I support Romney, but generally agree with the substance of your post. However, there is something quite depressing in the way Obama is now framing the killing of Bin Laden, and when O questions whether the other guy has the fortitude to make the same kind of decision, those kind of Carter cracks are going to be the inevitable response. Just in terms of process, everybody knows O made a tough call, there was no need to trumpet the decision this way, and I think he is actually limiting the political mileage he would have gotten from the decision. Action always speaks louder than words. These guys did everything right in 2008, this year sure looks different.
About Romney, from a long-time GOP staffer:
Can you imagine what Republicans would be saying if a Democratic presidential candidate had spent two and a half years in France at the height of the Vietnam war in lieu of serving in the military, as Romney did? I dare say Jerome Corsi would already have a book in manuscript timed for release during the Democratic Convention, and Fox and Friends, Limbaugh, and all the rest would be endlessly harping on the subject of the France-loving draft dodger who hates America. With the help of these catalysts, the "controversy" would then spill out into the mainstream media. That we hear nothing remotely comparable now about Romney speaks volumes about how the national media have become wired to serve GOP interests.
You forgot to mention that while serving as a naval officer, Carter personally led a group of men into a damaged nuclear reactor.
About all of them:
One of my clearest memories when I was a Pediatric resident "on call" in the middle of the night was listening to Jimmy Carter reveal the failed rescue attempt. I felt really bad for our president that day and even worse when Ronald Reagan took credit for bringing the hostages home. Mitt Romney seems to be willing to say almost anything for craven political advantage and I am happy that you have been able to demonstrate that it was a very tough call for both Carter and Obama.
My feeling of disgust in this matter I think puts me firmly in your camp on this issue, despite the fact that at this point I'd vote for a bag of sand over Obama.
I know people in SOCOM, and I know people who know people who were on the Desert One mission.
To use these people as pawns in a world-wide, geo-political game -- for better or worse, that is what we (in uniform) signed up for.
But to be used for counting coup in a Stateside election is particularly demeaning for those of us who swear to 'support and defend the Constitution,' whether on the right or left.
I read Bowden's book. While I respect Carter's resolve in the matter, my utmost regard goes to the men who literally thought that they would not survive the mission (according to Bowden), and yet still strapped on the gear, and got on the plane, and ultimately (Constitutionaliy) followed the orders of officials elected by their countrymen.
Both Romney's and Obama's attempts to earn points by how willingly they are to send young men into grave danger, while claiming risks to their reputation/elect-ability, is nothing less than sickening.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which has been a New York Times best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.