Libya attack political fallout: Obama as Carter? Romney as Nixon?
In the hardball politics of this presidential campaign, President Obama is being likened to Jimmy Carter and Mitt Romney to Richard Nixon – former presidents their parties keep out of sight.
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“He has not shown that he is a person of original foreign policy thinking,” she said in a Wall Street Journal video. Regarding what many analysts found to be snap and intemperate comments in the middle of a diplomatic crisis that would spread from Egypt and Libya to other countries, she said, “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors.”
Then came the kicker.
“Romney looked weak today,” Ms. Noonan said. “At one point, he had a certain slight grimace on his face when he was taking tough questions from the reporters. And I thought, ‘He looks like Richard Nixon.’”
As the week wore on, Noonan wasn’t the only one on the right critical of Romney’s attempt to cast the tragedy in Libya – where Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other embassy employees were killed in what seems to have been a coordinated attack, perhaps with ties to Al Qaeda – in an overtly political light.
Mark Salter, senior strategist for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, wrote on RealClearPolitics: “In the wake of this violence, the rush by Republicans – including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and scores of other conservative critics – to condemn [Obama] for policies they claim helped precipitate the attacks is as tortured in its reasoning as it is unseemly in its timing.”
“Politicians must pander, it goes with the job,” conservative writer David Frum wrote on the Daily Beast. “But they mustn't leave their fingerprints all over their pandering. The Romney campaign's attempt to score political points on the killing of American diplomats was a dismal business in every respect. Disregarding every other aspect, however, it was graceless and stupid as a matter of politics.”
These days, Republicans love to be likened to (or at least bask in the glow of) Ronald Reagan. So perhaps it’s worth noting what Mr. Reagan as presidential challenger said during President Carter’s dark hour when the Iran hostage rescue mission had failed.
“This is a difficult day for all of us Americans,” Reagan said at a press conference. “It is time for us … to stand united. It is a day for quiet reflection … when words should be few and confined essentially to our prayers.”