Everyone should agree on this: No more apologies to terrorists
You wouldn’t know it by reading media accounts, but there’s common ground somewhere in the gray space between all the black-and-white bickering between President Obama and the Romney campaign about who said what, when and to whom in the aftermath of the attacks on American embassies. There is a unifying principle that, at least if we are to take the various public statements at face value, should unite Obama, Romney and the press.
Mitt Romney says the Obama administration, under a best-case scenario, sent “mixed messages” to tyrants and terrorists when the only statement from the United States government in the first several hours after an attack on the Egyptian and later-Libyan embassies was one in which the U.S. government apologized for the “hurt religious feelings of Muslims.” (Note: There is mounting evidence to suggest that the “hurt Muslim feelings” explanation is all just a smokescreen, and that the real motivation was the same as it ever was for Islamist radicals: a desire to harm America and kill Americans.)
Mixed messages, Romney, et al. point out, are a staple of the Obama administration. This is the president who will annihilate terrorists with a drone rather than subject them to the horrors of the waterboard; a president who believes in dialogue with even the seediest of foreign dictators, but not with Benjamin Netanyahu, at least not during the Israeli Prime Minister’s current trip through the United States.
Under a worst-case scenario, Romney says, the Obama administration was being soft in a part of the world where such behavior invites further violence, apologizing to terrorists via the Cairo statement (and allowing it to be the only statement of the government for nearly 10 hours) when a more appropriate response would have been, say, death by Barackian drone.
The elites in the press, meanwhile, slammed Romney for politicizing national security. Self-endowed umpires of what constitutes legitimate criticism and what’s “craven” exploitation of a national tragedy, yesterday the press unfurled its reflexive, pro-Obama fury on the person of Mitt Romney for having the compunction to suggest that the president would send “mixed messages” or go soft on the Islamic terrorists.
The national press simply know, without the trouble of independent confirmation, that the White House would have never authorized the Cairo apology, it seems.
President Barack Obama, for his part, says that Romney engaged in ready-fire-aim politics by blaming him for an apology to terrorist bile that, Obama says, the White House neither saw nor authorized. If his argument sounds exactly like the media’s, that’s because it is. In any case, Obama says he wouldn’t have apologized.
So where, you ask, can there possibly be common ground amid all this he-said-she-said recrimination?
Simple: Romney says the administration sent mixed messages that included an apology to terrorists, which should never happen. The media says that Obama did not authorize the apology, because apologies to terrorists should never happen. And Obama simply repeats after the press: No apology was made, because apologies to terrorists should never happen.
There’s our common ground: Apologizing to terrorists should never happen.
Seems simple enough, right?
So then maybe somebody should explain why American officials keep apologizing to terrorists.
Let’s give team Obama the benefit of the doubt. Let’s assume the administration didn’t authorize the Cairo apology, that it was issued only in response to a gathering mob in Cairo and the administration committed a simple oversight in allowing the apology to stand unchallenged for hours.
Ok, fine. That still doesn’t excuse the Cairo apology in the first place. You don’t apologize to an angry mob of radical jihadists protesting outside your embassy. Ever.
And yet, the spokesperson(s) for the embassy did exactly that. Some four hours after the flag over our embassy was set ablaze, senior staff were still at it. “Sorry, but neither breaches of our compound or angry messages will dissuade us from defending freedom of speech AND criticizing bigotry,” they said.
Can you imagine what Harry Truman would have done to these staffers by now, especially after what came next in Libya?
And maybe that’s a good place to start. Fire the pandering embassy officials who felt compelled to suck up to the mob that sacked the U.S. Embassy. What better way to signal that, when it comes to radicals in the Middle East, we are out of the apology business.
Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.