Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

GOP's 'faux anger' is all the rage

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor
updated 6:14 PM EDT, Wed May 2, 2012
Thousands celebrate near ground zero after President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden.
Thousands celebrate near ground zero after President Obama announced the killing of Osama bin Laden.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maria Cardona: Some in GOP have criticized Obama's Afghanistan trip this week
  • She says GOP using faux anger, same as earlier criticism of Obama's bin Laden ad
  • She says Romney had said killing bin Laden not a priority; he should own his words now
  • Cardona: GOP hypocritical; would gladly claim credit if its candidate had killed bin Laden

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

(CNN) -- You would think that President Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan yesterday and speech to the troops would have quieted -- at least for one night -- the latest installment of the GOP's "Faux Anger Chronicles." While most of the president's critics were silent or praised him for the trip, others didn't disappoint in following along with the fad.

Faux anger: It's all the rage. At least in politics.

The president's speech honored and thanked our troops, reviewed our strength and resolve in Afghanistan and in killing Osama bin Laden -- who planned the 9/11 tragedy in that country -- and also in getting rid of 20 of 30 of al Qaeda's top lieutenants.

It provided a slight break in the action from the GOP temper tantrum that began earlier this week. That one was over the Obama campaign's ad, which had the audacity in using the president's decision to move forward on the raid to bring down Osama bin Laden, no doubt a tremendous accomplishment for the administration and the country. The ad appalled GOP critics because we all know the Republicans would never have "gone there."

Maria Cardona
Maria Cardona

Oh wait, they would and they have. Do we remember 9/11? With President Bush holding the megaphone, standing atop the rubble of ground zero? With caskets draped in the U.S. flag? These were not postcards being sold on the street corners of NYC to commemorate the event that changed our lives forever. These were images of President Bush's 2004 campaign ads. Back then of course, Democrats cried foul, and Republicans stood their ground.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter and Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The difference now is that Democrats have taken a page right out of the Republican playbook, using strength on foreign policy to remind people of the courageous decision Obama -- a Democrat --made, ordering the raid on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan (more on that later). The Republicans don't much like being shown up on what has historically been their turf.

As I say to my children whenever they throw a temper tantrum: tough noogies. Deal with it. Those who worked for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 and saw their candidate get bloodied by George W. Bush and allies have even harsher words.

If the tables were turned, does anyone think Republicans wouldn't have used this accomplishment? No. Does anyone think that if -- God forbid -- the mission had gone sour, Obama's opponents would not have used it as the No. 1 reason to get him out of office? No.

This is exactly what happened to Jimmy Carter and why it is so bizarre that Mitt Romney actually brought up Carter in his response when asked if he would have ordered the mission to kill bin Laden. We know Jimmy Carter would have, because he did order a difficult mission like this before. Unfortunately, Operation Eagle Claw failed, as did Carter's presidency because of it.

What we don't know is whether Mitt Romney would have ordered the bin Laden raid. According to Mitt Romney in 2008, he actually wouldn't have done so under the exact same circumstances that President Obama said he would and in fact did.

Let's remember that after the George W. Bush administration went into Tora Bora looking for bin Laden and didn't find him, the search took a back seat to going into Iraq and getting Saddam Hussein. Bush actually de-prioritized the search for Osama bin Laden. And this became the line that many Republican candidates would follow in the 2008 campaign.

Before then, in 2007, Mitt Romney had said he would not move heaven and Earth to find Osama bin Laden. He did clarify his statements a couple days later and also in a debate, saying that getting bin Laden was important, but so was focusing on other top tier al Qaeda leaders. But the more damning statement came afterward, when he strongly criticized then-Sen. Obama for saying he would go into Pakistan to get bin Laden without the help of the Pakistanis if he had actionable intelligence to do so. Romney called those statements "ill-timed" and "ill-considered."

Mitt Romney needs to learn that words matter. When he says in no uncertain terms that he would not in fact order a mission in Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistanis, and then criticizes his opponent for saying he would, why should we not judge him on exactly those words?

So Mr. Romney, if you would like to now take back those words and concede you were wrong, you should do so. But don't expect the American people to buy into your faux anger when your opponent is questioning how you would have acted when you yourself have provided the words that lead to that legitimate doubt.

Additionally, the Romney campaign and Mr. Romney himself is saying any president would have made the same decision President Obama did. Not true. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said he thought it was "gutsy" and one of the most courageous calls he has seen a president make. The intelligence available at the time was 50-50 at best that bin Laden was even in that compound. Vice President Biden said he had advised against it and that in fact the only person in that room that told the president to go was then CIA Director Leon Panetta.

So in the infamous words of the GOP's beloved Newt Gingrich: Spare me the pious baloney. Or at least the faux anger -- even if it is politics' newest fashion craze.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Maria Cardona.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
As a woman whose parents had cancer, I have quite a few things to say about dying with dignity.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
David Gergen says he'll have a special eye on a few particular races in Tuesday's midterms that may tell us about our long-term future.
updated 10:52 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
What's behind the uptick in clown sightings? And why the fascination with them? It could be about the economy.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Fri October 31, 2014
Midterm elections don't usually have the same excitement as presidential elections. That should change, writes Sally Kohn.
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mike Downey says the Giants and the Royals both lived through long title droughts. What teams are waiting for a win?
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Thu October 30, 2014
Mel Robbins says if a man wants to talk to a woman on the street, he should follow 3 basic rules.
updated 5:03 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say more terrorism plots are disrupted by families than by NSA surveillance.
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Time magazine has clearly kicked up a hornet's nest with its downright insulting cover headlined "Rotten Apples," says Donna Brazile.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Leroy Chiao says the failure of the launch is painful but won't stop the trend toward commercializing space.
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Wed October 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley: Though Jeb Bush has something to offer, another Bush-Clinton race would be a step backward.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT