Protesters clash with police in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo.
Mitt Romney has spent several days blasting U.S. officials who criticized the anti-Islam film that has provoked so many enraged demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. Embassy in Egypt issued a statement -- six hours before protests in Cairo -- condemning "efforts to offend believers of all religions" and "firmly rejecting" the bigoted YouTube video.
This, if we're to believe Romney's own rhetoric, outraged the Republican candidate. Romney said the statement "sympathized" with protestors and issued an "apology for our values," which he considered "terrible." He added that the U.S. embassy "suggest[ed] that there's something wrong with the right of free speech."
For anyone who understands English, it's hard to know how Romney reached these conclusions, but as Benjy Sarlin noted, there's another problem -- in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Romney echoed the same sentiment he condemned.
"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. [...]
"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."
At this point, Stephanopoulos moved on, but I have a follow-up: what's the difference between Romney's condemnation of the bigoted video and the U.S. Embassy's?
By his own reasoning, is Romney sympathizing with Muslim protestors? Is he apologizing for our values and suggesting there's something wrong with the right of free speech?
If the Republican campaign can explain why Romney can denounce a bigoted film but the U.S. Embassy in Egypt can't, it'd certainly help advance the larger conversation.