Whatever advantage President Obama may have had over Mitt Romney on foreign policy after the Democratic Convention celebrated Osama bin Laden’s death all last week, has surely evaporated this week.
First, before any mob ever even materialized in Cairo or Benghazi, The Washington Post’s Marc Thiessen reported that Obama has skipped more than half his daily intelligence meetings since taking office – including every day in the week leading up to the attacks on our diplomatic facilities in Egypt and Libya. The White House has failed to deny Thiessen’s reporting.
Then on Tuesday, there was a complete breakdown in communication between Obama’s State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Cairo over how to respond to Muslim anger about an internet video. The Cable has published a detailed account of the “public relations disaster at the Cairo embassy” that led to a statement rejecting “the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.” The Obama State Department had rejected the statement but the Cairo statement posted it anyway. The White House has since disavowed the statement and removed it from the U.S. Cairo Embassy website.
Then on Wednesday, after Telemundo asked if Obama considered Egypt an ally, Obama said, “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy.” The U.S. State Department was forced to quickly clean up this statement as well. The Associated Press later explained in a “Fact Check” of Obama’s statement, “The United States designated Egypt as one of the six original “major non-NATO allies” in the 1980s. The status is now enjoyed by 15 U.S. “allies” in total, including Israel, Japan, Australia and South Korea.” Asked to explain why Obama bungled such a fundamental foreign policy question, The Cable‘s Josh Rogin reports that, “the question was not anticipated.”
Then yesterday, as more details came to light pointing to the conclusion that the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi was planned and coordinated, serious questions were raised about Obama’s competence in protecting American missions abroad. In response to a London newspaper report claiming that the U.S. had “credible information” about possible attacks, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told Politico: “This is absolutely wrong. We are not aware of any actionable intelligence indicating that an attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi was planned or imminent.” But as Power Line‘s John Hinderaker points out, this a classic Washington non-denial denial. “Credible information” and “actionable intelligence” or two different terms of art.
The Romney campaign is not letting these facts go by without comment. Richard Williamson, a top Romney foreign policy adviser, told The Washington Post, “For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an American ambassador assassinated. The president can’t even keep track of who’s our ally or not. This is amateur hour — it’s amateur hour,” said Williamson, a former assistant secretary of state and ambassador.”
Earlier in the week, one Romney aide had described foreign policy as a “distraction” in this election. Clearly the Romney camp has changed its mind after watching Obama’s foreign policy vision for the Middle East melt down this week.
From The Washington Examiner
Byron York: Romney will be judged on actions, not coverage
Tim Carney: Obama’s No. 3 bundler profits from light-bulb regs, individual mandate
Brian Hughes: Seniors stick with Romney, Ryan in Florida
In Other News
The Wall Street Journal, Fed Acts to Fix Jobs Market: The Federal Reserve, frustrated by persistently high U.S. unemployment and the torpid recovery, launched an aggressive program to spur the economy through open-ended commitments to buy mortgage-backed securities and a promise to keep interest rates low for years.
Associated Press, US budget deficit hits $1.16 trillion: The U.S. federal budget deficit increased by $191 billion in August and has topped $1 trillion for the fourth straight year. The deficit for the first 11 months of the 2012 budget year totaled $1.16 trillion, the Treasury Department said Thursday
The Washington Post, More protests break out in Muslim world as U.S. appeals for calm: Protests inspired by an anti-Islam film targeted more U.S. facilities in the Muslim world Thursday, testing the will and capacity of foreign governments to protect Americans and the ability of the Obama administration to cool the growing anger.
Reuters, In Libya, deadly fury took U.S. envoys by surprise: Accounts from Libyan and U.S. officials, and from locals who watched what began as a protest on Tuesday against a crudely made American film that insults the Prophet Mohammad spiral into violence and a military-style assault on U.S. troops, point to a series of unfortunate choices amid the confusion and fear.
The New York Times, Off-Script Scramble for Power in a Chinese Leader’s Absence: With still no sign of China’s designated new leader, Xi Jinping, who has not been seen in public since Sept. 1, many insiders and well-connected analysts say the Chinese political ship is adrift, with factions jockeying to shape an impending Communist Party conclave.
Hit and Run‘s Nick Gillespie posts a chart depicting the “terrifying” increases in real per capita federal spending over the past 35 years.
Reason‘s Tim Cavanaugh details how the Obama recovery is worse than the recession.
Investor’s Business Daily notes that that past Fed quantitative easing efforts have had mixed results at best.
Slate‘s Matthew Yglesias celebrates The Fed’s “Open-Ended” quantitative easing.
Talking Points Memo claims that a new House Republican bill would “gut” welfare reform.
Think Progress attacks Eric Cantor for “finally” admitting that “spending cuts kill jobs.”