It’s Sunday and I should be obsessed about my Dallas Cowboys – (will they go 2-0?) instead I find myself fulminating over the cowboys running for the highest office in the land.
“Bin Laden is Dead, GM is Alive,” Vice President Biden’s bumper sticker rationale for reelecting President Obama always struck me as crass and insulting but never more so than over the past few days. Killing Bin Laden is not a foreign policy.
Equally unsettling was Governor Romney’s rush to exploit the crisis in Egypt and Libya, behaving more like Chuck Schumer, than well – Chuck Schumer.
What is wrong with American politics where we spike the ball on meting out revenge and can’t take a break from the 24-7 news cycle long enough to respect America’s real interests, America’s real heroes?
Are our leaders that intemperate?
The unspeakable killing this past week in Libya of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans reminded me of the uncomfortable feeling that creeped in when celebrations and self congratulations political and otherwise broke out over the killings of Bin Laden and Qaddafi.
It’s impossible to mourn the death of these two truly evil maniacs under any circumstance – and yet it’s also difficult to celebrate.
Bin Laden’s death was just and long overdue. We followed him to “the gates of hell” for closure (or at least an attempt at it) and to demonstrate to other would be murderers that if you kill Americans we will find you and bring you to justice. But revenge, while often just, is not an attractive thing – it doesn’t make us feel better about ourselves. Furthermore revenge is not an emotion we expect our leaders to celebrate, we expect more temperance.
Qadaffi’s death would seem to be long over due as well, although it remains unclear, even more so today, what American interests were served in its pursuit. Since his death, the Vice President has held up Qadaffi’s overthrow as “model for how America should work in the world” and boasted, “we spent only $2 billion without losing a single life, and he’s (Qaddafi) dead.”
The sick truth is Qaddafi was hunted down and killed by the same kind of murderous thugs that he was in life. Qaddafi was tortured, sodomized and later used as a photo prop for the killers who proudly posed with his corpse. The juxtaposition of the images of Ambassador Stevens dead body and that of Qaddafi’s both being dragged through the chaos of Libya is haunting.
Is this new “model” something to boast about?
As for Governor Romney, notwithstanding some of the conservative glitterati that were just giddy to see him engage the President forcefully, the timing of his criticism was sad and unfortunate. There are more important things than campaigning, even when this is the most important election of our lifetime. The death of the Ambassador and his colleagues demands more respect, restraint and temperance. We especially demand it of those who would be President.
Ironically, Governor Romney’s failure was also one of commonsense. While Romney is absolutely right to criticize the President’s feckless foreign policy, timing matters. There is an old axiom in politics, when events are unfolding that hurt your opponent, shut-up, step back and let them unfold. Instability, tragedy and attacks on unprepared embassies, on the anniversary of September 11th of all days, in and of itself are an indictment of Obama’s disengaged, disinterested foreign policy.
We are only in the third quarter of this game, there is still a long way to go in the 2012 Presidential election and it’s hard to predict that a more temperate approach to our politics will emerge – but we can hope.