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to argue that Romney jumped the gun. I do think, however, the obsession with the issue is beyond ridiculous.

I’m not surprised that conservatives are trying so hard to change the subject here, but we shouldn’t let them. For the record, then: the unseemly haste of Romney’s comment following the 9/11 attacks on the embassy in Cairo was, at best, a distant third of three reasons that most of us were so disgusted with him. Remember, this is what Romney said:

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.

There are two big problems with this:

  1. It’s a lie. The embassy statement Romney is referring to was issued several hours before the attack. It was not a response to the attacks.
  2. It’s scurrilous to suggest that Obama “sympathized” with the attackers. There was nothing in the embassy statement that suggested any kind of sympathy, and the actual first response from the Obama administration very clearly condemned the attacks.

Later, of course, Romney denounced the anti-Islam video at the heart of the current riots, thus taking exactly the same stand as both the embassy and the Obama administration. So when he issued his statement late on the evening of 9/11, he knew perfectly well that the embassy statement hadn’t been issued in response to the attacks and he knew perfectly well that he agreed with the sentiments in the statement anyway. That’s what made his response so odious. The fact that he was so eager to score cheap political points was just a small added fillip.

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This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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