If there were any lingering doubts about Mitt Romney's unfitness to serve as Commander-in-Chief, his shameful response to the killings of four Americans at a U.S. consulate in Libya should have put them to rest. Romney didn't know the facts. He didn't know the timeline of events. He didn't know who was responsible for the embassy breaches in Cairo and Benghazi. Yet even before Americans had learned of and could mourn their deaths, Governor Romney used their murdered countrymen to slander the President of the United States. When the proverbial 3 A.M. phone call came, Romney let it go to voice mail, where his pre-recorded message called the President "disgraceful" and charged that Obama "sympathize[d] with those who waged the attacks."
Of course, it shouldn't have taken this appalling episode for Mitt Romney to disqualify himself in the eyes of so many. He long ago proved he lacks the judgment, temperament and steadfastness needed to guide the United States during times of crisis.
Consider, in no particular order, the following examples:
Thanks to multiple deferments, Mitt Romney avoided combat duty in the rice fields of Vietnam by instead serving his church in the tony 16th arrondissement of Paris. But while Time reported in 2007 that "he felt guilty about the draft deferment," during his Senate run in 1994 Mitt acknowledged "he did not have any desire to serve in the military during his college and missionary days." (Ironically, the mockery of France would become a centerpiece of Romney's planned campaigns against Hillary Clinton in 2008 and Barack Obama in 2012.) Regardless, four decades after his time in France, he told Iowa voters in 2007 that his own five sons had a higher calling than the U.S. armed forces in Iraq:
"My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard. One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."
And five years ago, would-be President Romney had a message about a potential nightmare facing the United States. Echoing Glenn Beck, Romney warned that "It's this century's nightmare, jihadism - violent, radical Islamic fundamentalism. Their goal is to unite the world under a single jihadist caliphate." And Romney's "they," it turned out, conflated virtually every Muslim, friend or foe, into one, undifferentiated threat:
"But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch, that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there's going to be another and another. This is about Shia and Sunni. This is about Hezbollah and Hamas and al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the worldwide jihadist effort to try and cause the collapse of all moderate Islamic governments and replace them with a caliphate."
And asked about that "one person, Osama Bin Laden," Mitt Romney was of two minds. In late April 2007, he announced, "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." But just days later, Romney reversed course and declared of Bin Laden, "He's going to pay, and he will die."
And thanks to President Obama, die he did. But during his first run for the White House, Mitt Romney opposed the very kind of unilateral U.S. strike in Pakistan candidate Barack Obama promised to carry out against Bin Laden and other high value Al Qaeda targets. Of course, after Bin Laden was killed, Romney repeatedly insisted "I think other presidents and other candidates, like myself, would do exactly the same thing." Put another way, if Mitt Romney gets that phone call at 3 A.M., he'd give you a different answer at 3:15.
That was hardly Romney's first foreign policy turnabout. Four years ago Mitt Romney felt pretty good about killing Saddam Hussein, too. As Byron York noted, during a January 2008 GOP debate, Romney was asked, "Was the war in Iraq a good idea worth the cost in blood and treasure we have spent?" Mitt's response?
"It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now."
But despite no new evidence in the intervening three years, by 2011 Multiple Choice Mitt was not so sure:
"Well, if we knew at the time of our entry into Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction -- if somehow we had been given that information, why, obviously we would not have gone in."