In many speeches and interviews leading up to his presidency, then-Senator Barack Obama regularly used the death toll resulting from America’s Middle East engagements as a campaign talking point. Why does that matter? Because the president’s campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt accused Romney of making a “political attack” as America was “confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya.”
Consider Obama’s past op-ed for the New York Times:
“I believed it was a grave mistake to allow ourselves to be distracted from the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban by invading a country that posed no imminent threat and had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. Since then, more than 4,000 Americans have died”
Senator Barack Obama
July 14, 2008
And his speech on Iraq in March of 2008 :
Nearly four thousand Americans have given their lives. Thousands more have been wounded.
Candidate Obama even brought the death toll up in the 2008 presidential debates:
Wednesday was a different story, however. The president severely criticized Mitt Romney for attacking the Obama administration’s response to the attacks. The media was right behind, as the New York Times notes:
Pundits called it “craven” and a “Lehman moment,” alluding to Senator John McCain’s fumbled handling of the collapse of Lehman Brothers that helped sink his 2008 campaign.
MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell berated a Romney spokesperson over the politicizing of American deaths, asking bluntly: “Does it seem to be injecting politics into a national tragedy?”
John Podhoretz hit back, writing in the New York Post:
This was an effort — not entirely conscious — to make it illegitimate for Romney to criticize the president’s foreign policy at a moment when foreign policy has suddenly taken center stage. But that’s exactly when such a debate should take place — because it’s when the public will actually pay attention.
The point, particularly given the president’s own double standard, is a good one.