Interesting that when President Obama addressed his party’s gay and lesbian auxiliary (the Human Rights Campaign) last night, he generated the most energetic reaction not for touting of his accomplishments, but for attacking Republicans:
The most electric reaction, however, came when Obama sharply criticized the GOP presidential candidates for staying silent when audience members at a debate booed a gay soldier who asked a question about DADT.
“We don’t believe in the kind of smallness that says it’s okay for a stage full of political leaders — one of whom could end up being the president of the United States — being silent when an American soldier is booed. We don’t believe in that,” said Obama to loud cheers and a standing ovation.
“We don’t believe in standing silent when that happens. We don’t believe in them being silent since. You want to be commander in chief? You can start by standing up for the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, even when it’s not politically convenient. We don’t believe in a small America. We believe in a big America — a tolerant America, a just America, an equal America — that values the service of every patriot.”
It is sick what this Democrat is doing. He didn’t need to attack Republicans. He could have simply highlighted his accomplishments on issues of concern to the gay community, notably repeal of DADT (which even yours truly believes is a feather in his cap).
It is telling that Obama felt it incumbent upon himself to attack, attempting to hold Republican presidential candidates responsible for the boorish behavior of at most three (but likely just one) rude and disrespectful louts. And it is telling that this mean-spirited attack generated the “most electric reaction” at an HRC event.
The only candidate who would be expected to condemn the boor would be the man to whom the gay soldier’s question was addressed. And that man, Rick Santorum, albeit belatedly (though he claims not to have heard the boos during the debate*) did condemn the boors who bood the soldier.
To suggest that the Republican candidates do not stand up for the men and women in uniform is demagoguery plain and simple. The president should abolish for suggesting as much (while hinting at their “smallness“).
The president’s mean-spirited attack shows his eagerness to repeat the talking points of left-wing pundits. He is attempting to hold Republicans responsible for the actions of perhaps not more than one boorish individual. This demagoguery, having defined the president’s governing style for these past several months, has also begun to define his re-election campaign.
Perhaps if he considered the standard he has set by claiming that “we don’t believe in standing silent” in the face of such boorish behavior, he might realized how, in world with balanced media**, he might be held to account for his own silence when his political allies attacked Republicans. Guess that before he took office, he felt General David Petraeus betrayed us.
By the standard Obama set last night at the HRC dinner, a Democrat who stands silent when a participant in a rally where he speaks boos a soldier or a citizen, that Democrat believes in a “kind of smallness.” (Perhaps we should find footage of rallies where Democrats spoke and protesters slurred the troops or held up signs denouncing the men and women of our armed forces and use the Obama standard to fault his fellow partisans’ silence.)
Any time a Democrat stood silent in the face of angry rhetoric, he shows just how small he is. We now have a president to small to condemn a political ally for wanting to “take out” their political adversaries. He has repeatedly stood silent when much vitriol has been leveled at his ideological adversaries.
His term cannot end soon enough.
*If Santorum heard the boos, I agree he should have condemned them before launching into his reply. And yes, I do find it striking (and disturbing) that he failed, during the debate, to thank the soldier for his service.
**Perhaps given this bias, Obama knew he could get away without having the media investigate his own past rhetoric. (Indeed, both AOL and Yahoo! lead with articles largely sympathetic to the president, never questioning if he maintains the standard to which holds his partisan adversaries.)
UPDATE: Just one to make one thing clear which I had intended to imply with the post, but may have been less implicit than (and definitely not explicit) I had originally thought:
It is one thing to say the candidates should have spoken out against the booing — as I wish they had done. It is quite another to demagogue it as Obama has done.
Had the candidates spoken out, they would have shown themselves to be of a more noble sort. But, absence of nobility does not necessarily mean smallness. And let me stress again that if the Republican candidates’ silence renders them small, as the president suggests, then Obama himself is small for his silence when various his supporters hurled invective at rallies where he has spoken, indeed, when fellow partisans and political allies who stood on the very stage he did, attacked and insulted his political rivals — and their supporters.
FROM THE COMMENTS: “But,” notes our reader Jimmy, “this particular soldier was gay. Had someone in the crowd booed at a straight soldier, would anybody on the left take notice? I kind of doubt it. But the president knows his audience.” Good point.
UP-UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds links Ann Althouse’s trenchant commentary on the matter. That blogress finds the president’s meme that Republican candidates “condoned or tolerated the booing of a gay soldier” to be
false, as explained here. There is a contagious lie and the President — he who often speaks of transcending divisiveness — is enthusiastically spreading it… while — ironically! — posing in the mantle of oneness, E pluribus unum. The [HRC] crowd goes wild, by the way. Listen to the audio (at the link). They find the infected red meat scrumptious! And can you blame the poor man? He must serve something to the assembled hungry masses, and this — this! — is the best he’s got.
Read the whole thing.
UP-UP-UPDATE: Law professor William A. Jacobson (also via Glenn as above) reminds us that the man who said, “We don’t believe in them being silent” was indeed, “pretending not to have heard or known, of the denunciation — not for the first time — of America’s military at his own church by his own personal mentor”. So that means, you’re small when you stand silent when a loutish audience member boos a service member, but you’re doing nothing wrong when you continue to sit in the church of a man who slurs the U.S. military, returning regularly to his congregation, never faulting his pastor for his mean-spirited invective. And recall the president’s onet-time pastor denounced not just the U.S. military, but also gays.
And his silence didn’t prevent HRC from endorsing him. Guess they hold Republicans to higher standards.