My friend Jennifer Rubin has been working valiantly to light a fire under the Romney campaign on foreign policy, to little evident result as yet. In Washington’s lemming-like spirit of piling on, let me add another voice to the calls for a more lively debate on the issues:
• Really, Mitt Romney? All you can muster to the accusation that you wouldn’t have had the manhood to take out Osama bin Laden is “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order”?
Here’s what you might have said: This isn’t college, and I’m not in Barack Obama’s fraternity. Notches on the belt are not what makes a great American leader. What the American people should understand is that a serious leader will do anything and everything to protect the American people without polling, hiding behind the United Nations, or standing on a deck with a sign behind him every time he does the right thing. I won’t make commercials about what a man I was when I ordered troops to take out our enemies, and I sure as hell won’t offload Guantanamo prisoners to domestic courts, sympathetic foreign governments, or avoid taking in high value targets for fear the CIA might violate their human rights.
• Really, Romney campaign? You had nothing to say about the fact that the Obama administration wants to strike an “appropriate balance” between human rights and U.S. interests in China?
Here’s what you might have said: The equation with China is pretty simple: either you believe, as Mr. Obama does, that China is a rising power to our failing one, or you believe we cannot afford to subjugate our economy and our morals to a dictatorship that seeks to dominate the Pacific and global business. Either you believe there’s an “appropriate balance” between U.S. interests and human rights, or you believe U.S. interests are embodied by a commitment to human rights.
I realize that for Team Romney, the election is going to be about staggering unemployment and Obama’s economic incompetence. But there are some hot foreign policy potatoes out there including Iran, al Qaeda, and Syria. And there are some easy issues on which to draw a contrast with the current White House management, including aid to the Palestinians (really, it’s in our national security interest to fork over millions?), indifference to the Islamist take-over of the Arab Spring (apparently we can’t affect anyone, anywhere, anytime), and more. There’s no need to be defensive; the president made a good call on bin Laden, but his courage in that instance pales next to a record that includes his embrace of American decline, his fear of American leadership, his degradation of the military (and not just the Navy, as the Romney campaign appears to think).
I said it last week and I’ll keep saying it: Give the American people a choice between President “Cool” and President Grown-up. Then let us make the call.