Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dumb, Dumber, And Dumbest – What Is The Republican Party Doing?

What the heck is wrong with the Republicans these days? The once grand old party of Lincoln that had vision and fire is now floundering with series of miscues, inappropriate comments, and actions unbecoming of a representative of the people of the United States.

To start, here is President Bush doing his open-mouth-insert-foot foreign policy move when he said on May 2: “So, for example, just as an interesting thought for you, there are 350 million people in India who are classified as middle class. That's bigger than America. Their middle class is larger than our entire population. And when you start getting wealth, you start demanding better nutrition and better food. And so demand is high, and that causes the price to go up.”

What an insensitive thing to say. No wonder the Indians are upset. Instead of accepting them into prosperity and encouraging them to aid the less fortunate, Bush blames them for causing the food prices to go up.

Not to let someone else out do him, a dumber Bush moment was in Israel when he addressed the members of the Knesset on May 15: “Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

OK, that ‘Nazi’ quote was made by William Edgar Borah, a Republican Senator of Idaho. Perhaps Bush identifies with stubborn and headstrong person that Borah was, traits that Bush has exhibited during his Administration. Moreover, the quote was highly inappropriate in such a setting as the Knesset.

Since 2002, Bush has been aiming comments like this toward North Korea and Iran, two of three nations in the axis of evil: “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States.”

Since then, Bush is negotiating with North Korea and sending them food aid. Sending aid to a rogue country that professes to have nuclear weapons; why are we negotiating with and sending aid to North Korea while posturing with Iran? One of the two key arguments about Iran is that it has weapons of mass destruction. If this is true, then should we not project the same posture with North Korea?

The second of two key arguments is that Iran supports and sponsors terrorism. OK, then, using this argument, we should be including Syria in the “axis of evil.” After all, our own State Department had labeled Syria as a security threat: “Syria remains a security concern not just because of terrorism, but also because of its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.” Moreover, Syria “has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since the list's inception in 1979.”

Why should we not negotiate with Iran if we are willing to force Syria to peace negotiation through legislation and hold talks with North Korea? Even the U.S. Military is suggesting that we negotiate with Syria and Iran to bring peace to Iraq. A November 2007 memo from the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College recommends that the U.S. negotiate: “A diplomatic option involving Syria and Iran appears to be worth exploring if done within the context of a broad regional initiative that includes our regional friends and allies as well as our adversaries.”

What is the deal with the double standard? Perhaps someone should remind Bush of his own statement on negotiating with terrorists and radicals. On January 10, 2008, Bush said the following, after meeting with President Abbas.

On negotiation: “Achieving an agreement will require painful political concessions by both sides.”
On negotiation with Terrorists: “On the Palestinian side that includes confronting terrorists and dismantling terrorist infrastructure.” And “No agreement and no Palestinian state will be born of terror.”

President Nixon flew to China in 1972 and met with Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou En Lai in Beijing and, later that year, he went to Moscow and negotiated with Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union on the SALT I treaty. This was a surprise since Nixon was avowed anti-communist and China and Soviet Union were the enemies, the then axis of evil. The U.S. and the Soviet Union fought each other through proxy battles in the Middle East during the Yom Kippur War and the U.S. and China fought each other through proxy battles in Vietnam.

President Regan called Soviet Union the “Evil Empire” but met with Mikhail Gorbachev, the General Secretary of the Soviet Union multiple times to conclude the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Even President George H. Bush (a.k.a. Bush senior) favored diplomatic solutions with Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Even after Iraq invaded Kuwait, he was still willing to negotiate with Iraqis.

Perhaps, President Bush should have listened to his dad a bit more: “Whose life would be on my hands as the commander-in-chief because I, unilaterally, went beyond the international law, went beyond the stated mission, and said we're going to show our macho? We're going into Baghdad. We're going to be an occupying power — America in an Arab land — with no allies at our side. It would have been disastrous. We don't gain the size of our victory by how many innocent kids running away — even though they're bad guys — that we can slaughter. ... We're American soldiers; we don't do business that way.”

Now, we come to the dumbest Republican moment: Mike Huckabee. Upon hearing a loud bang during his speech to the NRA, Huckabee quipped: “That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He's getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he -- he dove for the floor.” (Click here for the video.)

Huckabee is a Southern Baptist Minister. As a man of faith, there is no excuse for such a comment. Even if he had just said “Obama tripped off a chair,” it would have been in very bad taste as it insinuated that Obama was standing on a chair. Now, why would anyone be ‘standing’ on a chair? Was Huckabee insinuating that Obama is uncivilized and therefore standing on a chair? Or was it more insidious?

What’s with the comment about aiming a gun at him and having him diving for the floor? Any reasonable person would dive, run, duck, or do everything possible to avoid a gun pointed at said person. Why would a person be aiming a gun at Obama in the first place? Is that a statement that a man of God would make? If you see the video, Huckabee’s comments came out very naturally. There was no hesitation on his part to comment on the sharp sound at Obama’s expense.

Now, in politics, one can sling mud about an opponent. That’s acceptable. If Huckabee said something along the lines of “That’s Obama slamming the door on American’s right to carry guns”, then Huckabee would have won a very savvy political battle while slinging mud at Obama.

Mr. Huckabee, for a person who has a sharp mind and wits, to have said what you did is inexcusable. Perhaps, sir, you should re-read Leviticus 19:18.

NOTE: I had a difficult time choosing between the “DUMBER” moments since Mr. Bush has offered up a lot of them. However, his Nazi comment won out over his ‘I gave up golf to show my respects for the families of fallen soldiers.’ This is only because his comment about giving up golf was made some time ago. (Keith Olbermann has a great commentary on this. Click here for the YouTube video)

Have a great weekend!

Ed Kim
Practical Risk Manager

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