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 9:29 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
updated 11:36 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
updated 10:21 PM EDT, Sun October 19, 2014
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
updated 4:33 PM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
updated 12:42 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
updated 4:43 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
updated 9:42 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
updated 4:27 PM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
updated 12:07 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
updated 12:29 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
updated 1:00 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Wed October 15, 2014
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
updated 1:44 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
updated 9:35 AM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
updated 10:08 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
updated 7:25 AM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
updated 4:04 PM EDT, Tue October 14, 2014
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
updated 9:07 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
updated 6:50 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Sat October 11, 2014
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT