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Rumsfeld's misguided, self-defeating standards

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When it comes to this week's unrest in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere, it's hard to understand the exact nature of the right's criticism of President Obama. I'm still not altogether sure what it is they think they don't like about the White House's actions.

Some bigoted video gets put on the Internet, which provokes protests in Muslim countries, which may have led some violent opportunists to exploit protests for violent ends. In conservatives' minds, at what point in this scenario did the president make a mistake?

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld -- remember him? -- shed new light on the right's thinking yesterday, arguing that the events in Libya and Egypt were the result of "perceived American weakness."

It's a ridiculous argument, but at least I understand the train of thought. That rascally Obama, after ordering the strike that killed bin Laden, decimating al Qaeda, and helping topple the Gadhafi regime, has signaled American "weakness" abroad, which in turn encourages anti-American protests at our diplomatic facilities. After all, the argument goes, people wouldn't dare protest if they perceived America as strong, right?

This line of attack has a certain child-like charm, which may appeal to those who don't think too much about the details and overlook Rumsfeld's tragic lack of credibility.

But there's another problem: "[T]here were twelve terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities abroad during George W. Bush's tenure -- the most of any president in history -- and eight of those occurred while Donald Rumsfeld was in office."

There were also seven attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities during the Reagan era.

In other words, by Rumsfeld's standards, American embassies and consulates were targeted in years past because, during Ronald Reagan's and George W. Bush's presidencies, foreigners "perceived American weakness."

I realize it's the height of the campaign season and partisans are prone to say silly things, but Republicans really ought to have better talking points than the nonsense Rumsfeld is throwing around.