Two stories today…one comedy, one tragedy.
COMEDY…LET THE CLOWN SHOW BEGIN – Its official…Ted Cruz is running for president. The junior senator from Texas tweeted his official announcement shortly after mid-night: “I am running for president. I hope to earn your support.” Cruz will make an appearance today at Jerry Fallwell’s Liberty University where he is expected to make his first official campaign speech. Cruz becomes the first Republican hopeful to officially enter the fray.
Senator Cruz is the undisputed head of the Tea Party and the heartthrob of the far right. He is also the embodiment of all that is wrong with Washington. Cruz craves the media spotlight and never disappoints; a clever quip or a controversial phrase always at the ready. But while he is long on partisan rhetoric he is woefully short on substance.
Cruz is the guy who tied up the senate for 21 hours while he read the children’s classic “Green Eggs and Ham.” Cruz’ story was that he was engaging in this filibuster to delay a vote on Obamacare. The truth is that the Senate had already scheduled a vote on the matter for the following day. There was no possibility for postponing the vote. The session had already adjourned. Cruz’ speech was just a speech…a sideshow…a faux filibuster that offered nothing in the way of a substantive alternative.
Cruz is also the guy who orchestrated clandestine meetings with House Republicans where he lobbied them to shut down the government rather than pass a funding bill that included Obamacare. Republicans bought into his hair brained scheme and shut down the government for 17 days. 800,000 government workers were furloughed…Standard and Poor's reduced the country’s credit rating…and our GDP took a $25 billion hit. Responding to the political carnage, Cruz said that he knew all along the scheme wouldn’t work but he applauded House Republicans for their courage. What a guy!
Cruz’ decision to deliver his first campaign address at Liberty University is telling. Liberty bills itself as the world’s largest Christian university. While the rest of his party is trying to distance itself from divisive social issues, Cruz’ jumps in the deep end. Number one on his list…abortion rights. Abortion rights may play well with the base but it won’t win you many independents. Doesn’t matter. Playing to the base wins primaries. Cruz will worry about the rest later. Besides…all Liberty students are required to attend the speech so the event will look good for the cameras. Form always trumps substance with Cruz.
Cruz is the first clown to throw his hat into the ring. More funny guys to follow.
TRAGEDY – Two months ago we listened to the president as he spoke about the “successful” military operations in Yemen. Two days ago the US evacuated its remaining personnel due to the deteriorating security situation. Included among the evacuated were about 100 Navy Seals and Green Berets. You know it has all gone to hell if the Seals and Green Berets are bugging out.
Yemen now joins Libya and Syria as failed states within the region; torn apart by a centuries old war between Sunni and Shiite. ISIS sews seeds of terror. Iranian backed militia expand Iran's influence. Moderate Sunni’s, critical in the war against ISIS, remain on the sidelines; hedging their bets on who the winner might be. The Iraq that we see on the map may today cease to exist. Jordan is teetering. There is the very real possibility that the Saudi Kingdom, home to Islam’s two most holy places, may be next. The relationship between the US and its one real partner in the region, Israel, is the worst that it has been in decades.
Fourteen years ago the US engaged in an unnecessary war to avenge the attacks on 9/11. The resulting conflagration destroyed Iraq and left a power vacuum that radical groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS were quick to fill. The violence and political upheaval has spread throughout the region. Secular differences etched in stone thousands of years ago remain. Who are we to change the world?
Dick Cheney says that it could all have been prevented had President Obama defied Iraq’s elected leadership and left a 5,000 troop residual force in country. Dick Cheney is a war criminal trying his best to re-write history.
The lesson here is that America’s presence in the region does not quell the violence…it exacerbates it.