Monday, April 27, 2009

Another Inept Republican Takes Aim At The Obama Foreign Policy

Fred Thompson, the former senator and LAW & ORDER actor who couldn't even successfully raise campaign contributions or manage his campaign for president in 2008, has become the latest of a crowded field of inept Republican "leaders" to become a critic of the Obama foreign policy and the release of CIA documents related to torture. Strangely, Thompson referred to Obama as "inept, naive and arrogant", when it is probably Thompson that has failed to see the irony of his comments being a pretty good self-description.

Thompson proved in his failed 2008 bid for the Republican nomination that he really has no real base of support among many Republicans other than as a fringe candidate. He attracted very few votes and quickly dropped out of the race. And reputation of Thompson as an effective manager were quickly dashed by his woefully inept campaign and lazy approach to running for office. This failed to impress many donors to give funds to some candidate who didn't seem to show any real ambition or drive to really seek the office.

Another problem is that the most vocal critics of the Obama foreign policy so far have been figures such as Thompson, Cheney and Gingrich who have little real public support outside of inner Republican Party circles. The public doesn't really care what these largely irrelevant figures think.

Another problem is that it is a difficult sell for a few Republicans like Cheney or Thompson to generate a great deal of public sympathy for torture or abuse of prisoners. This is a downright crazy issue to champion that is highly unlikely to become a Republican path back to power at any point in the near future. These guys just don't seem to be intelligent enough to understand that torture and prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib wasn't one of America's finest moments. The public is hardly going to return Republican back to power on such an absurd issue.

These Republican voices could be tuned in to the real world here, and understand that the economy is the overwhelming issue of public interest right now. And as long as the Obama Administration and the Democrats don't have a complete foreign mess develop somewhere or allow a new major terrorist attack in the U.S. to succeed, then foreign policy will remain a minor issue compared to the economy. A minor issue like foreign policy is where minor votes are right now. This isn't a major issue for Republicans to soap box on.

Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton did manage to urge Pakistan to take some stronger action against the Taliban over the weekend, where the government in Pakistan appears to want to use military means to have a show of force against the Taliban after Clinton put pressure on them. This about all that can be hoped for. Pakistan is sending troops into areas where the Taliban is strong to send them a message that a military showdown could result if the Taliban attempts to further break peace agreements or make efforts to seize more territory.

Foreign policy may not be the strongest suit of the Obama Administration. But this administration is only about 100 days old, and will certainly improve in this area. All the Obama Administration needs to do is to improve relations in some areas such as with Cuba and Russia, while not allowing Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea or Venezuela to become a complete mess, and this administration will be judged pretty well as long as the main action is in the area of strengthening the economy. In the area of terrorism, as long as there are no new attacks in the U.S., most voters will judge that the Obama Administration is keeping America safe enough by most voters.

The fresh Bush Administration in September 2001 was challenged by the surprise 9/11 attacks and part of the aftermath of that was inept actions that allowed this event to happen in the first place and an over-reaction that allowed torture and prisoner abuses to take place. The current debate over torture is whether this over-reaction to 9/11 allowed abuses that were criminal in nature to take place. This discussion is best to conducted by impartial judges of some sort as any debate by Congress would be too highly partisan in nature and may not really get to the truth of the matter.

As long as the Obama Administration faces no similar major foreign policy mess, and can keep most of the public discussion on the economy as the major problem facing the U.S., the Republican voices from figures such as Cheney, Gingrich or Thompson aren't likely to generate much wind for the sails of Republicans. This is another example of the wrong message by the wrong messengers.


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