February 13, 2006


Traditions serve an important function in politics. They are a sort of democracy that acts over time; they grow and solidify because people in the past have found them worth repeating, until they "stick." They codify wisdom gained over many lifetimes. Some go back to the time of George Washigton. If you ever encounter a tradition that seems to serve no apparent function, "Stop, Look and Listen" as they say, before you throw it on the trash!

Other bloggers have heaped deserved criticism on Al Gore's going to the home of the 9/11 hijackers and criticizing America's response to that brutal attack. It was a disgusting example of leftist anti-Americanism. And utterly wrong on the facts.

But it was also wrong for another reason´┐Żbecause he is flouting our traditions. One of those traditions is that our politicians do not criticize America on foreign soil. I'm sure you can think of several reasons why this is a good custom. One of them is that America is often trying to solve problems by negotiation and peaceful pressure, rather than force. And negotiations always work better if we present a united face.

This is in fact a particularly odious thing Gore has done, because Democrats usually present themselves as being so "peace-y," and superior to warmongering Republicans. But this undercutting of our negotiations with countries like Iran and North Korea in fact makes the use of military force more likely.

Another tradition is that former Presidents (and Vice Presidents) do not criticize the current President. Again, you can imagine the various reasons for this. The Clinton/Gore Administration had an easier time in everything they tried to do because Bush, Reagan and Ford all refrained from publicly criticizing them. (Private rebukes, by the way, are proper. After the Bay of Pigs, Ike publicly supported JFK, and privately told him he'd been a damn fool.)

Posted by John Weidner at February 13, 2006 9:19 AM
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