In the days following last month's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, Republicans slowly coalesced around a specific talking point: it's President Obama's fault because he didn't project enough "strength" in the Middle East and North Africa. There would be no similar violence under a President Romney, a spokesperson said, because Muslim protestors would "respect American resolve."
It's always been a deeply silly argument, but it's also an oddly self-defeating criticism from the right given the number if attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad during the Bush/Cheney era. Adam Serwer took this further, documenting the number of attacks per president over the last 40 years.
From Adam's analysis:
Having Ronald Reagan in office didn't mean an end to attacks on US diplomatic targets. Despite Reagan's refrain of "peace through strength," several high-profile attacks on US diplomatic facilities occurred on his watch, including the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, by Islamic militants. Twice. According to the Global Terrorism Database compiled by the University of Maryland National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), attacks on American diplomatic targets actually rose during Reagan's term -- before beginning to subside in the mid-1990s.
"That follows the trend of terrorism generally," says Erin Miller, a research assistant at START who manages the Global Terrorism Database. "In the early 1990s there's a drop-off worldwide in terrorism against pretty much all target types." Miller cites the collapse of the Soviet Union, and a subsequent wane in leftist terrorism as one possible explanation for the downturn beginning in the mid-1990s.
The decline is probably not because terrorists were intimidated by Bill Clinton more than they were by George H.W. Bush.
I don't imagine facts like these will persuade conservatives to revisit their talking points, but they should.