Romney Blasted for Saying What Needed to be Said

Mitt Romney has spoken out strongy about the embassy attacks in the Middle East, beginning with this statement:

I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. 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.

Romney’s remarks were met with attacks, some of them quite vitriolic, from Democratic operatives, from Obama himself, from old-media members, and even from some old-line Republicans. These people are basically asserting that no candidate has the right to engage in real-time criticism of a sitting President which a diplomatic or military crisis is underway. Indeed, it seems that many of Romney’s critics are far more furious at him for speaking out than they are at the people who attacked the embassies and murdered an American ambassador.

I’m reminded of an episode I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Following the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Chamberlain administration waffled. Many members of Parliament were furious, and were not shy about letting their views be known. General Edward Spears, himself an MP at the time, described the scene:

Arthur Greenwood got up, tall, lanky, his dank, fair hair hanging to either side of his forehead. He swayed a little as he clutched at the box in front of him and gazed through his glasses at Chamberlain sitting opposite him, bolt-upright as usual. There was a moment’s silence, then something very astonishing happened.

Leo Amery, sitting in the corner seat of the third bench below the gangway on the government side, voiced in three words his own pent-up anguish and fury, as well as the repudiation by the whole House of a policy of surrender. Standing up he shouted across to Greenwood: “Speak for England!”


(Greenwood) hoped the Prime Minister would be able to make, he must make, a further statement when the House met at 12 next day, Sunday…Here many shouted “definite statement.” Every minute’s delay imperilled the foundations of our national honour. There must be no more devices for dragging out what had been dragged out too long. The moment we looked like weakening the Dictators would know we were beaten.

After the declaration of war, and following the British debacle in Norway, Chamberlain again came under attack in the House.

(Leo Amery) reviewed what had occurred since the fall of Finland, and in devastating sentences proved how clear and inevitable German action in Scandinavia had been, and how blind was the Government for not having foreseen the sequence of events…The house remained still and strained as it watched the redoubtable small squat figure of Amery smash the Government. It was as if he were hurling stones as large as himself, and hurling them with a vigour that increased as he proceeded, at the Governmental glass-house. The crash of glass could not be heard, but the effect was that of a series of deafening explosions. He concluded with the terrible words of Cromwell when he dismissed the Long Parliament: “You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say–let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Had Romney’s critics been around in those days–and to the extent their arguments are meant seriously–then I guess they would have wanted all these MPs to simply shut up and allow the Chamberlain government to proceed with its feckless policies unhindered.

The Spears quotes are from his memoir Assignment to Catastrophe.

16 thoughts on “Romney Blasted for Saying What Needed to be Said”

  1. Thanks to you and Sgt Mom for giving us history. Its lack has led to this. And in the midst of that war, T. S. Eliot spoke, too:
    “. . . . A people without history
    Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
    Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
    On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
    History is now and England.”

  2. I was absolutely shocked at the response of Obama.

    It was incredible yet actually predictable- in sync with his Muslim beliefs. Just as predictable as blowing off a meeting with Israel’s Netanyahu for lack of time- but finding time that very day to appear on television. The trailers on You Tube, the Innocence of Muslims, represent free speech at it’s worst. It certainly does not give anyone the right to kill people.

    I cannot believe the Presidential response. Luckily enough, Obama is moving to Hawaii rather than Chicago after he gets booted out of the WH this fall. You guys won’t have to put up with his nonsense.

  3. I doubt that Obama is actually a Muslim, his real religion is surely the worship of Obama. But he does seem to have a real soft spot for the religion, almost a sense of awe toward it,

    He was quoted as saying he would “fight against negative stereotypes of Islam.” I don’t remember him saying anything about fighting against negative stereotypes of Judaism, or Christianity, or even more exotic (to Americans) religions such as Hinduism.

    He also referred to the Muslim call to prayer as one of the prettiest sounds on earth; again, I don’t remember him saying anything parallel about the bells on Easter morning.

  4. I can remember Reagan – both campaigning for President and after – and one thing to remember – he would say things to “piss off” the media – old line Republicans – et al but it filtered — to the people. This was almost transparent and unrealized by the “establishment” but a reason why a million a million turned out for his funeral years later.

    I am wondering – with Romney – if the same thing isn’t going on.

    He shouldn’t be intimidated.

  5. The US Embassy in Iraq covers 104 acres, has 1000 employees and has UAVs, heavily armed troops, armor and heliocopters for evacuation. 9/11 is to jihadis what the 4 of July is to Americans. Jihadis honor 9/11 by attacking Americans, their embassies and their cities. The Iraq embassy as it existed under Petraeus should be the model for all embassies in the Middle East, Africa and SE Asia.

    Obama and Sec of State Clinton are grossly negligent for failing to protect our embassies and should be impeached.

    If Obama can spent trillions for welfare surely he can budget some loose chamge to defend and protect the US embassies in hostile country.

