The controversy over the statement from the U.S. embassy in Egypt, hours before a mob invaded the consulate in Benghazi, Libya. and killed four people, including the U.S. ambassador, continues to fester, and more than a few people aren’t sure why.
“I think most Americans would look at that and say this is not the appropriate response when your embassy was assaulted when the American flag is taken down and two Islamic flags put up over American territory,” Sen Rob Portman of Ohio told CBS this morning in an appearance that had to leave people wondering if politicians have the ability to say, “whoops, my bad.”?
Give some credit to the questioner for CBS News who pointedly said, “as you know,” before pointing out that Portman’s timetable was completely wrong — the statement from the embassy came before there were any attacks.
That’s when Portman said he didn’t know that, which brings up the question, “why not?” How can a U.S. senator, more than 24 hours after the statement was released, still not know what he’s talking about?
He could’ve read the Wall Street Journal’s website, which published the timeline of events at noon yesterday. So did NBC. So did The Atlantic. And so did the National Journal.
Roger Ebert asks on his blog today, “which parts (of the statement) would you disagree with? Why?”
Sentence One: One-quarter of the earth’s population is Muslim, including many Americans. Yes, their feelings can be hurt by a crude attack on the Prophet. I would go so far as to suggest those who made the trailer hoped to hurt their feelings. Why else, when their original effort failed to attract attention, did they pay to have it translated into Arabic, so it could be understood in nations where the box office appeal of the so-called film would be non-existent? The only purpose must have been to hurt feelings.
Sentence Two: True. Sincere. Heartfelt.
Sentence Three: I’ll repeat it. “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy.” This expresses one of the fundamental founding principles of our nation.
Sentence Four: The statement rejects the actions of the mysterious people responsible for posting the trailer and the having it translated into Arabic.
“The statement said, at its start, ‘we apologize,'” Portman told CBS this morning.
Shockingly, no journalist on the set stopped him to say, “no, it doesn’t say any such thing.”
Here’s the statement:
“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 Sept. 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.”
“It’s not all that complicated,” Portman insisted.
That one he got right.