Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Bloodthirsty Bunch

I’m a little concerned about a couple of things I heard in Sunday’s Democratic debate. The first is Hillary Clinton’s statement that “We’re safer now than we were.”

If she’s talking about those of us within U.S. borders right now, her comment is immeasurable and therefore meaningless. If she’s talking about American troops serving in a country they should never have been sent to in the first place, it’s downright insulting.

Hillary looked very confident and poised at the debate, and she had enough good things to say that I might eventually be persuaded to let her out of my Republican-lite doghouse. But “We’re safer now than we were” is an empty phrase, and we’ve already spent six years with a president who can’t communicate in anything but empty phrases. Give us some substance, please.

The other thing was much more disturbing. Moderator Wolf Blitzer posed the following question, which I’m paraphrasing: “If the intelligence community knew the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, but that he would only be there for 20 minutes, would you move to eliminate him even if that meant killing innocent civilians?”

Now, you and I both know that’s a bullshit question, for a lot of reasons. When you have a field of eight presidential candidates eager to explain their positions to the public, why in the world would you be asking yes-or-no questions? What would have been wrong with asking something more open-ended, like “As president, what would you do to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice?”

Instead they turned it into a ridiculous hypothetical, a situation the candidates might encounter if they were playing Osama: The Video Game.

And unfortunately, with the shining exception of Dennis Kucinich, the candidates blew the response.

Kucinich, who’s been consistent in his antiwar sensibilities since he ran in 2004, was the first to respond: “I don't think that a president of the United States who believes in peace and who wants to create peace in the world is going to be using assassination as a tool, because when you do that, it comes back at your country.” That’s a bit of wisdom completely lost on the current administration of asshats, by the way.

Barack Obama took a different approach: “Osama Bin Laden has declared war on us, killed 3,000 people, and under existing law, including international law, when you've got a military target like Bin Laden, you take him out.” Well, aside from the fact that I think you have to be a sovereign nation before you can declare war on one, this completely dodges the “innocent civilians” issue. How many hundred thousand dead Iraqis are there now? Did the death of any particular one of them bring us closer to finding Bin Laden?

Blitzer then posed the question to the whole panel as a “show of hands” type thing (which, even though he’d been doing it all night, still came off as kind of simplistic and surreal), asking who among them would fire a missile that would kill Bin Laden and anyone who happened to be in the neighborhood.

They all raised their hands, except Kucinich. And that’s pretty freakin sad.

Do we need another bloodthirsty president? Do any of the candidates honestly believe that terrorism dies with Bin Laden, that blowing him up closes the book on 9/11?

I’m not saying Osama Bin Laden doesn’t deserve to die. I’m saying a dead Bin Laden wouldn’t make us any safer, especially if he’s surrounded by a bunch of dead people who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And by the way, if President Poor Dope really wanted to find Bin Laden, he could have invested a small percentage of what he’s wasted in Iraq to do so. If he isn’t going to make the effort, why is the question important enough to ask the Democratic candidates?

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