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Romney and Amb. Stevens

The father of Amb. Chris Stevens has asked that his son’s death in Libya not be politicized in the presidential campaign, according to Bloomberg.  Romney and Ryan have latched on to Stevens’ death like flies on honey, in an effort to make Obama responsible for it.  Romney is dancing on Stevens’ grave because he thinks it will help him become President.  Stevens’ death has been one of the best things that has happened for Romney in recent weeks. 

But it’s unseemly.  Romney and the Republicans have no manners, no grace, no sympathy.  Romney’s joy at Stevens’ death is like his contempt for the 47% of the population he said were just worthless takers of government largess. 

The Republicans in general dislike the Foreign Service.  I think it’s because in general Republicans don’t like smart people, such as professors at good universities.  I had a professional run-in with Republican Senator Jesse Helms, when he tried to have HIV/AIDS declared a highly contagious disease for visa purposes, which would have meant that everyone with HIV/AIDS would have been denied a visa to the US.  My office in the State Department was responsible for international health policy.  The M.D. with whom I worked and I went to the doctors and scientists at HHS and other organizations to see if there was any scientific basis for that policy.  The scientific consensus was that there was not.  We got both assistant secretaries of State responsible for this policy, the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs and the Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment and Science to sign off on a reply to the proposed regulation saying that it was wrong, but it had to go through Secretary of State James Baker, via his Under Secretary Bob Zoellick.  Zoellick sat on the memo forever.  He was probably justified.  Baker would probably have recognized that the Helms’ position was incorrect and should not have been made HIV/AIDS an automatic bar to entry into the US.  However, if he had confronted Helms, Helms would probably have cut the State Department budget by millions of dollars, and would have made life miserable in many ways.  So, Zoellick protected him from having to make that decision. 

In a similar story, the New York Times reported that the new senior envoy to Libya, Laurence Pope, retired from the Foreign Service in 2000 when Jesse Helms’ office blocked his nomination to be Ambassador to Kuwait, because Pope would not espouse the Republican party line regarding our need to attack Saddam Hussein in Iraq. 

So, Romney and Ryan carry on the Republican tradition, epitomized by Jesse Helms, of hatred of the Foreign Service.  They may even relish making political hay out of the death of a patriotic Foreign Service officer who gave his life for his country.  Romney has no conception of what it is like to give one’s life for his country.  He spent the Vietnam War on the French Riviera, and none of his five sons has served in the military, according to the Huffington Post

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