Republican Debate comments

Posted: February 1, 2008 in america, military, politics, republicans, voting, war, waste

Well, things sure are heating up in the Republican camp! If last night’s debate is anything to go by, we can expect some serious fireworks in the coming days.

Unlike the Democratic race, there’s no clear front runner in the Republican camp. McCain has pulled off some victories recently, enough to give Twit Romney a serious challenge, but neither has taken a decisive enough lead in the polls to be considered a serious contender.

Throughout last night’s debate, the candidates sparred and traded jabs, poking at each other’s record, questioning their abilities and fitness to lead, and generally being fairly nasty to each other. It was kind of refreshing.

Ron Paul, as usual, scored several points by highlighting the futility, unConstitionality and waste of the War in Iraq.

But for me, the most interesting moment of the campaign was this one, when Romney was asked why he’d be better at running the military as commander-in-chief than would Senator McCain. His answer revealed more of his personal character than he’d probably like to admit:

ROMNEY: You know, I’m sure that are those who’d say, you know, to be the commander-in-chief you have to serve in the military. And one of the two great regrets I have in life is I didn’t serve in the military. I’d love to have.

But I don’t believe that you have to have served in the military to be a great commander-in-chief or to be a great foreign policy expert. I think you’re going to see in our foreign policy and in the military, we’re going to face challenges not like the challenges of old, where I’d liken it to playing checkers with the red side and the black side.

It’s more like three-dimensional chess. And you’re going to have to have people of unusual capacity in bringing in the perspectives of the entire world and thinking about how you move your pieces and how you make changes that can strengthen America’s position.

You see, my objective is to keep America the strongest nation on Earth, economically, militarily, and, if you will, from the spirit of our people. I believe I can do that by virtue of a lifetime of experience leading, making decisions.

But, you know, some of our great leaders — look at Abraham Lincoln, was not a military expert, but turned out to be one of the best in the history of this country.

I will now translate.

First of all, he starts by saying he “regrets” not having served. Well, of course he regrets it, now that it’s important to him. Now that having a military record might give him some “street cred” with the troops, he wishes he’d done it. I’m sure these thoughts didn’t enter his head when he was busy making the decision not to serve. I also notice he’s not exactly pushing his sons along the path of national service.

But hey, it’s their choice; we have an all-volunteer force, and citizens have a right not to serve their country. They just shouldn’t be shocked when those who have, question their ability and right to lead.

He then states that to be a great commander-in-chief, one does not need to have served. He’s correct on this point; however, wearing the uniform does give one a perspective that those who have not, lack. It’s the difference between understanding the theory and actually applying it to reality. Service requires sacrifice, and that’s something that Fortunate Son Mitt, and his privileged, cosseted sons don’t clearly understand. I’m sure they’ve heard the term once or twice, and understand it in theory, but when it comes to the real sacrifices and hardships military families and servicemen make, they’re clueless.

Next, he attempts to discuss strategy and foreign policy. This passage is so condescending it’s ridiculous. He almost seems to think military people don’t understand tactics and negotiation. Where does he think people learn it in the first place? Does he really believe a person with military background won’t understand the complexities of foreign policy? Please… spare us, Governor. The only President in the last 16 years who didn’t understand and appreciate such concepts is George W. Bush. Oh, I know he supposedly had military experience. We have pictures of him wearing a uniform. But exactly what he did during his “service” is a mystery. Clearly, it wasn’t anything to do with leadership.

No, military experience isn’t a Constitutional requirement for the office of the President.  But in these times of chaos and universal brouhaha, it certainly helps.  If you’re going to ask men to follow you, wouldn’t it be good to know where they’re coming from first?

Anyway, here’s McCain’s response to Romney’s waffle:

COOPER: I’m going to ask you all for follow-ups on this, but, Senator McCain, I just want to give you an opportunity to follow up on that. Is Governor Romney ready to be a military commander?

MCCAIN: Oh, I’m sure that, as I say, he’s a fine man. And I think he managed companies, and he bought, and he sold, and sometimes people lost their jobs. That’s the nature of that business.

But the fact is — but the fact is we’re at a time in our history — we’re in a time in our history where you can’t afford any on-the- job training. And I believe that my experience and background qualifies me to lead.

And that’s why I’ve gotten the support of four former secretaries of state, two of them in the Reagan administration. That’s why I’ve gotten the support of General Norman Schwarzkopf.

That’s why I’ve gotten the support of over 100 retired Army generals and admirals. Literally every national security expert from the Reagan and other administrations are supporting my candidacy, including the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, my friend, Governor Tom Ridge, who believe that I have the qualities necessary to lead.

Let me be clear:  I don’t like either Romney or McCain.  The War in Iraq has been a huge waste of money and lives, it has divided and shattered my generation and the next, and it has destroyed American credibility at home and abroad.  There is only one honorable way to end it, and that’s to end it.  Anyone talking about “withdrawal with honor”, as Huckabee put it, is just committing us to an open-ended occupation of a country that will increasingly resent and hate us.

But given the choice between these two, it’s clear McCain would be the superior commander-in-chief.  The last thing America’s best and bravest need is a pompous stuffed suit like Romney leading them.

You can read the full transcript of the debate here. 

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