Thursday, September 13, 2012

Shoot, Then Aim

There is such a thing as “buck fever.” It is characterized by rapid heart-beat, shaking hands, and irrational actions. It seldom results in the bagging of a buck.

The phenomenon describes the reaction, usually of a first time game hunter, upon sighting the target animal; a deer in most cases. The novice hunter, calm just moments before, suddenly is seized with panic at the possibility of losing the opportunity to bag “the biggest buck the hunter has ever seen.” The result, most often is a rapid emptying of the hunter’s clip and the bagging of nothing. In a few cases the hunter gets an illegal doe or a “Bambi,” or perhaps some farmer’s heifer or horse. In the most tragic cases he/she shoots a hunting companion. Simply put, the hunter shoots without truly aiming.

This week the nation was witness to a case of “buck fever” on the Presidential election circuit. Governor Mitt Romney thought he saw an opportunity to bag an advantage over President Barak Obama and opened fire prematurely. There had been a “gentleman’s agreement” between Romney and Obama that the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center would not be sullied with political attacks.

Things went well until about 6 p.m. when word began to circulate about attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya. Early in the day, in Cairo, protesters were becoming very agitated over an incendiary film produced in the U.S. that denigrated the prophet Mohammad. The U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a statement declaring that the U.S. deplores actions and words intended to denigrate the religion of others. It was an attempt to cool the atmosphere before any attack was made on the embassy. The statement failed to quell the riots and later in the day both the Egyptian and Libyan embassies were attacked with the result that four Americans in Libya – including the U.S. Ambassador –  were killed.

About 6:09 p.m. Governor Romney, thinking he saw a huge opportunity to take a political shot at the president, released to the press a condemnation of the statement by the Cairo embassy, claiming that it was an apology, a desertion of an American’s right of free speech, and that the President was responsible for the statement. The press was instructed to not release the Romney’s criticism until mid-night (honoring – but only barely so – the “gentleman’s agreement” against political attacks on September 11). However, about 10:30 p.m. the governor apparently was overcome with “buck fever” and, thinking an opportunity was slipping away, opened fire. The press release was authorized to be publicized. Romney had emptied his “clip” in a frantic attempt to gain a political advantage.

Subsequent reports have shown that the Governor not only broke his pledge to not make political statements on 9/11; he also shot before aiming. The facts that have come out show that his accusation that the embassy’s statement was an apology, simply were not true. Further, his defense of the freedom of speech for an American is beginning to look like a defense of a man who cried “fire” in a crowded theater. Yes, freedom of speech is a cherished part of our American tradition, but few will dare to defend irresponsible – even deadly – use of that freedom. The Governor is on record as having suggested that our government should not have condemned the inflammatory film that cost the life of four Americans serving their country in a difficult and dangerous place.

If proof were still needed to show that Governor Romney is ill-fitted for the task of Commander in Chief of the U.S. forces, and head of U.S. diplomacy, we got that proof on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. The last thing our nation needs in these trouble times is a leader afflicted with “buck fever”; a man who shoots before knowing what he is shooting at.

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