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​Libya and Leadership

There are many who believe that Mitt Romney’s role as the CEO of a corporation makes him the right person to lead our country.  On one of our country’s most solemn occasions, Romney proved beyond a doubt that he is lacking the most important quality required for the Presidency – leadership.

As the country remembered those who died on September 11, 2001, a group of protestors killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.  That evening, Romney released a statement condemning the attacks and saying, “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 criticism was based on a statement released earlier by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo condemning individuals who attempt to “hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

Romney’s reaction was wrong on so many levels.  His first mistake was that he released a political attack on a day of mourning and remembrance for the people of the United States.  His attack attempted to take advantage of the profound feeling of patriotism that Americans feel on September 11, in an effort to gain ground in the election.  This showed a serious lack of respect for the significance of the day.

His second mistake was that he associated a statement released by a staffer at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo with the Obama administration.  The staffer had not cleared this statement with anyone in Washington.  In fact, he had only cleared it with one person.  Romney defended his stance, saying that Obama was showing sympathy for the attackers and “apologizing for [American] values.”  In fact, what really happened is that a staffer made released a statement attempting to show the Muslim world that, even though we believe in freedom of speech, we do not support any attempt to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  While the statement was not created or approved by the Obama administration, the President showed real leadership when he stood behind his staffer instead of throwing him under the bus.

In an interview with 60 Minutes, President Obama said, “In an effort to cool the situation down, it didn’t come from me, it didn’t come from Secretary Clinton. It came from people on the ground who are potentially in danger.  And my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack when they’re in that circumstance, rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office.”  This is an example of a real leader who believes in his people, and stands by them even though they may have made an error in judgment.

Finally, the sum of Romney’s mistake is that he made a hasty decision without the facts.  He tried to use a situation to his advantage and didn’t care about the facts.  While the leader of the United States is called upon to make quick decisions, it is important for that person to make sure that he has all of the relevant facts, and that he is responding in a way that is appropriate.  The fact that Romney didn’t do this shows his complete lack of leadership ability.  Republicans and Democrats alike have condemned his response.  His statements, and his defense of them, have been called “reckless,” “insensitive,” “irresponsible,” “callous,” “cheap,” “an utter disaster,” “incompetent,” “a disgrace,” and “[not] presidential.”

If Romney has done anything in this campaign, it is proving that he is not presidential.  While opinions differ on whether we need a businessman in the Oval Office, I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that the United States needs a leader as President.  President Obama, who admitted that the statement did not come from Washington, but stood behind his staff, is the leader we need.  We need a man who can respect the severity of a situation, particularly on a day that our country already mourns the loss of so many.  We need a man who will stand up and vow that “justice will be done,” while ensuring that only those responsible, not the people or nations who support us during this tragedy, are at the receiving end of our justice.  This incident, while terrible and tragic, has shown us that we need a leader to represent the United States of America.  We need President Obama.


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