After the terror attacks of 9/11, the nation rallied behind George W. Bush because Americans are aware that in a time of crisis it is important to support the commander-in-chief of our armed forces. The support and goodwill for Bush was in spite of his poor performance and the fact that the Supreme Court handed him the presidency. At the time our troops were being deployed to invade Iraq, some Americans questioned Bush’s motivation and they were ostracized, called traitors, and worse, accused of not supporting the troops. The Republican noise machine propagated the meme that questioning the president while our military was engaged in a war was tantamount to hating our soldiers.
Since Republicans are known for being rank hypocrites, it was not surprising that when President Obama took office, the criticism from the right was that he was soft on defense and ill-suited to lead the military. Republicans like John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Dick Cheney assailed the president for being conciliatory with the enemy and not displaying the cowboy diplomacy associated with George W. Bush, but they were never called traitors and no-one accused them of not supporting the troops. Dick Cheney went so far as to say, “It is clear that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe.” So to use the Republican measure of what constitutes being a traitor and not supporting the troops, Dick Cheney plainly qualifies on both counts.
Sarah Palin, the self-professed greatest military mind in the history of the world said of the President, “his fundamental approach to terrorism is fatally flawed.” Palin also said the president’s handling of the war on terror is “dangerous for our nation’s security,” and that he needs to “recognize that the real nature of the terrorist threat requires a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor.” As it turns out, the real commander-in-chief, President Obama, does recognize the terrorist threat and used his law professor mind to carefully explore all options before ordering the military to covertly enter a sovereign nation and kill the most wanted terrorist in the world. For the myriad times Palin criticized the military’s commander-in-chief, it is obvious that she does not support the troops. It is also obvious that Palin’s criticism of the president while on foreign soil qualifies her as a traitor.
There is no lack of criticism for the president from Fox News, and like Republicans, have made it their stock and trade to characterize Obama as weak on defense for “reaching out to the Muslim world” and saying “that America is not at war with Islam.” Pundits on Fox have said that under the Obama Administration, “the federal government really doesn’t take terrorism very seriously.” In another Fox News program during a conversation regarding the president and the CIA, a conservative pundit claimed, “The real problem, is the morale is obviously bad but clearly, for the CIA now to be answering to a president, for the first time I think a sitting president who has given aid and comfort to the enemy, both psychologically and materially, it’s a very distressing thing because…the President obviously does not care.”
The criticism has not abated with the killing of Osama Bin Laden although many critics in Congress have been careful to commend the president for making a “gutsy” decision. However, many right-wing pundits have given credit to George W. Bush instead of President Obama. Palin in particular thanked the military and particularly Mr. Bush for killing Bin Laden in a post on Facebook, and in the thousands of comments following the post, Palin’s supporters decried Obama’s involvement in Bin Laden’s death and congratulated Palin for her role…whatever that may have been.
There are thousands of instances of Republicans criticizing the president while the country is still engaged in two wars and it is painfully clear that they do not understand the nature of the military. Soldiers are loyal to their commander-in-chief regardless of his party affiliation, and when they hear criticism of their leader, they take it very personally. In the case of our current military, every soldier is a volunteer and they serve out of a sense of patriotic duty to the country and their leader. There is some validity to the point that being critical of the president is being critical of the military when regarding the prosecution of the wars. Service members have related that when they hear anyone criticize President Obama’s handling of the wars, they bristle that it extends to the troops in the field who are following orders.
The continued criticism of the president’s handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are unfounded and borne out of hatred for the president’s race. He has been strong on defense and has made bold decisions in prosecuting the war on terror and his critics can hardly accuse him of being weak any longer. Republicans will be hard pressed to use their staple campaign slogan that a Democratic president is weak on defense, and it explains Republican attempts to give all credit to Bush or Sarah Palin. What Republicans have done with the criticism is show their hatred for our military and their lack of support for the troops in the field who would follow the president’s orders at any cost.
President Obama did make a gutsy decision, but it was made out of concern for justice and to protect the American people. His decision also demonstrated his trust in the capabilities of the men and women in the military as well as the intelligence community who work tirelessly to protect the nation. This president and Democrats in Congress have done more for veterans and soldiers in the field than George W. Bush ever did and military personnel are grateful to their commander-in-chief. They are also grateful that Obama does not recklessly commit them to danger and they appreciate his diplomacy first policy instead of shoot first and ask questions later.
Republicans accused critics of Bush’s policies of not supporting the troops and being traitors to America, and they were relentless in pursuing that line of thought throughout the Bush war years. Now that there is a Democrat in the White House, Republicans have changed the rules and it is in part because of the president’s party and in part because of his race. However, they are not getting a pass on this one just because they are hypocrites. When Republicans criticize President Obama’s handling of the wars or his policy on the war on terror, they are not supporting the troops. In fact, their unrelenting attacks on Obama’s patriotism or alleged weakness on defense means they hate the military. Their insistence that the president should confront enemies and wage war on Islam shows their disregard for the lives of our service men and women.
The president deserves to be commended for his thoughtful decision and steady resolve to protect the nation and our service members. As for the critics of the president’s defense policy and handling of two wars; they are hypocritical traitors, despise the troops, and are not worthy of the dedication and sacrifice the military makes to protect them.