The election — a post martem
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By Joe Harrison
As a lifelong football fan from Johnny Unitas’ era in hometown Baltimore, I’m fond of football analogies. When your team comes up short in the “big one,” we all anguish over one or two calls that should have gone the other way.
In politics, there are no red “challenge” flags. As for “booth review,” with a national press corps so “in the tank” for Obama that Saturday Night Live (hardly a center of conservatism) was already spoofing it four years ago, well, our recent election was like the Super Bowl against an opponent who also brought the referees.
236Two hundred thirty-six years ago, our founding fathers stressed the importance of a critical national press to a healthy republic. Where are they now? Once simply left-leaning, they’ve been emasculated at best, active Democrat cheerleaders at worst. The resulting damage to the republic is plain enough to anyone paying attention.
Yet despite it all, as often the case in sports, Team Romney lost the White House by unforced error late in a close contest. Debate Night 3’s ultra-cautious approach there prompted immediate analogies to football’s “Prevent” defense, which sports pundits have long quipped often “prevents” the defender from winning. So it was on November 6.
I think Governor Romney really lost the election the night of Debate 3. Despite 4 years of media spin and cover, voters were dissatisfied and seeking a real alternative. They found him in Debate 1, as reflected in Romney’s dramatic poll “bounce” that followed. Debate 2 was a confused free-for-all, made worse by moderator interference, but largely a draw. Meanwhile the fatal mistakes and ugly cover-up of the Bengazi attack unfolded as Exhibit “B” (“Fast and Furious” is Exhibit “A”) in a conclusive case of governmental ineptitude and dishonesty.
Yet instead of returning to Debate 1's respectful, focused, fact-intensive dissection of our current foreign policy strategies and decisions, Debate 3 Romney went “prevent,” with the predictable results. A candidate whom 80% of Americans voting from Israel recognized as that country’s true friend somehow managed to make the President look like the expert on foreign affairs.
Is this just “Monday morning quarterbacking?” No, Team Romney’s Debate 3 “strategy” struck me as absurd as it unfolded. Post-election it just looks that much worse. It doesn’t take a genius to come up with a sample of so many important things left unsaid. For example:
"Well yes, Mr. President you did use the word "terrorist," if vaguely, in your Rose Garden speech the day after the Bengazi attack, but the next two weeks everyone in your administration blamed the attack on a video that we now know was not the cause; including you in your U.N. speech the following week."
"Yes, you happened to be President when America’s intelligence service located Osama Bin Laden, you correctly authorized his killing. But as you would say, "you didn't build that” (operation), all you had to say was "Yes." Anyone in your shoes (with the apparent exception of Ron Paul) would have done the same.
"In truth, your chronic self-congratulation provoked far more Middle East unrest than an obscure video, as evident from Egyptian demonstrators’ chanting “Obama, Obama we’re all Osamas, now!” Perhaps a few less “victory laps,” especially at your convention just days before the attack, and those victims might still be alive.
"Your administration blamed failure to react and protect on the "fog of war," not knowing "exactly" what was happening on the ground. In the real world, experienced combat commanders know that rapid, decisive response to attack, based on the best information available, is critical. One never knows “exactly” what has happened until afterwards.
With the approach of the 11th anniversary of September 11, amidst continuing regional turmoil, and in the most war-torn Libyan city during the recent conflict there, why would neither you nor your advisors have recognized the possibility for attack, and provided for extra security, particularly when our ambassador specifically requested it?
Were you blinded by, then covering for, your own narrative of having dessimated Al Qaeda? Should our diplomats now fear to serve because your administration won't defend them against politically inconvenient attacks?”
Would these and other challenges to a President so insulated from real questioning have made a difference? As in sports, we’ll never know. We do know the opportunity was there, and not taken. Whether the result is a continued destruction of individual liberty or a hard-learned but valuable lesson remains to be seen.
Joe Harrison is a South Texas attorney and resident of Wilson County.