Mitt Romney got the capital of Libya wrong in his opportunistic statement this morning criticizing the President about his handling of the attacks against the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Romney referred in his statement to the “embassies” and particularly to “our embassy at Benghazi, Libya.” He made the mistake three times, so it wasn’t just a slip of the lip.
Any first year international relations student knows that our diplomatic offices in the capital are “embassies,” and our offices in cities that are not the capital are “consulates.”
This means that Romney either had no idea what the capital of Libya was when he said it was Benghazi (it’s Tripoli, obviously), or he had no idea what the difference was between “embassies” and “consulates,” which is so basic Diplomacy 101 that it’s frightening that Mitt Romney wants to be commander in chief in four months and had no idea about the difference.
This may strike you as a little nitpicky — and it would be if we were talking about the average person. But foreign policy wonks don’t make that mistake. And let’s you know how many foreign policy wonks looked at Romney’s statement before he laid it out — i.e., somewhere in the neighborhood of zero. That’s how important Team Romney believes foreign policy to be.
Recently, the Romney campaign dismissed foreign policy as a “shiny object,” a trifle, a mere bagatelle.
“It doesn’t surprise me that they’re raising foreign policy because it’s another distraction from the administration’s terrible economic record,” Robert O’Brien, a Romney foreign policy adviser, told BuzzFeed. “They’re going from one shiny object to the next.”
Then O’Brien, showing the Romney campaign’s ability to make boneheaded statements that would be hilarious if not so serious, laid out Romney’s foreign policy chops:
“The governor is an extraordinarily well-traveled businessman, he lived overseas as a young man, he speaks French, he understands the world and he’s written extensively about foreign policy and national security. The idea that he’s this naive guy at 65 years old, given his experience heading the Olympic Winter Games and everything else, I just don’t think that’s going to play.”
Mitt speaks French and has opinions and once put together an event — in Utah — that foreign people attended. Clearly, he’s Madeline Freakin’ Albright. Real serious people know that all this foreign policy hoo-ha is just a “shiny object” that bad politicians use to distract from the economy — which is the only important thing a president ever deals with.
Roger Simon again:
[W]hen news came about the breaching of the security wall around our embassy in Egypt and the terrible killing of our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans in Benghazi, I’ll bet you had the same thought I did: “If only we had a well-traveled businessman in the White House! If only we had a guy who speaks French! If only we had a guy who could use his deep understanding of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics and apply those lessons to Libya and Egypt, then I would feel safer tonight!”
As I said, one does not know whether to laugh or cry.
As the smoke clears over this whole debacle, one thing is clear; Mitt Romney takes foreign policy as seriously as he takes global warming.