Expanding on Joi’s comments about my feelings on the Republican convention: I heard one of my heros, Winston Churchill, invoked repeatedly during the first night of the Republican National Convention on Monday. Comparing George W. Bush to Winston Churchill is disingenuous at best and, for someone as intelligent as Rudy Guliani, downright ignorant. Guliani should read more about his heros before drawing historical analogies to the current president.
Churchill spent almost the entirety of the 1930s in political exile while both parties in his country treated Hitler as a small problem rather than a massive threat. By comparison, the absolute lack of focus on terrorism, which the Bushies dismissed and that the President himself did not want to hear about before 9/11 betrays the fact that his “resolve” is the ultimate act of political opportunism. Instead, anti-terrorism funding was a constant battle for the Clinton administration: The Republican Congress did not want to up funding for the fight against Osama bin Laden.
The Republicans are quite simply full of shit when they say any of their leaders are like Churchill. Churchill was a voice in the wilderness calling for preparations to fight Germany. The Republicans led the slashing of defense budgets for many of the programs they blame John Kerry for gutting. Churchill never signed a deal with Hitler and then blamed Neville Chamberlain for the idea.
Moreover, Churchill was a pragmatic diplomat who was flexible in his response to the world. Guliani’s portrait of President Bush’s resolve, that he set the standard that “you are either with us or with the terrorists” has contributed to a confrontational foreign policy in which, had Churchill acted that way, he would have damned President Roosevelt for refusing to enter the war in 1939, when it was constitutionally impossible for him to do so. That would have cost England the Lend-Lease program that allowed it to rearm and fight for the first three years of World War II. A Bushian approach would have resulted in a German victory, because it would have been ham-handed and rigid, when dexterous diplomacy was the essential ingredient for England’s survival.
George Bush never said a word about terrorism during the campaign in 2000, let alone raising a red flag about it during the 1990s. Instead, his father helped arm the very dictator he targeted in lieu of fighting actual terrorists after 9/11. Osama bin Laden is still on the loose. Guliani blamed the German government for releasing the “surviving terrorists” who worked with the 9/11 hijackers, but why didn’t the U.S. government work with the German government to win a conviction? The reason is the kind of inflexible go-it-alone strategy that Churchill would never have followed. We were already headed down a ridiculous Saddam-centric path that alienated the United States from a world united against the horror of 9/11.
Really, folks, Rudy Guliani did wonders as mayor of New York after 9/11, but he’s so full of shit now that his carrying of Bush’s bags should count against him in 2008.