Tom McLaughlin

A former history teacher, Tom is a columnist who lives in Lovell, Maine. His column is published in Maine and New Hampshire newspapers and on numerous web sites. Email: tommclaughlin@fairpoint.net

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 . . .

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9 Comments:

Anonymous christmasghost said...

Very very good post. But, I am not so sure that Obama is that *nice*.....we'll see I guess.
Hopefully while watching him watch McCain take the oath of office....

2/26/08, 8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a blathering nobody.

2/27/08, 9:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good insights. Also, let's not forget how important this election is to the future of the Supreme Court of this country. I shudder to think of who we'll get on the Court if either Obama or Hillary is elected.

2/27/08, 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, they all do seem like nice guys, although Tom Tancredo seemed like a real bigoted jerk to me. I personally met Obama and Richardson when I was living in NH and McCain recently in Vermont. I respect each of them.

I have no idea who will win the general election, but my guess is that it will be a democrat (it's a long way of... I know). You mention that we'll need someone tough in the White House, and I completely agree. But tough can also mean standing up to people who are calling for war all the time. Obama, I hope, would be able to do this. He wouldn't needlessly invade a country that was in no way a danger (at the time) to the United States, like some idiots in office have done. However, if it looked like Iran really had the figure on the button to bomb Israel, I'm sure Obama wouldn't sit back and let it happen. I don't think any of the candidates would. But I think he would wait to do this until all the alternatives have been used without success.

Not so with McCain, I'm afraid. With McCain, we have a man who believes war to be a constant way of life as well as a noble venture. His warning that there will be "more wars" will certainly be true if he is elected. War is something he's lived through and is the only way of life he probably feels comfortable. I know he thinks it's the right thing to do, but I can't see starting World War Three ever being the right thing to do.

This country is tired of war and tired of warmongering. I just don't see McCain getting elected (yeah, I know, it's still a long way off...) Many of the doomsday predictions you show I don't think will come to pass. Perhaps by getting a positive president in the White House, we can boost our image in the world and curb some of this illicit activity. They don't have to be conciliatory, but they shouldn't be itching to start wars with half the world.

Tim

2/27/08, 12:00 PM  
Blogger THE INFORMER said...

Well Done Tom,
Although what is left does not include our first choice, we must elect the best person from what is left. and that is John McCain.
If Obama, or Clinton, were elected during the Revolutionary War, we would be bowing to the Queen today.
keep up the great work!

Bob Sharkey

2/27/08, 7:33 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

christmasghost: I hope he's not nice all the time. He could be in trouble because of his house purchase and other associations with Rezco. We'll see how nice he is if and when he's forced to answer questions about that.

Anonymous 1: Of course I'm a blathering nobody. Aren't we all?

Anonymous 2: I agree. After how a president deals with Islamofascist terrorism, court appointments are the most important consideration.

Tim: Thoughtful post. Hope it's not a Democrat mostly because of what I said above, but some conservative pundits have speculated that only a Democrat can really get tough with Islamofascist terrorism without being hounded by Democrats in Congress - kind of like how only Nixon could have gone to China.

I think there's little doubt that Iran will use nukes against Israel once they obtain warheads. Check this out:
http://tommclaughlin.blogspot.com/2006/05/stranger-than-fiction.html

Obama should know this stuff. The only candidate I interviewed who did was, ironically, Tancredo.

I hope none of the nightmare scenarios I linked to above come to pass. Most won't if our enemies know we have a strong leader at the helm. Some might anyway. Life is difficult at times, and like you say: It's still a long way off. Anything can happen between now and the first Tuesday in November.

2/27/08, 7:38 PM  
Anonymous Daniel Roberts said...

I think what bothers me about Obama is that no one knows that much about him. He doesn't have much of a record to examine and his rhetoric seems contrived to intentionally seem vauge. I see the crowds this guy manages to draw and his followers (not merely voters mind you) swoon over this guy like it's 1948 and he's Sinatra. I agree that he may be a nice guy but I also think our enemies see this guy as a cream puff. I think if manages to dupe the American people he'll be in the mold of Jimmy Carter. Another nice guy who couldn't get much done and also had a naive view of the world.

3/3/08, 7:53 PM  
Blogger Tom McLaughlin said...

You're right about the intentionally vague campaign, Daniel. See this:

http://www.sacbee.com/111/story/649427.html

Hyperlinks don't work in this comments secton, so you'd have to cut and paste the URL.

Is Obama a wimp? We won't know until he's tested. I don't sense any fire there, but it might be present. We'll see how he answers questions about the Rezco trial over the next several days. Maybe something will emerge. Maybe not.

3/4/08, 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could you be so right about some issues and so off about others? Where's Ron Paul in the discussion? He's the only one awknowledging the crisis we are in and the dangers of big government. Where's the constitution and civil liberty being discussed? We're losing these things right before our eyes. While homeschoolers (like us) are threatened, parents are forced to vaccinate their children at gunpoint (Maryland and soon NJ)and the North American Union talks go on behind closed doors, who's saying enough is enough!? Ron Paul. And you don't need to be a bully to run this country...that's what's gotten us into this mess in the first place. While media and powers that be try to make it seem like he's no longer in the race, Ron Paul is consistantly giving the same message. It's time more people listened. We don't need more of the same, we need a revolution to make our country great again. It's time people did their homework and realized the extent of corruption operation in this country.

3/19/08, 2:22 PM  

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