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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

With All Due Respect, Mr. President

Dear President Obama,
I have watched and listened now through many months of campaigning and now three nationally broadcast debates.  Aside from your rather listless performance in the first debate, everything else has pretty much been a draw.  I would like to comment on a trend in your campaign however; a trend that culminated in what I must say was a less than impressive performance in the final debate.  You spoke at the Al Smith dinner just last week of having great personal respect for Mr. Romney, yet everything about your tone and bearing last night was condescending, and bordered on the sort of social bullying behavior you might expect to see in a junior high classroom.

Several of your responses to your opponent reflected outright disrespect and belittling of a reasoned opinion that does not agree with your own.  This was done at a debate over foreign policy, which is really all about diplomacy and management of relationships with individuals whose interests often diverge from your own.  Mr. Romney underscored his willingness to work with others, yet you sat there and derided differing opinions as if they were stupid. Rather than taking the opportunity to educate others as to why you believe your opinions and policies are better, you chose to imply that your opponent, and his supporters, are dumb.
I am certain this shored up your base; as certain as I am that you hurt yourself with those who were still on the fence.  You derided Mr. Romney for thinking that the military is like playing a game of battleship, yet it is you who appeared last night to be thinking about the military as a game.  Your essential assertion that aircraft carriers are the be-all, end-all shows a complete lack of understanding of warfare.  The United States has not fought a complex military engagement since World War II, and while carriers are a great asset in such situations, they are also the largest targets on the water.  With the development of new missile technologies in China meant to neutralize aircraft carriers, it is necessary to have sufficient craft at sea to support and protect our large assets.

You seem, Mr. President, to have bought into the notion that air superiority is all that is needed.  From your reliance on aircraft carriers and your derision of bayonets underscores a lack of understanding that wars are still won on the ground.  It’s not the pilot screaming overhead who stabilizes the situation, but the men and women on the ground.  They are the ones who secure U.S. objectives in war time; they are the ones in the sights of the enemy; they are the ones who must constantly be on the watch for IEDs or opponents wearing friendly garb.  And sometimes in the heat of battle, the only thing left between you and your opponent might be the bayonet you so openly derided last night.
Mr. President, in foreign policy and in domestic communications, we need a leader who is gracious but strong; someone who can explain issues of import without putting down those who are listening.  We need a leader who can, as Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  That is not what I saw on television last night, sir.  What I saw was a man who sunk to petty jabs and, frankly, unbecoming theatrics to counter arguments he doesn’t have answers for.  It’s not the tenor or image projected by your campaign in recent weeks, either.  Now Mr. President, I voted for your four years ago.  I was one of your biggest supporters early on; but it’s become increasingly clear that you have forgotten how this relationship works.  That is to say, you work for us, not the other way around.  We’ve had this conversation before; it’s in your file.  I’m afraid you might want to clean out your desk, sir.  Your interests and the interests of the United States of America are no longer the same.  You’re fired, Mr. President.


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