I find it totally incomprehensible – totally irresponsible – totally unacceptable – totally shameful – that a candidate for President of the United States can make an acceptance speech before his political party on international television and not say the word “Afghanistan.” The word was never on his lips!

The guy in this case is Mitt Romney. Were it Obama, Dole, Ford, Kennedy, either Roosevelt or G. Washington himself – I’d say the same.

How in Hell do you stand center stage and not recognize, in some profound way, the American military, the costs in lives and monetary treasure to this nation and the undeniable political sinkhole that is Afghanistan? How in Hell can you seek our highest political office and not so much as acknowledge a war this nation should have never gotten involved in and should not be involved in a day longer? Much less, how can you seek voter approval without some mention of how you intend to deal with it? To end it?

This is no one-party war. It’s not the other party’s war. They never are if we’re a united country. The problem at the moment is we are NOT a united country and Afghanistan is one of the major factors causing our division. The American people have told their government in no uncertain terms “GET US OUT OF AFGHANISTAN!” There is no victory to be won. Only more casualties for the grieving and the waste of precious resources sorely needed at home. Resources of both lives and dollars.

What we saw in that convention center was a crowd willing to accept – without question – whatever was spoken on that stage. Platitudes, promises, half-truths and – too often – lies. Hard reality was an unwelcome stranger. They accepted it all without demanding their leaders address the crippled economy, financial industry scandals and lawbreaking, their own party’s hand in bringing gridlock to the lawmaking process – and not one word of the war and its terrible effects on this country. They demanded no plan – no action – no effort to deal with national problems we face. Lobbyist hospitality suites apparently sufficiently softened the glare of what was expected or the ability to focus on the real reasons why we have two political parties in this nation.

I was looking for something that never happened – a moment political wonks often refer to as the “Goldwater moment.” The hour in the 1964 Republican Convention when Barry Goldwater took his own party to task for failing to recognize the important issues of that time and acting on them. It was – regardless of how you felt about his politics – a moment when a leader dared to stand under the lights and chastise his own party. Face to face.

Political conventions are – at best – poor places to find substance. They’re filled with deliberate distractions, lots of showy staging and too-often phony projections of an America that doesn’t exist. But – in one prime time television appearance- a presidential candidate can be seen and heard by more people than lived on the entire earth a few hundred years ago. Never in the balance of his campaign days will that occasion happen again. The image – the words – will never have a larger audience.

If there is a moment to make your case for approval, that is it. The few minutes when every word should be directed at your core beliefs – your core issues – your core values. The few minutes when you say “This is who I am, what I am, what I believe and what I plan to do with your support.” And “This is how I will handle the most tragic situation this nation faces.”

More than that, it should be the moment all national issues are recognized, explained and recommendations made for their solution. It should be the moment when the nominee makes his case for full-throated support from his own party and issues a sincere appeal for support from those who might not yet be settled in their choice.

I didn’t hear any of that. So the Republican Party’s fortunes will have to rise and fall on what was heard. Possibly the entire nation if he is elected. Such is the fate of missed opportunities. Maybe Democrats will do the same.

But to spend that precious moment with no recognition – not one word – of this nation’s longest war, its ravaging effects on our treasury, our values and on a generation of young people called on to fight a winless battle for some imagined political “win” – that is criminal.

For my Republican friends who say I’m ignoring Democrats, I pledge this: if their candidate makes his acceptance speech without dealing with the subject of the horrors of Afghanistan, I’ll come down twice as hard.

When it came to the terrible subject of that winless war, what I saw from the Republican nominee may well qualify as malfeasance before being in office. It was certainly candidate malfeasance. It was shameful as a candidate. It was tragic as a political party.

Comments are closed.