Dusty Nix: Petulant pols punk themselves in post-Osama poutIf you were watching the last few ugly minutes of the last ugly game of the Dallas Mavericks’ sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs, you saw a vicious blind-side forearm by Andrew Bynum to the exposed ribcage of the Mavs’ Jose Barea.
The game was all but over, the series was over, the defending champs had been humiliated. And whatever grace and dignity was exhibited by other players and coach Phil Jackson, whose Hall of Fame career surely deserved a better curtain call, it will be forever forgotten in the shadow of frustrated teammates throwing a fit of sheer petulance and pique.
Which brings us to the conduct of some Republicans -- including, sad to say, members of the Georgia and Alabama delegations -- in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s unlamented demise.
Nobody needs to pretend President Obama led the raid himself, like Henry V rallying the troops at Harfleur. But the pointed omission of any mention of the commander in chief from so many GOP statements about the takedown of this nation’s most loathsome enemy since Adolf Hitler is nothing short of pathetic.
At a very big moment, people with big responsibilities and an opportunity to stand tall for an event of shared national triumph came up small indeed.
It was worse than small. It was childish.
Let’s dispense with a couple of observations so un-profound and self-evident as to be purely perfunctory. The first: If this exact sequence of events had happened, oh, let’s say four years ago, these same pols would have saturated the land with faxes and e-mails in which the courage and resolve and decisiveness of one George W. Bush wouldn’t have waited for the second sentence.
Even more to the point: Had this mission ended in tragic failure well, we don’t even need a “would have” for that one. Just ask Jimmy Carter.
It now feels embarrassingly naïve to say I expected better. But the truth is, at a moment this huge I really did expect better, especially from the likes of Johnny Isakson. What we got instead was a collective display of petty political sulking. And all because a triumphant American event happened on the wrong president’s watch, and they just couldn’t stand it.
Among the many Republicans who got it right was a New York congressman, whose name escapes me at the moment, telling CNN that while he disagrees with Obama on most things, he had to give the president credit for putting the interests of the country over personal political risk. Mike Huckabee at least grudgingly credited the president with leadership. Even Newt Gingrich acknowledged that the man whose job he wants to take “continued and intensified the campaign in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Think about it, Mssrs. Chambliss, Isakson, Rogers, et al: You’ve been flanked on the side of class and graciousness by Newt Freaking Gingrich. Digest that a while, guys.
You’d like to think that among these ostensible statesmen who collectively lapsed into an impersonation of civic dwarfs, there are at least a few (Isakson would be one of my nominees) who know deep down how pitiful a performance this was. Just an honest handful who maybe looked in the mirror, razor in hand, and thought: That really was a crappy way to act.
As for the rest, we await whatever classy behavior comes next. Maybe at the State of the Union, instead of standing and applauding when the president enters the House chamber, they can turn their backs and squeeze whoopee cushions.
That’ll show him.