OP-ED: The Sad CPAC Performance

By Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick
Joseph J. Honick

 When then Senator Barack Obama went to meet -- under heavy and disruptive security -- flew to Iraq to meet with American military commanders in 2008 -- coming between President George W. Bush and his field generals -- he declared he would pull out troops "when" he would become  president about 15 months later.

He was correctly admonished by the GOP leadership with the statement:  “We only have one president at a time.”  I cannot recall how Obama responded to this appropriate criticism, but the incident came right back to my mind with the foolhardy CPAC that said little for the same GOP that defended President Bush correctly.

I was certainly among the first to criticize the President for his use of more “consequences” in regard to the Russian threats to Ukraine and his earlier unenforceable assertions in regard to Syria.  With the Russian moves on the Crimea, the issue took on greater dimensions that a party raising hell about Senator Obama’s actions should have seen as a need for partisanship to go out the window and to demonstrate to Vladimir Putin there is a strongly unified United States in times of such tension….the way Democrats and Republicans worked together when JFK confronted the Soviets in Cuba those many years ago.

Sadly, and perhaps even perilously, the carnival performers at CPAC chose to regale each other and the media by not only  making fun of how the President was performing in the Ukraine situation but even gave a vote of endorsement to the Russian boss.  After that, they devoted nonstop assaults on President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.

There is an old saw that growing older is mandatory, but growing up is optional. Sadly again, the jokesters at CPAC forgot their own warning we only have one president at a time and proved to Putin and perhaps the world we don’t know how to come together when our reputation is on the line.

Just as inexcusable egotistical former State Secretary Henry Krissinger lined up a couple of other former diplomats to sign a media dispatch reciting what they would do under the circumstances.  More nobly and patriotically might have been their calling the White House and requesting a meeting with the President that undoubtedly would have been granted under the circumstances.  There they could have presented their ideas.   On the other hand, Henry the K had some old failures like Angola that might have tainted his own show.   But then we should not have been surprised at this turn of events.  It was only the morning after the Republicans retook power in the House of Representatives a couple of years ago when they declared only two major missions: to knock off the president and to stand in the way of anything and everything Democrats might advance.  Nowhere in their declaration of victory was there a word to help rebuild American standing in the world and in the nation.
So now, as Mr. Putin has the vote of confidence and praise of the Conservative Political Action Committee on the record, why on earth should he surrender an inch?

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Honick is president of GMA International Ltd., Bainbridge Island, WA.  He is an international consultant to business and writes on a variety of public affairs issues.

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