I know. Stupid question. Meaningless to ask; impossible to answer. To a biased observer, however, the question (or allegation, if so worded) is enough to get the intended point across; it is much like being charged as a child abuser. “Have you stopped beating your wife” is a similar tactic. Armed with only a healthy lack of ethics, one can destroy an opponent. Playing to a crowd of partisans whose interest in truth is overpowered by interest in gaining political points yields a cheap political win.
Rudy Giuliani played that dirty game last week, questioning President Obama’s Christianity and his devotion to the country. It wasn’t just a slip of the tongue, for the former “America’s mayor” kept up his unscrupulous attack even until today.
On Sunday news shows, several Republican stalwarts, some seeking their party’s nomination for president skillfully avoided answering a journalist’s question to share their judgments on Giuliani’s statements. The reactions of most of those asked (given my limited exposure to interviews) expressed either no opinion or a tepid one, quickly followed by a change of topic. After all, Rudy loves America, knows the intricacies of terrorism, and is understandably upset by Obama’s failure to deal decisively with Islamic terrorists. The unstated, though clearly implied, allegation is that if Romney had won six years ago, things would be entirely different.
There’d have been no Benghazi, no “leading from behind,” no loss of Syria, no executive action on immigration, no IRS politicization, and so forth. Well, it could be true; all might have been milk and honey. Maybe. We’ll never know. But the allegation is a tactic which, wearing the garb of righteousness, cannot be disproven. The only available guide we have is the old hiring maxim: the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. President Bush’s administration, brandishing the sword of state committed the country to a couple of trillion dollars, thousands of lives, and a thoroughly upset Middle East balance of power in order to deal with a lesser volume of terrorism. Perhaps it would be unfair to ask how that came out.
My distress in watching the Republican politicos’ slimy behavior was (a) partially that I know Democrats can play the same games, but (b) mostly that Americans apparently cannot see the obfuscation or, at least, cannot see it when it comes from our own partisan corner.