“There’s a broader lesson to be learned here,” Obama told CBS News, less than 24 hours after the surprise attacks on the unguarded U.S. diplomatic sites in Egypt and Libya killed four diplomats.
“Gov. Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later,” said Obama, who has supported the rise of Islamist governments in Egypt and Libya.
“It’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them,” he said aboard Air Force One on his way to a campaign stop in Las Vegas.
The Democratic theme that Romney is rash, however, has been undermined by the administration’s own actions.
In the hours after Romney slammed a submissive message from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the administration claimed to disavow the embassy’s suggestion that criticisms of Islam amounts to “abuse” of the free speech.
White House officials also sent 50 U.S. Marines to Libya to help guard the remaining U.S. diplomats in the country. Before and during the attack, the dead ambassador was reportedly guarded by Libyans, not by Marines.
In 2011, Obama used air forces — but not ground forces — to remove Libya’s dictator, leaving the new Libyan government unable to secure the dictator’s huge armory, or to corral the various tribal and jihadi groups in the country.
Obama’s dispatch of the 50 Marines to Libya comes 207 years after musket-armed Marines were sent to shores of Tripoli in 1805 to rescue Americans captured by Islamic pirates. (RELATED: The anti-Muhammad video taht started it all)
Although he suggested that Romney has not thought about the long-term impact of his policies, Obama is now grappling with the consequences of his support the rise of Islamist governments in Egypt and Libya. For example, Libyan-based Islamists have also used captured Libyan weaponry to seize control of the northern province of Libya’s neighboring country, Mali.
Also, Egypt’s government did little to stop the riot at the embassy, while a spokesman for the government’s political party, the Muslim Brotherhood, told the Washington Post that American critics of Islam should be punished.
However, Obama’s direction of the established media may succeed.
Obama’s team has already nudged the D.C.-focused political media to magnify the Democrats’ late-night Sept. 11 claim that the Romney politicized the Libyan attack..
The Sept. 11 riots at the embassy, which included the burning of U.S. flags and the raising of a flag associated with jihadists, followed warning of a pending Islamist protests against a low-budget ant-Islamic movie being produced in California.
Prior to, and during the Cairo riot, embassy officials used the Internet to argue that anti-Islamic messages were not protected by the first amendment. “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy [and] we firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others,” said the embassy statement.
Romney slammed that submissive message late Sept. 11. “It is 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,” said Romney’s late-night Sept. 11 statement.
Shortly before the 2004 election, The New York Times and other establishment outlets slammed President George W. Bush for not securing weaponry in post-invasion Iraq.
That theme has not been present in the 2012 election, even though Libya-based Islamists have armed themselves with unguarded Libyan weaponry.