Or at least that message has been conveyed time and time again through this election cycle. From the Republican primaries way back in January — when the crowd at the South Carolina debate jeered then candidate Ron Paul when he said America ought to consider applying the “golden rule” to foreign policy — to the most recent debate where Gov. Mitt Romney attacked President Barack Obama for his supposed “apology tour.”
Even before the foreign policy debate, Romney has used similar rhetoric quite successfully throughout his campaign.
During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in August, Romney said, “I will begin my presidency with the jobs tour. President Obama began his with an apology tour. America, he said, had dictated to other nations. No Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators.”
And just one day after the foreign policy debate, the message was echoed again — this time in an advertisement titled “Apology Tour,” published to Romney’s YouTube channel. The 30-second clip begins with a sound bite from the final debate, “The president began what I have called an apology tour, of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness.”
The ad continues, showing Romney at the debate in Boca Raton, Fla. “The reason I call it an apology tour, you went to the Middle East and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq. You skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region,” he said, then echoing the earlier sentiment about “[freeing] other nations from dictators.”
And even after every fact checker has labeled the “apology tour” claims false, the ad still received nearly 1,500 likes out of almost 500,000 views. Maybe 0.3 percent of people liking it isn’t high, but what about all those people who booed Paul’s comment that, “We endlessly bomb these other countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us”?
At the time, I remember wondering why people were booing him. Just because they didn’t like what they were hearing?
Wait a second. What’s so wrong with him simply stating the facts? And what does that say about how we perceive ourselves as Americans in the world?
In a June 2009 article by Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation, a research institute that promotes conservative public policies, entitled “Barack Obama’s Top 10 Apologies: How the President Has Humiliated a Superpower,” he said, “At the core of [Obama’s] message is the concept that the U.S. is a flawed nation.”
In case you haven’t picked up a history book or read any newspaper articles in the last say, 50 years, let me share something with you: We’re not perfect.
What Obama said in reality was more along the lines of this comment, made to a crowd gathered at the Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago for the Summit of Americas opening ceremony in 2009, “The United States will be willing to acknowledge past errors when those errors have been made.”
As Americans, we do need to acknowledge our past errors as a nation. It’s not un-American. And people who acknowledge them aren’t weak and they aren’t unpatriotic. In fact, I think those people who call them unpatriotic are really the unpatriotic ones. Patriotism is defined as love for or devotion to one’s country. You may not agree with Obama politically, but you cannot question his patriotism.
According to the PolitiFact review of the “apology tour” claims, the speeches made during Obama’s foreign travels in 2009 showed that, while he criticized past U.S. actions like the torture practices at Guantanamo Bay, he never offered an apology.
Obama, rather, was skillfully wielding the chief instrument of foreign policy: diplomacy. In that same PolitiFact report, John Murphy, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that specializes in presidential rhetoric and political language, said, “Obama used conciliatory language for diplomatic purposes, not apologizing. It’s much more a sense of establishing reciprocity.”
His efforts to establish a safe place for America in the world prove his devotion to make this country as secure as possible.
And I think to question such a thing is rather unpatriotic.
Bri Bosak can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BriBosak.