The day after the September 11, 2012 attacks on our compounds in Benghazi!, I was very irritated. I was very angry with the mob that stormed our consulate and killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. But I was also really appalled by the behavior of Mitt Romney.

The first thing on the 12th, I put together the following list:

Sequence of Events

1. Gaddafi says he’ll hunt down the terrorists of Benghazi like rats.
2. The United Nations intervenes, led by NATO.
3. Benghazi is saved and Gaddafi is hunted down like a rat.

4. Some fruit-loop makes a stupid YouTube about Mohammed.
5. The Embassy in Cairo realizes trouble is brewing and condemns the fruit-loop’s stupid YouTube about Mohammed.
6. Angry Muslims storm our consulate in Benghazi and kill our Ambassador and three other government employees with a rocket-propelled grenade.
7. Ignoring that 5. came before 6., Mitt Romney issues press release blasting the administration for reacting to the death of our ambassador by sympathizing with the murderers.

I took particular umbrage at the behavior of Mitt Romney, who had issued the press release on September 11, but recognizing the sensitivity of both the day and the tragedy, asked the press to embargo it until midnight. Then he apparently could not stop salivating about the potential of the tragedy to redound to his favor, so he went ahead and issued the press release to the public before midnight.

Also, notice what Romney was condemning. He was condemning the behavior of the State Department officials in Cairo who, sensing they might be about to be overrun by an angry mob that was protesting the “The Innocence of Muslims” YouTube, issued a condemnation of the online movie. Romney was falsely suggesting that this condemnation had taken place after our ambassador was killed and that we had essentially apologized to the people who had murdered him. That was risible enough, but it also shows that even Romney had the two events linked in his mind that morning.

Also note that I had my own facts wrong. Ambassador Stevens wasn’t killed by a RPM, but by smoke inhalation. Facts were in short supply and unreliable in the immediate days after the attack.

By September 15th, I was seething about Romney’s behavior, calling him a “taunting jerk” who lacked all sense of “dignity or decorum.” By October 1st, I was in disbelief that the Romney campaign was chortling with glee at the death of four Americans and predicted that they would get the taste slapped out of their mouths if they continued to politicize the tragedy.

And then came the “Please proceed, governor,” moment in the second debate when moderator Candy Crowley called Romney a lying, liar and Obama just sat there drinking in the “the sweet sweet nector of Mitt’s humiliation.”

YouTube video

That should have been the end of it. The right should have just hung their heads in shame that they had tried to exploit the death of four Americans. But that isn’t what happened, is it?

Instead, they decided to make Benghazi! for the Republican Party what the original 9/11 attacks were for Rudy Giuliani: “There’s only three things they mention in a sentence — a noun, a verb, and Benghazi!”

And, now, they try to turn the tables on us and accuse us of being insensitive about these four men’s deaths. You can see the lengths Nancy Pelosi goes to avoid charges of insensitivity in her letter to Speaker Boehner (pdf) rejecting his proposals for the Select Committee charged with investigating the Benghazi! attacks.

The American people expect us to work together in a fair, balanced and open manner. For the sake of the families of the brave Americans who died in this tragedy, the process must not be politicized.

I look forward to meeting with you as you suggested so that we can find a way forward that is worthy of the sacrifice of our heroes who lost their lives in Benghazi and their families. I am still hopeful that we can reach an agreement. Thank you for your immediate attention.

Sadly, the Republicans’ behavior on Benghazi! has turned the very word into a punch line. But the seeds of this outcome were evident even before the fires were put out at the consulate, when Mitt Romney couldn’t wait even a few hours to publicly accuse the State Department of apologizing to the people who murdered Ambassador Stevens.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at