Talking Treason: Is Hatred of Obama Trumping Patriotism?

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Because some Republicans object to Obama’s military policies, they think they have the right to try to tear apart the military David Zalubowski/AP

Congressman Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, is an un-American demagogue, willing to sabotage this country for his own grandstanding narcissism. If his words are to be believed, this brigadier blowhard is thoroughly unfit for public office and instead should be rotting in jail on charges of treason.

Or am I being too subtle?

Lamborn is the latest type of political muck America needs to scrape off the bottom of its national shoe: an officeholder so absorbed with his hatred of the opposing party that he is willing to do anything, no matter how much it damages our national security and the underpinnings of our democracy, if it will win him some applause and maybe a couple of votes.

Last week, according to Medium, Lamborn slithered into a meeting in the basement of a bar to speak with a group of far-right conservatives who call themselves “liberty voters.” Of course, these are people who use the name Barack Obama as an epithet, who believe democracy means only that their candidates win and who lap up any conspiracy theory that reinforces their fears.

During a question-and-answer period, a member of the audience called on Lamborn to support the troops, “despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House.” (Yeah, this is one of the conspiracy theories making the rounds among the feverish fanatics set: that Obama has secretly filled his administration with fundamentalist jihadists because, ummm…don’t ask me.)

There was a time in our country when politicians considered it to be a sign of leadership and part of their moral obligation to calm folks down when someone voiced some wackadoodle idea. Senator John McCain did that as recently as 2008 when he cautioned some frightened supporters that Obama was “a decent man you don’t have to be afraid of.” Unfortunately, the fact that the crowd booed at McCain’s truth-telling in front of the rabid was a lesson not lost on his fellow-GOPers. And so now, no attack on Obama is too nuts to get a “well, maybe, you don’t know” response.

Lamborn, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, burbled happily at the absurd conspiracy theory voiced by someone in the audience, and then assured the crowd that, in fact, he and his fellow Republicans were doing everything in their power to undermine America. “A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, lets have a resignation,” Lamborn said. Then he added that if generals resigned en masse to protest Obamas policy in the Middle East, they would “go out in a blaze of glory.”

Stop and think about this for a minute. Unless Lamborn is a bold-faced liar, he just admitted that he and members of his party have been oozing around Washington, buttonholing senior members of the military and telling them to abandon their troops in the middle of a war. Can you imagine how insane—rightfully—the right-wing noise machine, from Fox News to Breitbart.com, as well as every Republican politician from the president to the local dog catcher, would have gone had some Democrat proclaimed that members of that party were trying to cause mass resignation of military leadership?

Remember, these are the people who lost their minds when some pop-country singers, the Dixie Chicks, said they opposed the Iraq War and were ashamed of President Bush. But hey, those were entertainers. They probably have much more influence on national policy than, say, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Anyone over the age of 25 probably also remembers how Republicans routinely broke out the fainting couch whenever anyone suggested that perhaps the strategy behind the Iraq War wasn’t quite as clever as it could be.

For example, in a 2003 article in The Washington Times headlined “Criticism of Iraq Policy Seen as Hurting U.S. Troop Morale,” Rep. Eric Cantor, then a senior House Republican from Virginia, said, “Traditionally, both Republicans and Democrats leave politics at the water’s edge. A united front is essential for the U.S. to effectively deal with other nations and troubled regions. The Democrats have broken that rule, attacking President Bush when our troops are abroad.”

I agreed with Cantor’s statement then and now, although I think he was applying it incorrectly. The questions that were of such concern to him were about the intelligence failures that had led then-President George W. Bush to believe—incorrectly—that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. They were also being asked after Bush had proclaimed—incorrectly—that major combat in Iraq was over. In truth, nothing at that time could have been more important than understanding what led to such a massive error on the part of our intelligence agencies, particularly since we still had troops overseas who depended on quality intelligence for their survival.

But those are just nitpicks. Cantor was right. This country’s politicians should not be attacking each other in the middle of a war. The President is the commander in chief, solely responsible for approving military strategies and conducting foreign affairs. The White House has access to far more information—including direct conversations with foreign leaders and the like—than some congressman meeting with folks a floor below where drinkers go to get sloshed.

But, because some Republicans object to Obama’s military policies—which, as I wrote even before he announced them, were the right ones to pursue because of the nature of ISIS and its many enemies—they think they have the right to try to tear apart the military? To turn their backs on our fighting men and women because they disagree with the approach?

