Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Nice guys, but . . .
They’re all nice guys, but for president we need someone who can be a hard-ass. He’s the commander in chief. He has to order men into battle to kill and be killed. He can be nice sometimes but not all the time, and our enemies must know he has fire in his belly.
They had to be nice or they never would have been elected as congressmen, senators and governors. They were the candidates for president I had a chance to question this election cycle. All have since dropped out: Sam Brownback, Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd, Mitt Romney, Duncan Hunter, and Tom Tancredo. Of candidates still in the running, I’ve seen McCain and Huckabee speak in Washington and they seem like nice guys too. I didn’t go down there to see them, but they happened to be at the same conferences I went to, so I listened. I could have gone to hear Hillary speak nearby in Conway, NH but I didn’t feel like driving twenty miles. I don’t like Hillary and I don’t agree with her on anything. I wouldn’t have been able to question her so there was no point. Obama seems like a nice guy on television, but I don’t agree with him on anything either and I didn’t have an interview lined up, so twenty miles was too far a drive to see him too.
Nice guys can be congressmen, senators and governors because they don’t have to deal with foreign enemies who want to kill us. Nice is necessary for a president too, but not sufficient. President Carter seemed like a nice guy and became a terrible commander-in-chief. He groveled when Iranian mullahs kidnapped Americans and held them for a year and a half. As leader of the most powerful nation the world had ever seen, he was a wuss and our enemies knew it.
Bill Clinton wasn’t tough either. He was brazen, but that’s not the same thing. He feigned toughness, but Saddam Hussein knew he was bluffing and so did the rest of our enemies. I’ve known many like Clinton and you probably have too. They’re slick. They can talk a good game, but when push comes to shove they don’t have it. It’s something you just know. They’ve always been able to talk their way into something or out of something, but talk is the only weapon in their arsenal. They never consider fighting. They’re not willing to fight and they don’t know how.
Some guys don’t seem like leaders until it’s thrust upon them - like Harry Truman. Who would have predicted that he had the right stuff? He didn’t look the type but he had it - but then he’d been an artillery captain in World War I. Congressman Duncan Hunter had it but it wasn’t evident in any other candidate I interviewed. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t there, but we’ll never know.
Women can be courageous leaders too. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher certainly was and I sense that Reagan’s UN Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick, could have been too. As fellow cabinet member Bill Bennett described her: “She had no patience with [Islamofascist] tyrannies, said they had to be confronted, you couldn't deal with tyrannies, that there were some people you could work with -- these people you couldn't.” By contrast, Clinton’s UN Ambassador, Bill Richardson, believes he can talk to anyone. His plan for dealing with the tyrannical mullahs running Iran? “I’d sit down and talk to them,” he said. “Heck, I talked with Saddam Hussein. I’ll talk to anyone.” Did Richardson have the stuff to go beyond talk? Maybe, but I didn’t sense it. Guess we’ll never know.
We have to use both gut and brain to size up candidates. It’s not for sure yet, but it looks like Americans will choose either McCain or Obama as commander-in-chief in November. What will the winner face in January? Tests like these:
Iran is building nuclear weapons, has the missiles to hit our ally Israel, and is virtually promising to do so. If we intervene, they promise to block the Strait of Hormuz. North Korea is trying to export nukes to Syria. China is spending billions beefing up its military and conducting war games around Taiwan - which we have pledged to protect and China wants to take back. Russia is beefing up its military, threatening to choke off natural gas to Europe, assassinating expatriate dissidents across that continent, and rattling sabers over Kosovo independence. Al Qaida and the Taliban are on the verge of controlling Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Venezuela threatens to choke off oil to the United States, supports communist guerillas in Colombia and Bolivia who smuggle cocaine into the United States, and conspires with Iran to bring us down. Europe, which we’ve spend trillions protecting, doesn’t want to help us in Afghanistan. No country but the United States is capable of dealing with even one of these scenarios.
Which commander-in-chief can handle these tests?
McCain? Nice guy, former fighter pilot, POW, five years of torture without breaking, decades of congressional experience in military affairs.
Obama? Nice guy, good talker . . .