Conservatives Are Dangerous, And People Need To Know It

Democrats should go on the offensive and tell Americans just how dangerous conservatives are, in terms of the foreign policy of the United States.

As Ezra Klein pointed out last night, Mitt Romney’s intemperate attack on President Obama occurred about 16 hours after that now famous statement by an embassy staffer in Cairo was released. That was plenty of time to mull over the ramifications of his actions. The bottom line is that after all that time to think, he did not think wisely.

And that says something vitally important about him.

The New York Times reported that Romney’s “senior staff” all helped to craft Romney’s damning attack on the Commander-in-Chief. Assembling such a bumbling set of staffers also says something important about Romney.

But I want to focus on what unfortunately is the general conservative posture in moments like what happened on Tuesday—and what continues to happen today—as fanatical Muslims express ridiculously excessive outrage over insults to their religion.

This conservative posture—which infects Romney as much as any other conservative in the country—is dangerous because it is so, well, so unrestrained, so absent of sober judgment. Romney and his brain trust, conservatives all, displayed such a lack of sober judgement on Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning—and it continues.

But I have another example of such unrestrained posturing, this one important because it comes from someone who is supposed to be a thoughtful conservative, an intellectual of high regard, Charles Krauthammer.

However, before I get to that, I want to review the Cairo statement that started all of this nonsense, a statement we all need to remember that was released hours before Egyptians climbed the walls of our embassy:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

Now, make sure you read that statement carefully. You will notice very clearly that it is not an apology for American values, as Romney and conservatives insist to this day. Indeed, it could have been released during, say, the George W. Bush presidency.* No, wait. It could have been uttered by Mr. Bush himself, who said similar things throughout his two terms, like the following from November of 2002:

Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others. Ours is a country based upon tolerance and we welcome people of all faiths in America.

Bush made that statement in response to statements made by evangelicals Jerry Falwell (“I think Muhammad was a terrorist“) and Pat Robertson—now a valued Romney supporter—who said of Muhammad,

This man was an absolute wild-eyed fanatic. He was a robber and a brigand. And to say that these terrorists distort Islam? They’re carrying out Islam!

Personally, I don’t care what Jerry Falwell, who has now met or not met Allah in the hereafter, or Pat Robertson said about Muhammad. Or what either said about Jesus, for that matter. But George W. Bush did care what those two and others said about Islam’s most important prophet because he knew that such things coming from high-profile evangelicals could be used against Americans both here and abroad. He acted responsibly by saying that such views,

do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans.

That part at least George Bush got right as he fought his so-called War on Terror.

But I want to quote what Charles Krauthammer, the brains of conservatism on Fox “News,”  said on Tuesday evening in response to the Cairo embassy statement:

That statement is an embarrassment. That’s a hostage statement. That’s a mob of al-Qaeda sympathizers in Egypt forcing the United States into making a statement that essentially is an apology, on 9/11 of all days! For something for which we are not responsible.

I would issue a statement saying to the mob, “Go to hell.  The way America works, the way democracy works, is that everybody has a right to express themselves, we don’t police our speech, and you are to apologize to the United States for storming an embassy and the violation of the ultimate sacred principle of democracy which is protecting embassies and missions abroad.”

For the U.S. to essentially issue a veiled apology I think is disgraceful.

Now we know where Romney got the idea of attacking Mr. Obama, saying it was,

disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

Like Krauthammer, sitting comfortably in a Fox “News” studio, what American didn’t get outraged over the attacks on our embassy? Who wasn’t profoundly pissed that in Libya four Americans, including our ambassador, were murdered? And who didn’t want to tell the mobs to go to hell?

But don’t we expect more than misinformed bluster from the commentariat? From our political leaders?

The problem is not just that when Krauthammer uttered that feel-good stupidity, he didn’t have all the facts. And the problem isn’t just that he and his colleagues put the facts they did have in the wrong order and mistakenly believed the statement came after the embassy in Cairo was breached.

The larger problem is that since he made that half-baked, testosterone-laden statement, and by now knows the proper chronology of events, he hasn’t changed his cowboy posture. You can Google “Krauthammer apologizes for ‘Go to Hell’ remark” and you won’t find any evidence that he regrets shooting from the hip, jumping to conclusions.

In fact, you will find hits like this:

AWESOME! Krauthammer says he’d tell the Egyptian mob “GO TO HELL”

AWESOME! indeed.

I doubt if Krauthammer ever retracts his remarks, which were based on a falsehood. The record now will be forever muddled in muddled minds because the right-wing propaganda machine will keep it that way for exploitation. These folks make a living off the muddle.

The important thing to know about Krauthammering conservatives, who like to talk all big and tall and tough with outrage, is that few of them actually went overseas and acted on their outrage, acted out their foreign policy fantasies,  when they had the chance. They were, and remain, perfectly content to express their ballsy patriotism within the safety of our shores.

But American voters have to know that if they put these people back in power, if voters opt for knee-jerk diplomacy of the kind Krauthammer and other conservatives—including other conservative intellectuals— have advocated, then they should not only expect that the world will be an even more dangerous place for Americans, they should expect to send their sons and daughters to die in the wars that will follow such stupidity.

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*Speaking of apologies, how about this from May of 2008:

BAGHDAD — President Bush has apologized to Iraq’s prime minister for an American sniper’s shooting of a Quran, and the Iraqi government called on U.S. military commanders to educate their soldiers to respect local religious beliefs.

Bush’s spokeswoman said Tuesday that the president apologized during a videoconference Monday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who told the president that the shooting of Islam’s holy book had disappointed and angered both the Iraqi people and their leaders.

“He apologized for that in the sense that he said that we take it very seriously,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “We are concerned about the reaction. We wanted them to know that the president knew that this was wrong.”

