The fair way to interpret what Romney told Stephanopoulos today is to use Romney’s own language.
Mitt Romney condemned the anti-Muslim film that incited the deadly attacks in Libya and Egypt, and used language that is awfully similar to the US embassy statement that Romney, Fox News, and a slew of Republicans have been calling “an apology.”
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the film that seems to have sparked all this, the Innocence of Muslims film? Secretary Clinton today said she thought it was disgusting. How would you describe it?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, I haven’t seen the film. I don’t intend to see it. I you know, I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it. Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve seen General Martin Dempsey call Pastor Jones to say, “Please don’t promote this film.” You think that’s a good idea?
MITT ROMNEY: I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think him making it, promoting it showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don’t think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment– the good judgment– not to be– not to offend other peoples’ faiths. It’s a very bad thing, I think, this guy’s doing.
Now here’s the US Embassy statement that Romney, and Fox and the GOP, called apologizing to terrorists:
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
— Embassy statement, issued 6 a.m. EST, some six hours before the attack.
So let’s compare:
US embassy: “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims… We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
Romney: “I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment– the good judgment– not to be– not to offend other peoples’ faiths.”
Romney just said exactly the same thing that the embassy did, but Romney went one more step. He said that you should abuse the First Amendment. Remember, Republicans were upset that the embassy didn’t DEFEND the First Amendment. Romney, went one step further and accused the filmmaker of abusing it. So there are moral limits on the First Amendment, Romney says. So is Romney saying the violence was justified? Well, he’s certainly suggesting that the filmmaker doesn’t have clean hands here.
This is beyond belief. If anything, Romney’s statement is “worse” than the US embassy statement, because Romney made clear that there are moral limits to the First Amendment.
Under Romney’s definition, and Fox’s and GOP Chair Reince Priebus, Mitt Romney just apologized to the folks who killed our ambassador.
Just wait a few hours, Romney is going to be backtracking on this entire thing.