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“Sad and Pathetic”: Dividing America in a Time of Crisis

September 13, 2012

Many years ago, in a state of frustration, a foreign ambassador said to me in exasperation: “The problem with the [Bush] administration is that they want a foreign policy without foreigners.” He explained: they have a foreign policy that sees the contours of international crises through the narrow lens of ignorance (and perhaps arrogance) about people of other cultures.

After watching the last few days unfold, I think it is now clear that this can be said of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Romney showed us his true colors when responding to the tragic events in Libya and Egypt. Just as he failed to thank or mention the sacrifice of the veterans at the GOP convention in Tampa, in the last few days he has shown a startling lack of compassion. His first response to the tragedy in Libya was a political attack on President Obama, not an expression of regret and condolences to the families of those who died in the violence, including United States Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Just as he forgot to devote speech time to Afghanistan and Iraq in Tampa, since Tuesday he has revealed just how indifferent and uninformed he is on the political complexities of the Middle East—but it didn’t stop him from making impetuous comments before the facts were in. It is also possible that he knowingly misled the public about the sequence of events, to bolster his opportunity for his personal attack.

Credit must be given to the many Republican leaders who chastised Governor Romney for his inappropriate remarks. It is a heartening sign that some in the GOP are finally acknowledging publically that attacks on the president, in such a tragic setting, are going too far. Despite this, other key GOP figures defended candidate Romney’s claim that Obama does not defend American values and that the administration sympathized with those “who waged the attacks.” Former Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared that Romney was right and that Obama projected American weakness. Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, doubled down by tweeting: “Obama sympathizes with the attackers in Egypt. Sad and Pathetic.”

What is truly sad, and perhaps equally pathetic, is that one of our major political parties cannot move past a stale formula for uniting its ranks. Just before the election in 2008, I wrote a piece for this blog called “The Demons in Our Midst: Political Fear Mongering and the Coming Election,” which focused on the personal smears directed at Obama—along with the power and commercial gain that comes from promoting fear. Read it and you will be struck by how little has changed in four years.

Romney’s irresponsible departure from the traditional expressions of national solidarity in a time of crisis has made America less safe. Divisive rhetoric, personal slams, and corrosive politics around sensitive security issues – not the denunciation of bigotry – are what really weaken America. It has also raised that prospect that we could soon have another administration with a foreign policy that doesn’t know or understand foreigners.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. davidrier rier permalink
    September 13, 2012 4:43 pm

             Bravo Susan! When we rode out the vagaries of Sam Beardsley`s spanish 2 together, I respected your balanced and quiet compassion towards others regardless of their backgrounds. I am now equally impressed that you embrace the wisdom of your Grandfather.                                                                     David Rier                                                                    Westtown  `71

    ________________________________

  2. mickey edwards permalink
    September 13, 2012 5:24 pm

    i’m beginning to become very concerned about romney’s judgment and what appears to be a willingness to say almost anything, and to adopt almost any position, that he thinks might increase his chances to win the election. strangely enough, since it’s possible that he could actually win, i’d be more comforted if i thought he really doesn’t believe what he’s saying and if elected would be both more thoughtful and more principled, but how can we be sure of that? he seems more concerned about the sale than the product.

  3. PAUL J. HANSEN permalink
    September 13, 2012 5:32 pm

    YOU HAVE SAID IT ALL, UNFORTUNATELY IT SHOULD NOT HAVE TO BE SAID!!

    PAUL J. HANSEN

  4. September 13, 2012 6:16 pm

    Dear Ms. Eisenhower:

    I am shocked that you have attacked Romney as dividing America, when our president is NOT supporting the will of the citizens of our country. “Supposedly” the “demonstrations” by Muslim radicals are due to an “online video” which has NOTHING to do with our government, its political positions or ANY other connection to America’s international policies. Thousands of US Americans over 65 years old “understand” that America has freed more countries from dictatorships and oppression than any other country in the world. What is “Sad and Pathetic” is that “mankind” throughout the world no longer abides by TRUTH and integrity and such countries do not respect freedom of the people.

    Muslims are a massive “growing” worldwide religion, fine! Why is no one ASKING the Worldwide Muslim Religious organization to “manage” their radical sector? Catholicism had its long difficult time with child abuse. Its correction eventually came from within, from Priests, Cardinals and eventually the Vatican. Why are governments worldwide needed to babysit irrational “people” who are NOT held responsible for their actions? Why did nobody demonstrate about the fact that these “antagonized radicals” destroyed our American flag, because we are tolerant to stupidity. There is no reason that America should ever have to apologize for its belief in our Constitutional freedoms. We are the largest country in the world of “diversified races and religions”, what country or “group of radicals” has the right to speak against this?

    If you are to speak the truth, your statement, “Dividing America in a Time of Crisis” is a “participation” of two halves. President Obama and Governor Romney, and hopefully “they will both” lend an ear to Americas people but I would not be optimistic. Our airwaves are FILLED with unqualified talking heads erroneously influencing our great land!

    Gary Duarte, Sparks, Nevada

  5. Cynthia Hoskin permalink
    September 13, 2012 11:10 pm

    Susie, you always get it right — a brave and honest woman from one of America’s best families, one that has always stood for integrity, a rare commodity in today’s world.

