Obama Honors Libya Victims, Ryan Addresses Hate Group, Romney Likes Snooki

"Their sacrifice will never be forgotten," Obama said at Andrews Air Force Base on September 14 as the remains of four Americans killed in the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya were repatriated. A military band played the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee." As reported by the Associated Press, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's voice broke as she spoke, and she appeared to be fighting tears as she listened to the President speak. ""They knew the danger, and they accepted it," Obama said. "They didn't simply embrace the American ideal. They lived it," he said.

At about the same time, GOP VP candidate Rep. Paul Ryan was addressing the "Value Voters Summit" — a conference of right-wing activists sponsored by the Family Research Council, designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

SPLC and other civil rights organizations had urged politicians not to attend this year's summit, primarily because of the Family Research Council's (FRC) defamation of the LGBT community. The SPLC letter to prominent conservatives invited to speak at the "summit" noted that a spokesman for one of the "summit's" co-sponsors, the American Family Association (AFA) has linked homosexuality to the Holocaust.

Disturbingly ironic in the context of the violent protests in the Middle East, the FRC's executive director is retired Lt. General William "Jerry" Boykin, notorious for his assertion last year that "Islam is not a religion and does not deserve First Amendment protections."

"We can be confident of the rightness of our cause," Ryan told the "values voters."

Romney did not address the "summit" in person, although in a videotaped message he told the group "culture matters," and that he would "support the expression of religious faith in the public square." It was unclear whether that public expression would include the kind of protests that killed the four Americans in Libya.

Apparently Romney could not appear at the "summit" in person, because of a scheduled appearance on ABC's "Live with Kelly and Michael." Asked to choose between "Honey Boo Boo," whose reality TV program had better ratings than the GOP convention, and Snooki, star of MTV's "Jersey Shore," Romney confessed to being "kind-of a Snooki fan," citing her "sparkplug personality." Romney also revealed that his "guilty pleasure" is peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk.

Meanwhile, violent protests spread to nearly 20 countries including North Africa, South Asia, and Indonesia. "The United States of America will never retreat from the world. We will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every person deserves," Obama said.



New York magazine's John Heilemann writes of Romney's bungled response to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya:

Here was ­America under attack, with four dead on foreign soil. And here was Romney, defiantly refusing to adopt a tone of sobriety, solemnity, or seriousness, instead attempting to score cheap political points, doubling down on his criticism from the night before that the Obama administration had been “disgraceful” for “sympathiz[ing]” with the attackers—criticism willfully ignoring the chronology of events, the source of the statement he was pillorying, the substance of the statement, and the circumstances under which it was made.

That the left heaped scorn on Romney’s gambit came as no surprise. But the right reacted almost as harshly—with former aides to John McCain, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan creating an on-the-record chorus of disapproval, while countless other Republican officials and operatives chimed in anonymously. “This is worse than a Lehman moment,” says a senior GOP operative. “­McCain made mistakes of impulsiveness, but this was a deliberate and premeditated move, and it totally revealed Romney’s character; it revealed him as completely craven and his candidacy as serving no higher purpose than his ambition.”

This bipartisan condemnation would have been bad enough in itself, but its negative effects were amplified because it fed into a broader narrative emerging in the media across the ideological spectrum: that Romney is losing, knows he is losing, and is starting to panic. This story line is, of course, rooted in reality, given that every available data point since the conventions suggests that Obama is indeed, for the first time, opening up a lead outside the margin of ­error nationally and in the battleground states....

The New Yorker's John Cassidy writes:

About the best that can be said for Romney is that, responding to the public statements from the U.S. Embassy in Egypt, he took a cynical tactical gamble that misfired after the protests in Libya took a tragic turn. When you are losing an election that you should win you have to do something, and accusing a Democratic President of being soft on national security is a standard G.O.P. fallback.

And if that was foolhardy, Romney’s decision on Wednesday morning to double down—this after the news emerged that Stevens and three other consulate officials had been killed—was virtually inexplicable. “It almost feels like Sarah Palin is his foreign policy adviser,” Matthew Dowd, a former political adviser to President George W. Bush, told the Washington Post. “It’s just a huge mistake on the Romney campaign’s part—huge mistake.”

...Romney’s political advisers aren’t the brightest bulbs—his entire campaign has been a litany of errors. What has been less remarked upon is the makeup of Romney’s foreign-policy team. For a former businessman who claims to willing to hire the best and smartest regardless of background, it is a remarkably unimpressive and ideologically driven group, consisting largely of washed up neocons and Cold Warriors, many of whom served in the Administration of George W. Bush.

... John Bolton is another important player in the Romney team. Often dismissed even on the right as a hirsute blowhard, Bolton appears to have persuaded Romney to take him seriously.

Romney has demonstrated that he’s a poor politician, allowing himself to be co-opted and hoodwinked by the right.

When Romney decided to run in 2012, the best argument for his candidacy was that he had nothing to do with the Bush Administration and could appeal to moderate voters. But rather than trying to make a break with the Bush Administration and portraying himself as a different sort of Republican, one who has learned from the mistakes of the past, Romney has embraced the Bush heritage—one that delivered the Presidency to Obama in 2008. We see this in economic policy, where he has embraced the Republican orthodoxy that tax cuts are a solution to everything and tax increases are evil. We see it in the field of social issues, where he has pandered to evangelicals and conservative Catholics on issues like abortion and gay marriage. And now we see it in foreign policy, where he has given a platform to the very folks who led us to disaster in Iraq.