I have seldom gone to an athletic contest where the home team was losing when I did not hear comments all around me from those who believe they could have done better than the coach—They should have called a pass instead of a run; they should have punted instead of trying on fourth down, etc. etc. Criticism such as this always carries the implication the critic could have done better had he or she been in the shoes of the person being criticized. Being a Monday-morning quarterback is not only large in athletic endeavors, it is also extremely large in politics and government. Equally large is the little word “if.”
“If I could have been there, I could have done better” is always the implication.
All of this reminds me of a story attributed to Jack Dempsey. A little fellow about 130 pounds walked up to Dempsey, looked up at him and said, “If I were as big as you, I could have been heavyweight champion of the world.” Dempsey looked down at him and said, “Well, why aren’t you the lightweight champion of the world?”
All of this brings to mind the current criticism of our president, particularly related to foreign policy. We are saddled with a party who from the beginning of President Obama’s administration listed as their No. 1 objective to see that he was not re-elected and defeat any of his proposals. Now, they lament the fact our president is less respected throughout the world. I recall a better time when it was almost un-American and considered disloyal to condemn or criticize our president with regard to foreign policy decisions, particularly when we were facing possible armed intervention.
The sad part about the Republican Party’s continued attacks on the president is the attacks simply are criticism with little or no alternative. We have to look first at the response of the Republican Party to the Affordable Care Act. It has consisted of more than 50 efforts to repeal it, yet never has the GOP offered any alternative to deal with the suffering or spiraling costs that if not curbed, will eventually wreck our national economy. They simply criticize what was done, much of which was done in an effort to compromise and meet criticisms of the Republican Party during its passage.
Benghazi now is being cited as the factor contributing to the inability to end the Syrian civil war or prevent the invasion of the Ukraine.
If only our president had been stronger and brought to justice those responsible, he would look so tough that other rogue nations would fear challenging us in other situations around the world. Or at least so says the senator from South Carolina. Many of the allegations, such as there was a task force ready to intervene in behalf of our beleaguered citizens in the Benghazi State Department facility and were told to stand down, have been completely disproven by a bi-partisan, select committee of the U.S. Senate.
The most glaring hypocrisy of criticism about the president’s foreign policy comes in regard to Syria. Trying to figure out what to do in Syria is an almost unsolvable dilemma. Clearly, the tyrant who rules Syria and is killing his own people with abandon should be held accountable. Yet, when President Obama yielded to criticism and asked the Congress to join with him in a tough stance that possibly could have led to some armed intervention, they ran from the issue like scared rabbits. Not a single Republican member of Congress has come forth with a clearly defined proposal of how to end the conflict and save the civilians of Syria, at least not one they are willing to endorse and advocate on the floor of the House or Senate.
Now we face trying to persuade Russia, an obvious international bully, to withdraw from an invasion of the Ukraine. The same old criticism pops up again by those brilliant world leaders like Sarah Palin who couldn’t even serve out her elected term as governor of Alaska, plus a host of very loud critics at the conservative CPAC meeting in Washington this past weekend. Not a single one, after the rough criticism of our president, offered one solution. They seem to opine that had they been president, Russia would not have dared to have crossed the borders of Ukraine. They all seem to have forgotten the lessons we should have learned by Bush’s phony war in invading Iraq where we lost thousands of young American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives.
Similarly to the little guy who approached Jack Dempsey, none of these naysayers who would be world leaders could do a better job than our current president.