Among other qualities, a good presidential candidate must be knowledgeable and able to think outside the box; equally important, he must not be naive or gullible — certainly not swallow everything the enemy says hook, line, and sinker.
During the recent Republican candidate debate, Congressman Ron Paul exhibited his ignorance and gullibility when the panel was asked: “Do you plan to decrease Defense spending, to balance spending, or do you believe high spending is essential to security?”
After Paul explained how he was “tired of all the militarism that we are involved in,” and his plan on cutting back, he said, “But we’re under great threat, because we occupy so many countries. … The purpose of al-Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us … but we’re there occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we’re kidding ourselves.”
This is, of course, an old and well known narrative.
By questioning Paul, however, Rick Santorum exposed the latter’s naivety when it comes to the goals and motives of al-Qaeda:
On your [Paul’s] Web site on 9/11, you had a blog post that basically blamed the United States for 9/11. On your Web site, yesterday, you said that it was our actions that brought about the actions of 9/11. Now, Congressman Paul, that is irresponsible. The president of the United States — someone who is running for the president of the United States in the Republican Party should not be parroting what Osama bin Laden said on 9/11. We should have — we are not being attacked and we were not attacked because of our actions. We were attacked, as Newt [Gingrich] talked about, because we have a civilization that is antithetical to the civilization of the jihadists [full transcript here].
After rejecting Santorum’s thesis, Paul made his fatal blunder:
Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have been explicit — they have been explicit, and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment, and you have been bombing — [audience booing] I didn’t say that. I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was behind the bombing.
This exchange clearly revealed Paul’s lack of knowledge concerning the nature of the enemy. After all, it’s one thing for some Americans to believe that the source of all conflict is the United State’s presence in some countries, it’s quite another — it’s dangerous — for a potential president to think, and speak, this way.