I have been asked why I bother responding to some of the frequent commenters on this blog and that is a good question. One answer is that I have grown fond of them over the years. Another is that, from time to time, the exchanges are in fact pretty good on both sides. Finally, anyone reading this and bothering to follow the comments will know that both I and my critics reveal ourselves, for better or worse.
On the most recent post, frequent commenter A.I. gives me a multi-point list of complaints. I will respond to a few of them here.
One: Not all speech is protected speech, as in yelling fire in a crowded theater. The exact wording of the embassy statement may not have been the best it could have been, but under the circumstances, who are you (or Mitt Romney) to quibble. It certainly was not some over-arching statement of American foreign policy as Romney, you and others are trying to portray it.
I think that should have been two points. No, not all speech is protected; however, films making political and religious points are protected if anything is.
Who am I to quibble? I am a citizen of the United States of America. It is not only my legal right to form and express my opinions on this matter but is also entirely proper. It seems to have escaped your memory, but this is a Republic. The people own it and have the final say on policy; the President just works here.
I would note that the Administration itself both denied and disavowed the language I criticize, but then we see it creep back into their statements. No one knows what the Administration's policy is.
Two: What transpired is likely the result of something far more sinister and organized than people protesting a film as I doubt the typical protester came armed with RPG's. The statement may or may not have impacted those simply protesting the film. It certainly would not impact a group using the protest as cover to launch full-blown attacks on the embassy.
Then what use was the statement in the first place, or the subsequent attempts to let them know that we don't like the film either?
Five: Criticism may be warranted at a later date. However, that is not a concession you and the Right ever made regarding the Iraq war and Bush foreign policy in general. You hid behind the notion that criticism of George Bush during a time of war was anti-American and treasonous and painted Democratic criticism as such. So what the hell is it when you and Romney say the kind of crap you're saying before we even know all the facts behind these attacks? You both should be ashamed but alas, I doubt either of you has that capability.
I know full well that you are offended by virtually any criticism of the President at any time. When would the time for politics be, A.I.? Perhaps after the first Tuesday in November? Sorry, but I can't agree. I think it would have better to know about Watergate before the 1972 election. If there are problems with the President's conduct of foreign policy, now is precisely the time to consider them.
To say that I "hid behind the notion that criticism of George Bush during a time of war was anti-American and treasonous and painted Democratic criticism as such" is a damn lie. I have never made such a claim, let alone "hid behind it," whatever that means. I have heard, over and over, that the Bush Administration may such claims. Several times I have invited readers to show me when and where any such accusation was made. I have yet to receive a single piece of evidence.
On the other hand, I have seen a clear example of this kind of accusation very recently. Here's Donald, commenting on the first post:
Your post didn't go over anyone's head, KB. It was anti-American, and evil. It's a pattern with you, and Romney by the way. It follows on several other similar anti-American screeds (your anti-American stance on the Chinese dissident Chen, for example).
See? It doesn't matter whether it's a crisis or not. It's anti-American and evil to criticize the President's foreign policy, at least when he is a Democrat and especially when he is The One. You are not so explicit, but you are making the same point. It is shameful to criticize the President and his Administration. What you accuse Bush of doing is exactly what you are doing now. Sorry to break this to you, A.I., but you guys are the people you have been warning us about.