  6. Tony DuPuis permalink
    September 14, 2012 3:18 am

    Once again Susan… Truth well spoken!!!

    One would HARDLY CONSIDER your comment an ATTACK in a time where bad Politicians are attacking anything that moves like “madness gone wild!!!” flipping, flopping, lying…

    It’s difficult for SOME…..that’s OK —Some folks just don’t get the REALLY BIG PICTURE ! That’s OK too! Your post, is right on it !!! Folks also seem to forget that it was YOUR WONDERFUL Grandfather in his “edited farewell address” that shared what was to become the real PROBLEM!!! (yes, most folks don’t know this fact! Thank you for sharing…”Congressional MIC”)
    He tried ever so eloquently and compassionately to WARN us of some of the things that has gone on in Our Country for the last several decades…

    You are QUITE AWARE of the TRUTH in the U.S. and Globally from a very unique position and perspective …
    You also have the right to speak Truth and call it what it is !!!
    (not everyone’s Grandfather was one of the Greatest Presidents in the history of the U.S.!!!) Thank you for keeping his values !

    You and I have something in common… My Grandfather was my Greatest Teacher as well…and… we are both FORMER Republicans.

    Again Susan, Bravo…

    Thanks for being WHO YOU ARE !!!

  7. David Robert Somers permalink
    September 14, 2012 4:23 am

    Gov. Mitt Romney’s run for the presidency is a mistake, one of many the Republicans have made over the past few years. The absolute, outright obstinancy of Sen. Mitch McConnell, of others in Congress equally strident against President Obama has destroyed what semblance of credibility the party ever had. It really started for me when Newt Gingrich began his campaign of vitriol in 1994 and continued with Henry Hyde’s vicious attacks on Clinton. It continues today. The level of malevolent opinions and expressions of doubt on unsupportable positions against the “liberals” has driven me to the Democrats. I have a few voting opportunities left in me before I pass from this world…and none will be for the current crop of Republicans. I long for the days of moderates like Nelson Rockefeller, Gerald Ford, Robert Taft, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole and Warren Rudman. C’mon folks. We can do better than this. If we don’t, we’re perilously close to a major melt-down…not just in the economy, but in our souls.

  8. Peter permalink
    September 14, 2012 9:42 am

    This comment goes to Gary Duarte, Sparks, Nevada. It addresses only the freedom of speech we Americans fight for and enjoy. This freedom comes with an implied responsibility for its content and intent. The “online video” is clearly an irresponsible abuse of this freedom and in my opinion its sole purpose is meant to inflame others. It is at best a radical piece of work meant to agitate the radicals of another religion. We have a history of abuse of this freedom of speech and understanding of the damage it causes us. As long as it is contained in our county the damage is ours to deal with. But we now live in a world where this freedom is broadcasted beyond our borders to worlds that have a long way to go to appreciate this precious freedom of ours. When damage is done beyond our country who speaks to our radical actions? You? Me? The film maker? Or is it the Government who is the protector of this freedom? Do we protect the irresponsible messages of our freedom with force and war? This is not really a freedom, is it? Sadly people have needlessly died as a result of this thoughtless act.Those who stand by the radical speeches will also own them and further compromise them to just words.

  9. September 15, 2012 9:05 am

    Consider this: John McCain had the opportunity to choose Romney as his running mate in 2008, and he chose NOT to. Despite his poor choice of Sarah Palin, he nonetheless clearly felt it was a better one than Mitt Romney. I’m beginning to see why.

  10. John Voss permalink
    September 15, 2012 3:50 pm

    Excellent blog today. Imagine what President Eisenhower would think of Romney!

  11. September 16, 2012 3:05 pm

    It is abundantly obvious from the last three years (let alone the last week) that America already suffers an “administration with a foreign policy that does not know or understand foreigners”.

  12. Tom Marcoux permalink
    September 17, 2012 12:30 pm

    Hi Susan,

    A timely expert observation that must be noted by anyone casting a vote in the coming election.

    Thanks, Tom

  13. Anne Mee permalink
    September 17, 2012 3:08 pm

    Mr. Duarte: The Catholic pedaphilic priests’ scandal is not over, and it has NEVER been healed from the inside by the Catholic hierarchy. The Roman Catholic has supported and facilitated sexual abuse for 50 years or more by ignoring it and by simply shifting priests to other churches without giving any warning or notice to the churches to which the pedaphile priests were transferred. The only way a Catholic person has to get relief and/or justice for sexual abuse by a priest is to go to the police, sue the Church, or go to the media. The Catholic has done everything in its huge power to ignore the abuse, sweep it under the rug, lie about it, and pay money to cover it up. No Pope has never acknowledged it or apologized for it. Anne Mee

  14. Anne Mee permalink
    September 17, 2012 3:10 pm

    That’s “The Catholic hierarchy has done everything . . .”

  15. September 17, 2012 4:12 pm

    Hi Susan, in my country (Germany) your Grandpa is probably the only hero we except as
    such, being liberated from your own insane stupidity is the most gratifying enlightenment,
    that’s why Germany belongs to the most progressive countries right now. The Republican
    Party has to go through a similar transformation, Ike would be so proud of your efforts!

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