Mitt Romney jumped the gun with his statement about Obama’s reaction to the heinous assassination of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. His mistake provoked a harsh reaction from his fellow travelers in the GOP wing of the elitist faction. I want to discuss the reasons for his embarrassment in a moment; but first, a word about the assault on the United States that provoked his much-maligned criticism of Obama.
Do people realize how much the fragile peace achievable in the international arena depends on the immunity from harm diplomats are supposed to enjoy? Do they ever pause to think about the people willing to rely on that promise of immunity as they go unarmed into situations where violence is endemic, situations that ordinarily call for military forces, armed to the teeth? We praise the courage of our military veterans, including in that number even those who toiled behind the front lines of combat. How often do we include in that celebration of praise the diplomats who seek peace and pursue it with no arms or armor but the courage it takes to trust, in a time of violence and uncertainty, the promises of those who make it so?
Some may say that Ambassador Stevens’ party was vulnerable to attack because of some extraordinary lapse in the measures taken for their security. The facts may or may not bear them out. But whatever conclusion is eventually warranted in this case, we should not let it detract from the simple truth. Diplomats must sometimes go where heavily armed soldiers tread with great precaution. For the sake of peace, or to secure or save the lives of others, they must go there whether or not security precautions supplement the intangible protections of protocol and international convention.
When violent passions or vicious, conspiratorial intent cause those protections to fail, the dams of sorrow break upon their families as surely as they break upon the families of the heroic dead we lose in combat. But on Veterans Day, the diplomats are never asked to stand at the gatherings that honor those who defend our peace. On Memorial Day their names are not remembered; their families are not proffered whatever comfort our public sorrow and remembrance contributes toward easing their deep, immeasurable loss. Suffice it to say, it should be.
At the very least, we should never add to their burden in the tragic moment of their loss. Whatever the circumstances, death is a tragic recompense for the honorable characters who do their duty for the peace and safety of others knowing full well that the full extent of their courage and decency will be quickly obscured and disremembered in the rush of large events unleashed by their sacrifice.
I have known and served with such people, and counted them as friends. When they have fallen, I have felt how sorrow swells within. Perhaps that’s why I was tempted to add, as others have, to the critical outrage heaped upon Mitt Romney for what appears to have been a cynical effort to exploit, for political advantage, an attack that must be regarded as a blow against our whole nation. I was tempted to decry, as others have, the wretched impulse to see and react to some imagined political opportunity, rather than feel and give voice to the sorrow and outrage of the families and of our whole people.
But then a coldly rational habit of thought (left over, I think, from my own years of diplomatic service) forced me to remember the ultimate cause and circumstance of this new terrorist attack against America. It came on the very day our hearts and minds were focused on that other 9/11 terrorist attack, the one that, for better or worse, has changed the course of our history.
I remembered Obama’s offensive bowed and scraped apologies, delivered in the very heart of the region that has been the world’s chief incubator of such terror. I remembered the feckless policies that reveled in the seething ferment that threw out governments sympathetic to America, and replaced them with regimes rife with the influence and murderous passion of Islamic extremism. I remembered that some of the same voices raised now in open criticism of Mitt Romney, and tacit praise of Obama’s supposedly more “statesmanlike” demeanor, were the very ones that welcomed the “Arab Spring,” regardless of the dismal rain of blood it forecast for the Fall.
Above all, I remembered all the ways in which Obama’s policies have forced me to one inexorable conclusion. He is not a bumbler whose incompetence hurts America. He is a skilled ideologue, whose commitment to the Marxist-Leninist vision of diatribe against America impels him to devise and carry out policies intended to deconstruct the morale and security of our country.
Incompetence, however, was Mitt Romney’s sin. He directed a blow intended to highlight the fact that Obama’s willful weakening of America’s strength and prestige has heightened the vulnerability of our people throughout the world. He intended to point out that this sapping of our defenses has culminated in an assault that boldly challenges the notion that our enemies are any longer intimidated by what was the long arm of our power.
Why did Romney fail in his attempt to make this valid point? I think he failed because the non-ideological pose he must maintain in his campaign means that he will not think through and articulate the terrible consequences of Obama’s ideological blindness. This non-ideological pose leaves Romney struggling to cast everything in terms that contrast Obama’s incompetence with his own supposedly proven competence. (This struggle flawed the generally conservative cast of the GOP platform. The influence of McCain/Romney Republicans led to language that denies the extent to which Islamic fundamentalism predisposes its adherents toward support for and participation in terrorist acts.)
I predict that in the weeks ahead Mitt Romney will again and again run afoul of the reality he is desperate to deny: Obama’s problem is not his competence, but his commitment to an ideology inimical to America’s safety, to America’s prosperity and to the creed that is the essence of America’s identity as a nation.
Romney’s inability to cast the election in terms that focus on Obama’s ideological hostility to America doesn’t arise from some incidental personal quirk or whim. It reflects the globalist anti-nationalism of the “billionaire breakfast” clique whose money power Karl Rove represents. It also reflects the simple fact that, in any effort to defeat Obama on ideological grounds, Mitt Romney will quickly find that he is running against himself. He is haunted by the possibility that Obama will simply point to all the policies, statements and actions Romney was responsible for that implement or smack of the same socialist ideology. Obama will simply ask what vendetta of ambition or prejudice leads Romney and his supporters to find fault with Obama for walking the path Mitt Romney blazed before him.
This is a question that must give pause to many of the sincerely anti-socialist conservatives whose votes Romney must have for victory. If they are still pausing on Election Day, his cause is lost. But there is a strategy for conservatives in November that could safeguard the nation even if Romney finds no way out of the dilemma his socialist record creates. To consider this “Platform Republican” approach, visit my blog, Loyal to Liberty.