“I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.”
Call me a jacka**, but I really think that Ann Coulter quote about the 9/11 widows is applicable to Rudy Guiliani’s response to Ron Paul the other night.
If you missed it, Paul was arguing for a non-interventionist foreign policy when the moderator asked if 9/11 had changed his thinking. Here’s what happened next (emphasis added):
Paul: “Non-intervention [ meant to say “intervention”? ] was a major contributing factor. Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us. They attack us because we’ve been over there, we’ve been bombing Iraq for ten years. We’ve been in the middle east. I think Reagan was right. We don’t understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics. Right now We’re building an embassy in Iraq that’s bigger than the Vatican, we’re building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us.”
Moderator: “Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attacks sir?”
Paul: “I’m suggesting that we listen to the people who attacked us and the reason they did it. And they are delighted that we are over there cause Osama Bin Laden has said ‘I’m glad you’re over on our sand because we can target you so much easier’ They’ve already now since that time killed 3,400 of our men and I don’t think it was necessary”
Guiliani (interrupts): Can I make a comment on that? That’s really an extraordinary statement. As someone who lived through the attack of September 11th, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq. I don’t think I’ve heard that before and I’ve heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11th. [ applause ] I would ask the Congressman to withdraw that comment and tell us he didn’t really mean that. [applause]
Ann Coulter’s statement was incredibly nasty, but though she expressed it with bad motives and in her usual hateful manner, I think the principle upon which she relied is correct. That is, I fully agree with her that the mere fact that a person has lived through a horrific or tragic event does not make that person an expert on whatever that event was. I.e., that the 9/11 widows lost their husbands in a terrorist attack does not mean those widows know anything more, or less, than you, me, or anyone else about how best to prevent the next terrorist attack.
Ditto Giuliani. When he rebuked Paul, Rudy asserted as his authority the fact that he was “someone who lived through the attack of September 11th.” What I say to that is: “And?” Sure, Rudy’s experience as mayor taught him quite a bit about responding to an emergency situation, and even more about recovering from a disaster. But how does his experience make him an expert on foreign policy? It doesn’t.
This is nothing but emotional manipulation. “I lived though it, I suffered, I endured the pain, fear, and loss.” No doubt he did. So did the 9/11 widows. As for Iraq, so has Cindy Sheehan. No-one disputes the suffering. But policy decisions must be based on facts and clear thinking, not emotions.
And as more than one blogger has pointed out, Rudy’s emotionally pandering response to Paul only highlighted his ignorance:
Leave aside that Paul didn’t say we “invited” the attack. Giuliani’s never heard that the first Gulf War and its dozen-year aftermath had something to do with the rise of Al Qaeda. Really? Crack a book. Fire up your webrowser. Here’s the ’98 Fatwa for example:
First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless.
Remember, the war on terror, Giuliani says, is something he understands “better than anyone else running for president.” The sad fact is, that might even be true, considering everyone else up on that stage except for Paul. But it’s sort of like winning “Best Complexion” at the Leper Colony.
Giuliani may indeed uderstand better than anyone else the pain, suffering and fear that terrorism causes. His response to Paul shows that he also knows very well how to use those emotions to his political benefit. At the same time, though, Rudy’s emotionally manipulative cheap shot gave me no reason to think he understands how to prevent more pain and suffering in the future.
UPDATE: The Onion has already said it much better than I ever could:
According to Washington–based political analyst Gregory Hammond, Giuliani’s candidacy “should not be underestimated.”
“Sure, he has no foreign or national policy experience, and both his personal life and political career are riddled with scandal,” said Hammond. “But in the key area of having been on TV on 9/11, the other candidates simply cannot match him. And as we saw in 2004, that’s what matters most to voters in this post-9/11 world.” . . .
“People talk about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, but did either of them happen to be mayor of New York in September 2001?” Bedford, NH resident Helen Rolfe said. “Guiliani was. To me, that speaks volumes about this man.”