GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaks at a rally in New Hampshire on September 7. Romney's statements in the aftermath of attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi have drawn criticism for Democrats. (Photo by Katherine Cresto/Flickr)
By Bob Bradley
On Tuesday, an armed attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens whose work in Libya was well respected by members of both parties in Congress. Several theories have emerged as to the cause of the attack. One is that the attack was part of a general riot in reaction to the viewing in Libya of a low-budget, Internet-released movie “Innocence of Muslims” which was critical of the Islamic faith and the Prophet Muhammad. A second was the attack had actually been planned for some time to respond to the recent killing by a drone of the second –in-command al Qaeda leader in Libya. The riot simply provided a distraction for an armed assault on the U.S. consulate. The third theory was the attack was planned by an al Qaeda splinter group in Libya to commemorate 9/11 and show to the world that the organization still constitutes a threat. Whatever the cause the tragic fact remains that Americans and Libyans lost their lives including a well respected figure in Middle East politics.
Unfortunately, perhaps due to the amount of time left in this presidential campaign season, the tragedy became almost immediately politicized. Governor Romney in reaction partly to a statement issued from the American embassy in Cairo said that the attack in Benghazi was due to the mixed messages sent by Obama administration in foreign policy, and that the United States should not apologize for pursuing American values. Whether you agree or disagree with Romney’s sentiments, the timing of the statement was poorly calculated. It was made before the all the facts about the attack had been uncovered. Also, the issuance of the statement so soon after the attack did not take into consideration the rally-around-the-flag phenomenon that almost always occurs when there is a widely publicized attack in a foreign land where Americans lose their lives. Whether they like or dislike him at other times or on other issues the American public will typically support the president when American lives are on the line. Governor Romney would have been much better suited by waiting at least a day or so before launching such a sharp attack on the leader of the nation. Plus Governor Romney made his statement at a shopping mall in Florida while Obama issued the official response of the nation at the White House. Which setting looked more presidential?
Bob Bradley is solely responsible for the opinions expressed above. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of WJBC, Radio Bloomington or Cumulus Media staff or management.
Bradley was a full-time professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University where he has been since 1982. He has received several recognitions including: Carnegie Scholar for Civic Engagement, Constitution Trail Friend of the Year, and Faculty Star distinction by ISU Athletics. He dearly loves his wife, Reenie, of more than 25 years, and his daughter, Erin. He is an avid reader, devout sports enthusiast, gardener, golfer, and bird watcher.