A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Are You on Offense or Defense?

On Tuesday night, former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, stated in a speech at a Republican dinner in New Hampshire, that if the Democrats won the Presidency in '08, they would put the country back on defense in the "war on terror." His sweeping comment was unfair to the differences within the ranks of the Democratic candidates currently in the race. Unfortunate as well were the responses from the leading Democratic presidential contenders, that did not deal at all with the substance of Giuliani's claim. Perhaps most disappointing was Senator Barak Obama's comment that Giuliani was questioning his and others' patriotism for challenging the policies of the Bush administration. Giuliani, of course, said no such thing.

But, as I think about the analogy of offense and defense, I believe it would be quite helpful if all the presidential contenders, Democrat and Republican alike, were required to describe their approach to terrorism, not only in terms of offense or defense, but what kind of offense or defense would best describe their respective policies. If offense, would it be smash-mouth football or air attack? If defense, would it be prevent or read and react?

Since a high percentage of the American people are sports fans, they could relate quite well to such imagery. It might help the voters sort through the real differences between the candidates, and it could force the presidential hopefuls into having substantive debates on foreign policy, instead of focusing on abstract platitudes and shallow sound bites.

Substance in politics? Imagine the possibilities! We have to imagine... we see so little of the real thing.

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Cross-Posted at RedBlueChristian


Anonymous said...

As the Republican frontrunner Giuliani must expect to take potshots from any Democratic hopeful. He plainly stated where he stood and then offered his opinion of what would be the position of the opposition. Obviously his analogy struck a raw nerve. Rather than offering a rational position, the response demonstrated and abject lack of any postion at all.
Personally while I would much prefer a clear smash-mouth offense long term success will have to combine a coordinated ground and air attack. I think most football fans could understand the rational for such an approach.

Allan R. Bevere said...


You are correct to say that Giuliani has plainly stated his position, but his comment was also a hasty generalization. It ignores, for example, Senator Biden's clearly substantive strategy for staying in Iraq and partitioning the country, giving the different factions their own territory.

Whether that is ultimately a good idea or not, I do not know, but it is unfair to lump him in with Senators Edwards and Obama, whose ramblings on the subject during the debate the other night reveal they have no obvious idea on what to do on this all-important foreign policy matter.

Also note Senator Clinton's tough language on how she would deal with another terrorist attack. She obviously saw a weakness in the responses of the other leading candidates on this subject, and began to exploit that almost immediately, the day after the debate.

I have no doubt that Giuliani's comment struck a nerve with many in the Democratic party as they are the party that is perceived as weak on national defense, and it was quite savvy for Giuliani to go after this weakness. I am simply pointing out that it is unfair to make such a hasty generalization for every Democratic presidential candidate; but, of course, such charactizations happen all the time coming from all sides.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I'm sure O'Bama and company have plenty of time to recover and come across better politically. Hillary Clinton needed a lift and maybe she got a slight one for that saying, though the saying didn't impress me towards voting for her or anyone who would say that.

I wish we'd work at getting at underlying issues of justice and try to address those. And I want to hear strategy for stopping the tens of thousands that die daily, due to poverty. What are we doing about that?

America, both Democratic and Republican are too geared to thinking in terms of a military solution. Even in Iraq officers on the field say there is no such thing. There must be a political solution which of course the military, by what they're doing, hopes (and we all hope) it would occur.

Just some ramblings from a Christian pacifist. Thanks for these thoughts, Allan.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Thanks for your so-called "ramblings" which are quite insightful.

My point in the post was simply to say that it would be nice if we could find a way to create substantive discussion between the candidates. Whether we are talking about terorrism or domestic policy, we need more than sound bites and answers to questions that are somehow beside the point.

That is one great thing about the Christianblogopshere. We are willing to have the substantive discussion so necessary, no matter what the topic.

Thanks again!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Allan, I so much agree with your point! We need so much more of that. It seems like it's all about what connects with voters.

We need those who do connect well with voters, but even more, who talk substantively on issues. The former without the latter can be dangerous. But politicians are afraid to say too much and perhaps are overly scripted(?).

Thanks for your kind words.