This is an occasion for national unity, not sniping

This would be a good moment to remember the thing about partisan politics stopping at the water’s edge.

I got a release from Lindsey Graham last night — I’m just now getting to it in my email — that quoted the senator as saying the following:

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a leading Republican voice on foreign policy, launched a sharp attack against the Obama administration on Wednesday, saying the president’s lack of leadership would “lead to an explosion in the Middle East.” … The American disengagement, lack of leadership, and leading from behind is leading to uncertainty and doubt on all fronts. … There is no substitute for leadership by the United States and every group within the region is uncertain about who we are and what we believe.”

The thing is, when I watched the accompanying video, for the first few minutes I didn’t hear that sort of tone. Instead, the senator said the sorts of things I would expect a politician who cares about foreign policy to say. He talked about how this should not be allowed to weaken our strong ties to the new democratic leadership of Libya. He stressed that the attack — whether calculated or spontaneous — was the work of a tiny minority who do not reflect our relationship with that country.

He even expressed agreement with what Secretary of State Clinton had to say. And I like that, even though part of it may be the longtime mutual admiration society that Hillary and Lindsey have going.

Then, toward the end, he launched into the GOP talking points about the administration’s alleged failures. About the only thing I might agree with him on is that I wish we were acting more effectively to keep Assad from killing his own people in Syria.

But in his eagerness to criticize, the senator implied, if he did not exactly say, two things he should know are not true:

  1. That somehow the mess of the last couple of days is the administration’s fault.
  2. That the way forward in light of the ongoing “Arab Spring” movement is simpler and clearer than it is.

Given his respectful ties to some of the key people in the administration’s national security team, and the many areas of agreement he has with them, I would think Senator Graham would be hesitant to throw out the people he knows in favor of the uncertainties Romney would bring.

But that’s me engaging in wishful thinking, I guess. Just because Sen. Graham is occasionally an iconoclast, I like to tell myself he can be that all the time. Obviously, I’m not in charge of his re-election in two years…

10 thoughts on “This is an occasion for national unity, not sniping

  1. bud

    I’m not particularly interested in what Lindsey Graham or for that matter Mitt Romney have to say about any of this right now. Seems like they’re just spewing partisan talking points, apparently for some type of political advantage. I can’t for the life of me see how any of this sniping (even if they believed it to be true) could possibly be in the national interest right now. Why don’t they offer some suggestions in private as to how not to “lead from behind”. Otherwise they should shut the f up.

    But what I am interested in is whether POTUS can stay above the fray and exercise both resolve and restraint to help calm the situation down and at the same time go after the murderous perpetrators in Syria. This is a tough one with no easy answers. Thankfully we have a capable man in charge.

    As for Egypt, that situation will probably calm down on it’s own in a few days. No need to stir things up needlessly. Maybe we should reduce the size of the embassy staff as a precaution but otherwise the Egyption situation just seems like a few hot heads getting overly worked up over a ridiculous video. Once they realize how completely nonsensical the whole “15 minutes of fame” nonsense is they will quietly calm down. That is unless we find a way to provoke them as Lindsey and Mitt appear determined to do.

  2. Brad

    I wouldn’t reduce staff. I’d beef it up, particularly the Marine detail, for the protection of the rest of our people. And I’d demand additional security from the host government.

  3. Phillip

    Ugh. Lindsey’s emulating McCain’s path of sullying a once honorable career and reputation, only he wants to get there much faster than McCain, maybe by age 60.

  4. Steven Davis II

    Obama handled this in usual fashion, spending time with Beyonce and Jay Z in Las Vegas attempting to raise money (sounds like it was a failure) rather than dealing with international problems.

    Sounds like the Marines “guarding” the embassy weren’t even issued live ammunition. It’s a difficult fight when you have bullets coming at you and all you have is a glorified club to defend yourself and protect property you’re assigned to defend.

  5. Doug Ross

    “Just because Sen. Graham is occasionally an iconoclast, I like to tell myself he can be that all the time. ”

    Funny how he becomes an iconoclast just about the same time every four years – right before an election. The he flip flops to the “can’t we all get along” Lindsey right after the election.

    He’s a phony political panderer of the highest order. All talk, no action. All to get re-elected and keep the lobbyist money flowing into his campaign’s coffers.

  6. Brad

    Actually, Doug, you have that precisely backwards. He is most assuredly not “a phony political panderer of the highest order.” He is in fact one of the few people in Washington who regularly takes great political risks in order to do the right thing — something that at all times threatens to be his political undoing.

    He has this in common with both John McCain and Joe Lieberman.

    It’s fascinating to me how people hold these men to a higher standard than they would apply to any other politician in Washington, judging them only by the times that they FAIL to show above-and-beyond political courage — utterly ignoring the fact that they are among the few, the very few, who ever show it at all. And THAT is why I respect them.

    What you and others ignore is that Lindsey Graham is a very conservative guy. So yeah, he very often strongly disagrees with President Obama. And there is NOTHING wrong with doing the thing that you hold him in contempt for, which is to emphasize to his constituents the policy positions that he holds in common with them. I want him to do that, because I want him to stay in office, because frankly — given the kinds of choices I’ve seen my fellow South Carolinians make in recent elections — he’s a better senator than we deserve.

    My problem with him in this instance is that I don’t like THIS particular moment for emphasizing those differences with the administration. It’s a time for politics stopping at the water’s edge.

    But I don’t doubt for a moment that he really, truly means what he says. He does have significant policy differences with the president.

    I think what Mitt Romney said was far worse. It didn’t seem based in any sort of well-defined policy difference. It came across as a simple attempt to gain personal advantage out of a terrible situation for our nation. It was not leaderly (if that’s a word).

    But I posted about Graham because I thought maybe y’all were somewhat less likely to know about that, so a discussion of it might add something. There are thousands of places where you can go to talk about Romney.

  7. Steven Davis II

    The Obama administration is trying to get us to believe these attacks are the result of a YouTube video. Please… Does this administration really believe we’re that dumb?

  8. tired old man

    It is disheartening to watch as Graham sacrifices integrity in order to be re-elected in a state that lionizes Jim Deminted, who is the best senator South Carolina never had.

    Jim Deminted epitomizes all that is wrong in our political system, while Graham was more than step in a better direction.


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