I watched parts of the Democratic presidential debate, then downloaded the transcript. Of all the column fodder it contained, I was particularly taken by two responses of John Edwards that, I believe, fairly represent the Democratic Party's wrongheaded foreign policy worldview.
His statements were at the beginning and end of the evening, and served as figurative bookends that nicely frame the Democrats' curious attitude toward this great nation they seek to lead. They tell us all we need to know about these would-be commanders in chief: that we cannot afford to have them anywhere near the Oval Office, especially as long as this war persists.
Toward the beginning, moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Edwards to clarify his statement that the "war on terror is a bumper sticker, not a plan," in light of the freshly thwarted terrorist plot to bomb JFK airport and the surrounding area in Queens, N.Y. Does Edwards really believe, asked Wolf, that "the U.S. is not at war with terrorists?"
Though he never answered the question directly, Edwards said -- unconvincingly -- he would use every means available to "find terrorists where they are" and "stop them." But he is sticking by his position that the "war on terror" has just been a bumper sticker and political slogan used by President Bush to justify every nefarious act he has committed, from "the ongoing war in Iraq, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, spying on Americans, torture. "
How can we possibly believe Edwards would do everything in his power to hunt down terrorists, since we know many of them are in Iraq and he is proudly advocating abandoning our mission there? Oh, yes, that's right, it's just a civil war, forgive me. Talk about a bumper sticker slogan.
More offensively, Edwards' answer suggests that Bush was behind any and all bad things that might have happened at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. It implies he truly does spy on innocent American citizens and directs that our prisoners be tortured. And why not? These charges fire up the kook base, just like Edwards' channeling of an unborn baby girl apparently fired up the jury in one of his legendary personal injury cases in 1985.
For his last time at bat, Blitzer asked Edwards (and the others) what his top priority would be in his first 100 days in office.
Edwards answered, "To travel the world, reestablish America's moral authority in the world, which I think is absolutely crucial. The other things become less important and subservient." Later he added, "To lead in taking action that demonstrates that America is strong, but that America is also moral and just, and we're going to help other people in the world and we're going to demonstrate our commitment to humanity."
Even if you choose to dismiss the Democrats' own bumper stickers about how evil America is (from Gitmo to domestic spying) because you swallow their excuse that they are only criticizing the Bush administration, not America, then you'll still have to explain how they can insist that America has the burden of proving it is not immoral.
Democrats apparently believe we are not justified in taking military action to address evil in the world unless our national interest is not at stake, like in Darfur.
Frankly, I've had my fill of these people trashing America and everything good and decent for which it stands, asserting moral equivalence between us and the terrorist barbarians, denying there's a real war going on and contending we are not performing humanitarian deeds and engaged in a noble cause in Iraq -- in short, telling the world we're evil, then lamenting that we have acquired that reputation.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, President Bush has not impugned the patriotism of this blame-America-first crowd. But how can any reasonable observer overlook that these Democratic leaders are doing everything they can to impugn their own patriotism?
I admit that a veritable love-fest with America from Democratic presidential contenders would not sit well with their rabid base, but couldn't they at least humor the rest of us? After all, there will be a general election following the primary.