Remember, Bush’s military strategy for the first three years of the Iraq War was completely wrong. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld successfully urged Bush to abandon the doctrine named for General Colin Powell, which would have led to the use of overwhelming force, and instead adopt a Panglossian policy of relying on small troop levels. In 2006, when the failure of that foolishness was clear, Rumsfeld was out and troop levels surged. But before then, were Democrats encouraging military leaders to resign over what we now know was a disastrous strategic error?

But don’t think that Lamborn and the other Republicans urging generals to revolt are alone. No, the Republicans’ plastic patriots with their faux flag-waving just can’t seem to weather the cold reality that a Democrat is in the Oval Office, leaving them willing to tear apart anyone, anywhere, who might be seen as providing a little positive PR to the president’s policies.

Take Eric Bolling, a blatherer of the first order from Fox News. The United Arab Emirates joined the United States and other allies in a bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria, a result of Obama’s policy of persuading friendly nations to become part of a coalition against the jihadist psychopaths. The leader of that mission, flying an F-16 Desert Falcon, was Major Mariam al-Mansouri, the first female fighter pilot for the UAE.

So what should a commentator comment on there? Perhaps the bravery of the bombing mission; perhaps the sign of how much the UAE has changed, given that a woman was leading the way; perhaps the evolution of the strategy? Nope. Because this is Barack Obama’s war, and no amount of slime is off limits among the Bollings of the world. When the accomplishment of al-Mansouri was mentioned, Bolling chimed in, “Would that be considered boobs on the ground or no?”

Bolling later apologized, but it was too late. Sexism, belittling courage, undermining a military operation or—as the Republicans were happy to say from September 12, 2001, through January 19, 2009—damaging the morale of the troops: These are reasons for termination. And if Bolling is still working at Fox by the end of the month, the network is clearly demonstrating that it doesn’t give a damn about the troops—unless, of course, they can be used as props to attack the other political party.

Then there are the passengers in the Republican clown car, who come rolling in honking their horns and juggling their falsehoods whenever members of the rabid right collect in a room. Now I don’t expect a lot from these people—no political party can be held accountable for the loons in its midst. But when they vomit up their bilious ignorance to the whooping applause of the faithful and the misled, the grown-ups in the party have to step forward and tell the truth. Unfortunately, with the growth of the Tea Party, most Republicans now know that speaking truth to the deluded is a sure path to early political retirement.

So it’s doubtful that any smart Republican—and make no mistake, there are lots of smart Republicans—will say anything to contradict the latest horrors spewed by the one-time leader in the 2012 race for the GOP nomination: Representative Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota. Last week, at the 2014 Value Voters Summit, Bachmann, who is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, launched into a speech so full of absurdities that it was amazingly destructive.

Remember, the Muslim woman leading the bombing in Syria was from the United Arab Emirates, a Muslim country. Other countries that participated in the airstrikes were Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan—all Muslim countries. Indonesia is a multiparty democracy that maintains diplomatic ties with the United States and is considered critically important to our strategic future—a moderate Muslim country that is the fourth largest nation in the world. Then there is Turkey, Malaysia, India, Morocco and many other Islamic-majority countries that are friends to America. Even Ukraine, and particularly Crimea—you know, where so many conservatives wanted to go to war against Russia?—have sizable Muslim populations. And don’t forget the millions of Muslims who are permanent residents or citizens of this country.

With the facts now established, let’s look at what Bachmann had to say. She bemoaned “the rise of radical Islamic jihad, though that’s redundant.” She then said that, when it comes to defeating this enemy, “our president has the wrong prescription. He even fails to acknowledge their motivations for bringing out jihad. Yes, Mr. President, it is about Islam!” she shouted. The audience applauded wildly.

Attacking our allies by insulting their religion. Denigrating their women and their fighters. Undermining our military by urging generals to quit.

Conservatives need to learn an important message: No matter how much you twist and squirm and scream and conspire, Barack Obama is president of the United States. He is commander in chief of the military. And all of you clodhoppers who sneer, “He’s not my president”—yes he is, just as Bush or Reagan or Carter or Nixon or LBJ or JFK or FDR or Harding or Cleveland were presidents. The Constitution says so. So grow up and get over it.

Learn to love this country more than you hate its president. We will all be the better for it. Particularly our troops.