I Agree With Wm Kristol? Yep. Romney’s Silence on Afghanistan is Tone Deaf

William Kristol and I are on the opposite end of virtually every issue and topic you can imagine. But I have to give the guy props today for making the following comments on GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s absolute tone-deafness when it comes to a major subject in American politics: our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States has some 68,000 troops fighting in Afghanistan. Over two thousand Americans have died in the more than ten years of that war, a war Mitt Romney has supported. Yet in his speech accepting his party’s nomination to be commander in chief, Mitt Romney said not a word about the war in Afghanistan. Nor did he utter a word of appreciation to the troops fighting there, or to those who have fought there. Nor for that matter were there thanks for those who fought in Iraq, another conflict that went unmentioned.
Leave aside the question of the political wisdom of Romney’s silence, and the opportunities it opens up for President Obama next week. What about the civic propriety of a presidential nominee failing even to mention, in his acceptance speech, a war we’re fighting and our young men and women who are fighting it? Has it ever happened that we’ve been at war and a presidential nominee has ignored, in this kind of major and formal speech, the war and our warriors?

This is just one more way in which Romney is the candidate in this race who is not in tune with his fellow countrymen, a charge he and his surrogates hurl at President Obama with boring frequency.

But I wonder perhaps if the real problem isn’t just with Romney but with our entire nation. The War in Afghanistan seldom makes the front pages of newspapers, in stark contrast to the Vietnam War which dominated the news for nearly a decade. You can hang out in a lot of coffee shops listening to conversations among all sorts of people from the broad spectrum of politics and never hear the war mentioned. It’s just not part of the national consciousness. This is one of the consequences of an all-volunteer military where it is not true that everyone knows someone who is serving, has served or could be called on to serve in combat. 

But Mr. Kristol is right that for a national party’s presidential candidate to ignore an ongoing war in a speech of such importance as was Mr. Romney’s last night is unprecedented. And it speaks volumes of the kind of leader Mr. Romney would be if he were to be sent to the White House.

2 comments for “I Agree With Wm Kristol? Yep. Romney’s Silence on Afghanistan is Tone Deaf

  1. revsteve
    September 1, 2012 at 10:33 pm
  2. revsteve
    September 1, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    Romney is not only “not in tune”, he has an almost delusional capacity to speak without regard to CONTEXT almost all of the time. I am not just saying “out of context” — I’m saying “without a sense of context”. In other words, he does not seem to “connect the dots” and relate his personal experience of the world in the context of what it really happening. He seems to have “tunnels” (plural!) vision. He looks only down one tunnel at a time, never stepping back and seeing “the big picture”.That may work fine if you’re working on a deal at a time at Bain Capital or planning a single event like the winter Olympics (even though it had lots of different events within the event — those are handled by the “detail crews”). But, I doesn’t work well if you’re trying to orchestrate the entirety of the US…I’m pasting below my rather lengthy personal reaction to another part of the Romney speech. It illustrates the above in spades.Thanks, SteveRomney’s Memory of 1969 Is A Fantasy!In his acceptance speech, Mitt Romney rightfully saluted the memory of Neil Armstrong and Armstrong’s first steps on the moon on July 20, 1969. But rather than keep it at honoring the late astronaut, the Mitt-ster then attempted to use the event to justify his presidential campaign to go “back to the future”.Paraphrasing Romney’s remarks, they went something like this: “I remember that Ann and I were sitting on the couch in her parent’s living room watching those steps. And, as Armstrong took them it brought to mind – just as millions of other Americans were thinking at that moment – how great it was to be an American and to be living in the greatest nation on earth!”My personal experience of the moonwalk was somewhat different. I was serving in Vietnam at the time – along with 545,409 other troops – watching the event on Armed Forces TV. My thoughts were something like this: “That’s fantastic! But what in the hell are we doing here in Vietnam?” (U.S. casualties already totaled 33,641 dead by that time – more than our losses in the Korean Conflict).While were serving in Vietnam, the Mittster was enjoying his third draft deferent (1 – student deferment at Sanford 1965-66; 2 – Mormon missionary deferment in France 1966- 1968; 3- student deferment at BYU 1969 …then in December 1969, Romney “drew” number 300 in the lottery, effectively completing his “draft dodge”).Those are “facts” that cannot be changed. But for many, 1969 marked one of the lowest points of pride in being American and of the USA itself. The year was marked with protests – in April Harvard students seized control of the campus Admin Bldg, in May the “Bloody Thursday” riot at Berkeley’s “Peoples Park” got squashed by Reagan’s thugs, in June the Stonewall riots in NYC were the nation’s first gay protests, and in November first 250,000 people stormed the Capitol Mall to protest against the war in Vietnam and then a week later, Native Americans began an 18 month occupation of Alcatraz.Other notable events of the year included Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick accident, the Manson murders at Sharon Tate’s residence, and the beginning of the trials of Lt. Wm Caley for the slaughter he led at My Lai and “The Chicago Seven” for their protests at the Republican convention in Chicago in 1968. And, of course, racial tensions continued high following assassination of Martin Luther King in the previous year and the implementation of the Civil Rights Law’s reforms. So, yes, we celebrated the moonwalk – and the next month there was the raucous Woodstock event. But all in all, if I were Mitt Romney, I wouldn’t have professed his celebration of how great it was to be an American in 1969. In fact, to me his remarks were not only off base – they were personally offensive and downright insensitive and insulting to those of us who were struggling in those times.But, that seems to be the way the Mittster is….he only seems to see the world through his own rose-colored and delusional lenses – failing to maintain a sense of context for what he experiences and with total disregard for the impact of how his views might differ from others. This is more than being out of touch. He is totally in La-La Land.