Where was the political truce after attacks?
A maxim was once widely observed that “politics stops at the water's edge.”
There are probably various interpretations of that phrase, but a generally accepted one is that when the nation faces a threat from outside its borders, then political leaders speak with one voice and put aside their differences, at least temporarily.
A good example is the 9/11 terror attacks for which we have just observed the 11th anniversary. Everyone came together — including widely diverse political leaders — to show a united front in the face of an enemy that attacked America.
It didn't last, of course. Eventually the disagreements resurfaced, not only on general matters but on 9/11 itself, including how it occurred and how to respond to it. But still, there was remarkable unity for a period of time after the event. We believe most Americans are proud of that fact.
We are not seeing the same thing in the wake of Tuesday night's attacks on two of our embassies in the Middle East, even though one of the attacks in Libya resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including an American ambassador. Details are still emerging as speculation continues over whether the attacks and deaths were related to the 9/11 anniversary.
However, our politics have become so intense and so divided that there was not even a brief respite before the first political shot was fired by the Mitt Romney campaign criticizing President Obama, even before the details were known or the president could respond to the attacks publicly.
Not only was the political salvo ill-timed, but its basic facts were wrong. Romney, however, doubled-down on them in continuing criticism Wednesday.
It was embarrassing to the nation and the GOP candidate that he brandished his political knives even before the nation could mourn those who died or come to terms with the events. It also gave a bad impression to the world.
Our president, whether one agrees with his policies or not, represents the nation at times like these and needs to have a united nation behind him when he responds. There is plenty of time for the politics later.
Unfortunately, we doubt those who lust for the current political division will agree.