  6. All true.

    Since Romney chose this response, he must now vigorously defend it with the passion we have yet to see from him. This will serve to raise the expectations of the citizens as to what our country’s actions should be or have been and demonstrate that he is committed to his values and positions and policies. It will not necessarily raise his personal stock in the voters’ regard for him in foreign affairs because he will be leading from behind and second guessing the guy who is currently in charge. The attacks from the left are of course a given, the attacks from the McCain school of feckless leadership are in character, but surprising to me since Mitt is their guy. Maybe not?

    Romney missed the early opportunity to frame our response by projecting his steps in his initial statement and forcing the administration to react to his initiative. In this he could have served the country well by injecting some spine into government. The time for beating up Obama and his surrogates for their hand wringing would have been after they failed to act appropriately. In other words after a day or two when the country had digested the events and the weak response. “Make no mistake…” by both Obama and Clinton (Hildabeast) does not substitute for decisive, forceful actions.


  7. How unseemly (I would say “disingenuous” but it doesn’t seem that they’re sufficiently aware of what’s going on around them to rate that) it was for BHO and H.Clinton to couch their disapproval of murder, thuggery, and organized vandalism with regret that someone has exercised their right to an opinion in this country (no matter the validity of the opinion). The so called “instigation” should never have been mentioned. These misguided, weak, and naive people have lost us a lot in the world.

  8. What did the mob want? It wanted the US to haul off the makers of some film in chains, seize all copies of it, and destroy them. This is not, I submit, a foreign policy issue. This is a foreign mob seeking to induce changes to US domestic policy. We can be defended against such pressure or not and the character of our President and his conception of America is front and center as to the resolution of this crisis.

  9. Interesting related post at Ricochet….it seems that in 1934, the AJC and some other anti-Nazi organizations announced plans for a mock trial of Hitler, to be held in Madison Square Garden. The Nazis were not pleased about this affair, and demanded that the U.S. government intervene to stop it.

    Read what Cordell Hull wrote to the Nazi foreign minister:

    As a contrast, following the German takeover of Czechoslovakia photographs were available showing the plight of Czech Jews, dispossessed by the Nazis and wandering the roads of eastern Europe. Dawson, editor of The (London) Times, refused to run any of them: it wouldn’t help the victims, he told his staff, and if they were published, Hitler would be offended.

    In the late 1930s, Winston Churchill spoke of the “unendurable..sense of our country falling into the power, into the orbit and influence of Nazi Germany, and of our existence becoming dependent upon their good will or pleasure…In a very few years, perhaps in a very few months, we shall be confronted with demands” which “may affect the surrender of territory or the surrender of liberty.” A “policy of submission” would entail “restrictions” upon freedom of speech and the press. “Indeed, I hear it said sometimes now that we cannot allow the Nazi system of dictatorship to be criticized by ordinary, common English politicians.”

  10. David – if you get the chance watch Foyle’s War – an excellent series around 2001-2004 – British. It is about a police detective during the time – just before the London Blitz to (currently as i am watching it) during.

    The writing is brilliant not only for the usual detective mystery aspect, but life in the UK during this time.

    There were a number of Nazi sympathizers, secret societies, people convinced that Hitler’s invasion was in the next week/2.

  11. Bill, much of the upper class in England, including Edward VIII, were pro-Nazi. Unity Mitford shot herself in the head when the war started. Hitler arranged for her to be repatriated to England. She never recovered.

  12. Gerlenter’s America Lite notes the pervasive meme of pacificism among American intellectuals – sure, some were fellow travelers that changed stripes when German invaded Russia and some were Nazis – or at least sympathetic. But there were the Lowells, etc. that who just thought that there was little to defend. Isherwood, Auden – they came to America for complex reasons.

  13. Michael – I always wonder who Rudolph Hess was trying to see – the records ordered by the Royal Family sealed for 99 years.

    And, as you mentioned, Edward VIII – locked up in Bermuda after France fell. Imagine England’s fate with him still King.

    If you can stream Foley’s War is on Netflix – highly recommended – the research brings those times to light.

  14. Bill Brandt
    I can remember Reagan – both campaigning for President and after – and one thing to remember – he would say things to “piss off” the media – old line Republicans – et al but it filtered — to the people. This was almost transparent and unrealized by the “establishment” but a reason why a million a million turned out for his funeral years later.

    Reagan’s “evil empire” remark about the Soviet Union, which many pundits condemned, was one of the first glimmers I had that “Hey, this guy isn’t so bad.” Reagan said it like it was. While I had partaken of the “inordinate fear of communism” meme during the 1970s, the invasion of Afghanistan and recollections of Iron Curtain refugees from my home town had made me receptive to “evil empire.”

    My father said that the “evil empire” remark would at least increase tensions- and might lead to war. Given what we have subsequently learned about the inner workings of the Politburo during that time, my father had a point. That doesn’t change my perception that Reagan was correct in labeling the Soviet Union as an “evil empire.”

    Another point about the reactions to Romney’s remarks- how dare he- is that Democrats had no hesitation in commenting on Bush’s foreign policy- no hesitation whatsoever.

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