Here’s what the former Massachusetts governor said during a campaign stop in Iowa on August 1.

Romney: …”Did you notice in Lebanon, what Hezbollah did? Lebanon became a democracy some time ago and while their government was getting underway, Hezbollah went into southern Lebanon and provided health clinics to some of the people there, and schools. And they built their support there by having done so. That kind of diplomacy is something that would help America become stronger around the world and help people understand that our interest is an interest towards modernity and goodness and freedom for all people in the world. And so, I want to see America carry out that kind of health diplomacy…”

Crooks & Liars clumsily spun it as an endorsement of universal health care (never mind Hezbollah’s tendency to kill people who disagree with them, a tactic that Michael Moore probably doesn’t even agree with), but it’s a more serious error than merely touting policy that his base wouldn’t approve. Romney wants to be president, but doesn’t seem to understand what the government he would lead actually does.

It was dumb when Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said something very similar a few years ago, and it’s dumb to say it now. To refresh our memories, here’s what Murray said in 2002.

Sen. Patty Murray intended to be provocative when she told a group of high school students terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is popular in poor countries because he helped pay for schools, roads and even day care centers.

“We haven’t done that,” Murray said. “How would they look at us today if we had been there helping them with some of that rather than just being the people who are going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?”

Murray then and Romney now seem to have forgotten that when disaster strikes anywhere in the world, be it an earthquake or a typhoon or a tsunami, it’s the US that sends its military and humanitarian might in to help out. We’re the first to arrive and the last to leave and we do the most work while we’re there, from using our ground pounders to move debris to turning our aircraft carriers into offshore water desalinization plants. Every day, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does more to promote world health than the rest of the world’s governments or terrorists militias combined. If there’s an outbreak of bird flu in Asia or ebola in Africa, the CDC is on it. And then there’s the Peace Corps, which has been doing humanitarian work all over the world for a generation, and private organizations like WorldVision and Samaritan’s Purse that do their own vital humanitarian work in dozens of nations. There is no other country that comes close to America’s charitable work around the world. The majority of the US military’s work even in Iraq and Afghanistan is humanitarian. Since that doesn’t get reported, most Americans don’t know that much of the war effort even in the war zones is humanitarian, but Romney ought to.

We guarantee the peace with our military, we keep the world afloat with our economy and innovation, and we feed the world from our farms and fight disease with our science. These efforts are unparalleled in history. Only ignorance or a serious slip of the tongue could lead any serious person to say otherwise.

The Romney campaign has backed away from his comments, but Gov. Romney’s remarks show an unhealthy ignorance of America’s ongoing humanitarian work around the world. I like the governor, but this was a serious mistake.

Here’s the vid on YouTube if you don’t want the hassle of downloading it from C&L.

(thanks to Chris R.)