I read with interest the column published in this paper on July 4 (“This is Leadership?”) by Dick Gustafson and the letter rebuttal to it (“Remarkable leadership”) published 10 days later by Denny Geraghty. Mr. Gustafson’s column is a long and now all too familiar rant about the political right’s perceived failings of the Obama administration. Included among Obama’s sins are the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, Obamacare, and lest we forget that bete noire of bete noires: Benghazi. Mr. Geraghty’s retort was a reasoned response to Mr. Gustafson’s charges, replete with researched facts about Obama’s numerous successes in reducing the deficit (since 2008) and annual spending (since 2009), improving employment (again from 2009), extricating us from Iraq and Afghanistan, saving the auto industry, and providing the American taxpayer with a $30 billionreturn on our investment in bailing out the financial industry. ( Full disclosure: I am a longtime friend of Mr. Geraghty. But I am not writing to defend his position. He doesn’t need my help. He did a masterful job on his own. I do not know and have never met Mr. Gustafson. I only know from reading his columns in this paper over the years that I don’t like anything he has to say.)
Mr. Gustafson’s obsession with Mr. Obama, as is true of the far right in general, is that he’s a liar.
Recall if you will Congressman Joe Wilson’s ugly shout-out (“You lie”) in interrupting Obama’s State of the Union address in 2009. Their main evidence for this is Benghazi followed closely by perceived lies about the IRS scandal and Obamacare (“You can keep your physicians.”). Benghazi drives the right crazy because they believe the Obama administration deliberately covered up the truth about Benghazi (or what they believe to be the truth), which was that it was a terrorist-led attack that the administration knew about at the time but kept from the American public because they felt it would hurt its image as a force against terrorism in the waning days of the 2012 presidential election. I don’t want to quibble with Mr. Gustafson and his cohorts here. I’m not interested in what the Obama administration knew and when they knew it.
So here it is: The Obama administration lied and covered up the intelligence information they had about the cause of Benghazi because they were afraid it would damage their chances against Mitt Romney. So what? They lied! Grow up! Get over it! Presidents lie! They lie for the same reasons the rest of us lie: Telling the truth is expensive. We lie because we think telling the truth would prevent us from achieving our objectives whatever they may be: Money, fame, employment, college admission, impressing a date, and, yes, getting elected or re-elected to office.
All presidents lie. George (“I cannot tell a lie”) Washington lied; Abraham (Honest Abe ) lied; LBJ lied (likelihood of military success in Vietnam); Ronald Reagan lied (Iran Contra); George H. Bush lied (“Read my lips: No new taxes”); and Bill Clinton, of course, lied (Monica Lewinsky). Who cares? Do you want a Boy Scout in chief or a commander in chief? Do you want an effective, competent leader like FDR or a man of high moral character but real political ineptitude like Jimmy Carter? The day that admitted liar Bill Clinton was impeached his approval rating with the American public (66 percent) was higher than it ever was during the Reagan administration.
No, I’m sorry, Mr. Gustafson, America does not agree with you when you say “What we need is a leader with a moral and ethical backbone.” The Republican Party presented the electorate with that sort of individual in the 2012 presidential election. They rejected Mitt Romney, upstanding moral individual that he was and is, because they saw him as a bumbler and a fumbler. In short an incompetent leader. After George W. Bush they saw no need to go down that road again in such a short period in time. The only truth about Benghazi that matters and should matter is that four people including an American ambassador died that day. They died because of a failure to provide adequate security for them. The administration has admitted such. That is the tragedy of Benghazi. Not a cover-up in the midst of a presidential campaign.
I don’t trust Republicans when they claim to be the party of principles. Principles to paraphrase Samuel Johnson are a bit like patriotism: A refuge for scoundrels. The same might be said for those who so sanctimoniously hide behind their religious beliefs (make that prejudices) or economic faith (free market totally unregulated capitalism).
But if you insist Mr. Gustafson in making sure that the American public gets a president “with a moral and ethical backbone” then let me suggest that your party run Rand Paul and Sarah Palin in 2016. That is if Chris Christie and Rick Santorum are unavailable. My fervent wish for a Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann ticket is sadly, I’m afraid, beyond my wildest dreams. And I promise you Mr. Gustafson that if your party does nominate any of the above I as a liberal Democrat will make a contribution to their campaign. Anything to keep that liar Hilary Clinton from claiming the White House. And I’m also quite sure that any ticket with any of those paragons of virtue on it will have Hilary quivering in her pantsuit.