It may seem the height of irony, or maybe a double standard. Last night I listened to the third presidential debate as I drove home from a successful pheasant hunt in South Dakota. In my cooler were nine birds — birds that I had shot, that my dog had retrieved to me in his mouth, and that I had cleaned by hand. It’s a bloody business, hunting; admittedly violent.
And yet, as I drove home and listened to our president and his challenger talk about killing people, it just seemed to me that they were altogether nonchalant about it:
ROMNEY: Well, my strategy is pretty straightforward, which is to go after the bad guys, to make sure we do our very best to interrupt them, to — to kill them, to take them out of the picture.
OBAMA:You know, after we killed bin Laden I was at ground zero for a memorial and talked to a young women who was four years old when 9/11 happened. And the last conversation she had with her father was him calling from the twin towers, saying “Peyton (ph), I love you and I will always watch over you.” And for the next decade, she was haunted by that conversation. And she said to me, “You know, by finally getting bin Laden, that brought some closure to me.”
Regarding Romney’s answer: I get that he was trying to be pithy. But cripes, “go after the bad guys”?!?! What is he, in third grade? I’m all for protecting the U.S., but answers like this are unpresidential. As are arguments that we should build more naval vessels just so we can say that we’ve got more ships than we did in 1916.
But I found Obama’s answer even more troubling. I suppose it’s inevitable that the assassination of Osama bin Laden has been politicized, for it is a hallmark of the president’s first term. But to politicize a private conversation with the daughter of a 9/11 victim is over the line.
Worse still, Mr. President, I don’t care if a political assassination makes a 14-year-old feel better, and you shouldn’t either. There are justifiable reasons for assassinating an enemy of the state, but bringing closure to victims’ families is not one of them.
Obama is getting my vote. I think he’s the better choice. But I do wish that he would talk about assassinations and drone strikes in a way that shows these killings are somewhat troubling to his conscience as a Christian. Because everyone I talk to — liberals and conservatives — think that we should go for a few years with no new wars.