The current situation in the Arab world is certainly complicated, but it seems to come down to this: crazy Arab Muslims getting worked up by crazy white American Christians, and the other way around. No one in mainstream America, of course, takes this nutty pastor Terry Jones seriously, and my guess is that many Arabs are aware of this fact. The negotiation of a cultural, social, and historical terrain of this complexity requires seriously considered diplomacy. But because a certain candidate is behind in the polls, got no bump from his convention, and is desperately looking for anything that might work, a major national and international blunder was made. We are talking about his controversial statements and not about how to solve the situation.
There are a lot of problems with Romney's reaction to the U.S. consulate attacks, but the most straightforward one may be that it burns away time his campaign didn't have. We're now going to spend at least one news cycle — and probably more — analyzing and responding to Romney's incendiary statement, and the issue will surely carry through to the Sunday shows this weekend. When you're trailing in a presidential election with eight weeks to go, you can't afford to spend one of those weeks defending a provocative statement that you didn't have to make in the first place, especially when you were already on the defensive on national security.
Libya is not a playground. The Arab world is in the process of major cultural changes. The last thing you want is a man who can't keep a cool head when the heat is on.