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11 Comments

  1. Bbob

     /  September 14, 2012

    I have noticed, over the years, that those most likely to advocate war have somehow managed to avoid going to war themselves.

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  2. writer89

     /  September 14, 2012

    Apparently not all Republicans support Romney’s bullshit:

    http://thinkprogress.org/security/2012/09/12/840821/republicans-shake-their-heads-romney-obama-libya/

    But others do:

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/09/12/834281/conservatives-fault-all-muslims/

    This is kind of a sanity test, isn’t it?

    Brad

    Like

  3. Well said, Duane. As I’ve said before but with differing words, the choice of foreign policy styles has never been more clear than it is this election cycle. It’s either studied, adult contemplation and consistency or saber-rattling cowboy diplomacy, a.k.a., “ready, shoot, aim”.

    On MSNBC at noon today I saw Andrea Mitchell interview John Huntsman who was the absolute epitome of sober diplomacy and sharp insight into world affairs. He deplored short-term overreactions, albeit without specifically mentioning Romney, and urged emphasis of our long-term principles just as the President has done and is doing. And then at the end of the interview, she asked him whom he supports in the race and he said with a diplomatic straight face, Mitt Romney, because of the economy.

    Then she asked Huntsman how often he talks to Romney about foreign affairs. His answer was telling. “Never.”

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    • I saw Huntsman twice and I must say I was disappointed in his response, which I found painfully generic. It’s as if he wasn’t actually talking about Romney, but some faceless, nameless candidate.

      Until honorable people like Huntsman are willing to name names, then I’m afraid the GOP will remain what it is today, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

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  4. Treeske

     /  September 14, 2012

    Huntsman’s responded once the same question about supporting Romney because they’re related ( both are descendants of one of the original LDS prophets but from different wives ) but, in the voting booth?

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    • You enlightened me on the very distant cousins Romney and Huntsman, as well as W. Bush, for God’s sake. But then I suppose if you go back far enough, all of us crawled out of the sea together!

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  5. Kabe

     /  September 15, 2012

    Under Krauthammer’s judgement, I wonder how religious conservatives would feel if Islamists wanted to tell Joplin to go to Hell over the recent burning of the Mosque here? I wonder if they would agree if Islam called for bombing the town in Wisconsin that was the site of the recent shooting there?
    I think a better plan for the middle east would be to just stay out because we will never change a thing there and it is arrogant to think we ever will. Those that want a religious war can do it themselves with their own resources and family members.

    KABE

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    • I think you will find that most of those local Christians who supported the Muslims here, after the Mosque was apparently torched, were not the kind that would attend, say, Values Voter summits and the like, nor probably find Charles Krauthammer all that appealing.

      Most seemed to be from old, mainline Churches, which, in my experience, tend not to be so dogmatic and hostile to the faith of others.

      As for staying out of the Middle East, I’m afraid we can’t, as oil price stability (what there is of it) depends on us, no matter that we don’t get much oil through the Strait of Hormuz or from Arab countries. Oil is still subject to global pricing and any disruption would cost us dearly.

      That is why there is a dire need for alternative energy sources.

      Duane

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  6. ansonburlingame

     /  September 15, 2012

    To all,

    As events continue to unfold it is clearer now why the statement was released by the American Embassy in Cairo. It was an attempt to forestall the violence that was KNOWN in advance to be headed that way. The protests and ultimate violence and violation of our embassy were known by the Egyptiam government and thus our embassy in advance. Yet look what happened.

    The embassy statement was like trying to reverse a hurricane with a hand held fan. The IMPLICATION of the embassy statement was “we in America screwed up by…..”.

    Now try to stand before an angry mob to turn it aside with such rhetoric!

    Bottom line was the embassy statement was ineffective to prevent violence and ultimately death to Americans in Libya and NO OTHER statement was made as the violence and death prevailed until much later, except for the GOP candidate for President.

    Hell the President went to sleep not understanding what was going on and then flew out of town to campaign the next day, again without a STRONG statement that AMERICA WILL NOT TOLERATE that kind of “crap” from any government sponsered “crap”.

    The Muslim Brotherhood was instigating such mobs and the Muslim Brotherhood now controls Egyptian police and military responses that ALLOWED the violence to prevail. And NO ONE in American leadership positions said a word against such “crap”. The President obviously “slept on the matter” and still did nothing when he woke up other than go on a campaign junket.

    The left glorifies the pictures of the president and SecState watching the raid to kill OBL and take great credit for those scenes.

    Well where are the pictures of the President and Sec State watching TV out of Egypt and Libya while Americans are being killed and our embassies overrun? Was the WH sitiuation room even up and running while American dipolmats were being sodomized and killed?

    Kabe has it right in my view above. NO ONE is calling for military action in the middle east today against the mobs, no one. I wrote several months ago that we cannot impose our political values on Egypt, only Egyptian can impose their chosen values on each other.

    BUT, that does NOT mean we should support the “new government” in Egypt in any way, with money, dipolmacy, even “trade” or business. WE KNOW what the Muslim Brotherhood has stood for for 80 years. To expect those folks to change their own values, long held and expressed values is a pipe dream and we should say, officially exactly that.

    We, the American people, believe your radical Muslim Brotherhood values SUCK (but in diplomatic terms) and we will NOT accept such values as a basis for governing your people as well even if they choose such values.

    That is not a call to war however. It is simply saying the same thing we said agains Soviet Communism for 50 years!!!!

    In my view Obama got it dead wrong in Cairo in 2009. The basic human values that bind all humans have NOT effectively countered the forces that divide the Arab and American worlds and they never will, in my view. Yet our whole approach in our foreign policy throughout the Arab Spring has been based on the HOPE that such binding values, human values would prevail.

    Well go watch TV to see the results today!!

    Anson

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