IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE TIME YESTERDAY
Watch today. A 7-minute overview (skip the second half if pressed for time) that reminds us what a really fine job the President has done beginning to lift the country out of the Republican ditch. (Those of you who viscerally disagree: please watch the video and THEN tell us why.)
IF YOU’RE MITT ROMNEY . . .
. . . then you do viscerally disagree, or at least have to pretend to. Under your leadership the stock market would not just have doubled by now — it would have tripled. Under your leadership, we would not only have saved Detroit, GM would once again lead the world in car sales (oops — it already does). Under your leadership, we would not only have added private sector jobs for 25 consecutive months, you would have worked the same jobs magic you did as governor of Massachusetts (where, oops, your state ranked 47th out of 50). Under your leadership, you would not only have killed Osama Bin Laden and decimated Al Qaeda, you would have told everyone it was a no-brainer.
Which brings us to this by James Fallows of The Atlantic:
‘Even Jimmy Carter’
By James Fallows
Apr 30 2012, 5:42 PM ET Mitt Romney informs us that the raid that took out Osama bin Laden one year ago was no big deal, because “even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.”
Necessary disclosure: I worked for Jimmy Carter and admire his intentions, his character, and many of his achievements, although I am not usually considered an uncritical booster of his record as president.
But let’s remember:
1) Jimmy Carter is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who spent ten years in the uniformed service of his country. As far as I can tell, this is ten years more than the cumulative service of all members of the Romney clan. Obviously you don’t have to be a veteran to have judgments about military policy or criticisms of others’ views. But when it comes to casual slurs about someone else’s strength or resolve, you want to be careful, as a guy on the sidelines, sounding this way about people who have served.
2) Jimmy Carter did indeed make a gutsy go/no-go call. It turned out to be a tactical, strategic, and political disaster. You can read the blow-by-blow in Mark Bowden’s retrospective of “The Desert One Debacle.” With another helicopter, the mission to rescue U.S. diplomats then captive in Teheran might well have succeeded — and Carter is known still to believe that if the raid had succeeded, he would probably have been re-elected. Full discussion another time, but I think he’s right. (Even with the fiasco, and a miserable “stagflation” economy, the 1980 presidential race was very close until the very end.)
But here’s the main point about Carter. Deciding to go ahead with that raid was a close call. Carter’s own Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, had opposed the raid and handed in his resignation even before the results were known. And it was a daring call — a choice in favor of a risky possible solution to a festering problem, knowing that if it went wrong there would be bad consequences all around, including for Carter himself. So if you say “even Jimmy Carter” to mean “even a wimp,” as Romney clearly did, you’re showing that you don’t know the first thing about the choice he really made.
3) Precisely because of the consequences of Carter’s failure, Obama was the more daring in making his go/no-go decision. That’s the case I argued last year, and nothing I’ve learned since then changes my view. As a college student, Obama had seen a marginally popular Democratic president come to ruin because he approved a helicopter-based secret mission into hostile Middle Eastern terrain. Obama went ahead with a helicopter-based secret mission into nominally “allied” territory, also with huge potential for trouble if things had gone wrong.
4) And while the Osama killing reflected a decade’s worth of intelligence and effort from people of both parties, and of no party, it happened on Obama’s watch. Is there any doubt that if it had happened on Bush’s, or on a President John McCain’s, it would have been the centerpiece of every political speech and commercial? Was there a single speech in the Republicans’ 2004 convention — in New York — that did not begin and end with a reference to 9/11, or the removal of Saddam Hussein?
So: obviously the Administration will want to remind voters that Osama bin Laden is gone, and obviously the Republicans will want to minimize the political significance of that fact. All fine. But not “even Jimmy Carter.” I hope that the crack was a scripted attack line, rather than being yet another spontaneous glimpse of the way Mitt Romney feels and thinks. “Even” Jimmy Carter made a daring choice, and paid the price.
IF YOU KNOW FOLKS IN NORTH CAROLINA
Send them this Charlotte Observer editorial. It makes a beautiful case for voting NO on Amendment One Tuesday.
. . . A few weeks ago, House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius) said something both sad and wise. He said he thought Amendment One will pass on May 8, but it’ll be overturned 20 years from now because the next generation will be more tolerant of gay marriage. Tillis wasn’t courageous enough to actually oppose the amendment – he voted to put it on the ballot – but he was brave enough to say out loud what seems obvious to me, and to anyone who looks at history.
We waste an awful lot of time fighting some of the freedoms we were founded on.
But freedom has a solid won-loss record. And no matter what happens on May 8, when our children and grandchildren look back on it all, this whole debate will make us look silly and small.
I suspect that, in God’s eyes, we already do.”