Mitt Romney, in trying to diminish the impact of the NBC special on Barack Obama's ordering the mission against Bin Laden, sneered "“Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order."
Now there is a rejoinder at Bloomberg View to Mitt Romney, from Gerald Rafshoon, who was White House Communications Director in the Clinton White House. It is a piece well worth reading, as one might realize from its opening:
I’m fairly sure that Jimmy Carter is the bravest man I know. I’m absolutely sure that he’s the bravest politician.
And if that does not get your attention, what follows immediately should:
When it comes to courage, Carter’s polar opposite is Mitt Romney. Scour Romney’s record for a single example of real political courage -- a single, solitary instance, however small, where Romney placed principle or substance above his own short- term political interests. Let me know if you find one.
Please keep reading.
Rafshoon goes through many of the courageous decisions Carter undertook. Of course the obvious parallel was the mission to attempt to rescue the hostages, which unfortunately had tragic consequences with first the failure of three of the eight helicopters, and then the tragic crash which cost 8 lives and exposed the mission, a mission that like that to take out Bin Laden was opposed by many key advisors to the President, and which had only a so-so chance of success. And as Rafshoon rightly notes:
The Iran mission was actually riskier. Snatching 52 imprisoned Americans alive from a guarded building in the middle of a hostile nation’s teeming capital city is a taller order than killing one man in a residential suburban compound in a country controlled by a nominally allied, if untrustworthy, government.
He then goes on to offer three additional examples of Carter's political courage
1. Camp David
The “wise men” warned that a head of state should never go into a negotiation without knowing the outcome in advance. Carter rejected that advice -- and did more to further the security of Israel than any U.S. president before or since.
2. Panama Canal
Carter knew that failing to resolve it promptly could precipitate chaos and armed conflict in Central America.
With the help of Howard Baker he got the necessary 2/3 vote in the Senate, for which he was later savaged by Ronald Reagan.
3. Hitting the Kremlin - here Rafshoon recounts both the grain embargo and the boycott of the Moscow Olympics, for both of which Carter was attacked.
But they hit the Kremlin where it hurt and, in tandem with Carter’s human-rights drive and his aid to the Afghan resistance, they pushed Soviet communism toward eventual collapse.
He lists other items as well, including
a comprehensive energy program that -- had it not been gutted by his successor -- would have cut oil imports from the Middle East almost to zero by the start of the new century.
Rafshoon notes that Carter has said that while he supports Obama for re-election, he would be "comfortable" with Romney as President. Rafshoon offers a different point of view:
Sorry, Mr. President, I disagree with you. (It has happened before.) Romney flunks the character test. He seems incapable of making the hard, sometimes unpopular, choices that are part of the job.
Reread again these words about Romney: He seems incapable of making the hard, sometimes unpopular, choices that are part of the job.
I doubt few here would disagree with that assessment of the putative Republican nominee.
Read the Rafshoon piece.
Pass it on.