But on Saturday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Canada/TX) topped them all, and he'll be hard to beat. It wasn't just grossly irresponsible, it was potentially dangerous. One of the most dangerous things I've heard from a presidential candidate. Right up there with John McCain's "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" song joke, if not more so. That's not hyperbole.
Speaking before religious conservatives at the Value Voters conference on Friday, he told the crowd how it might be a necessary to kill the Ayatollah in Iran.
Seriously, he said that.
Sen. Cruz was talking about how he would "rip to shreds" the nuclear arms deal with Iran on the first day in office if he was elected president, and then added, "If the Ayatollah doesn’t understand that, we may have to help introduce him to the 72 virgins” -- referring to the apparent belief of some some Muslims of what they'll receive if they die as a martyr.
And the clueless, bloodthirsty value conservatives in the audience cheered.
In fairness, as much as the audience should know better, I don't always expect "knowing better" to be a quality of zealots. But I do expect a United States senator who is running for president of the United States to grasp the enormity of the office and the concept that suggesting the assassination of any nation -- even one he no doubt considers a terrorist country -- is as pathetic a thing as he could have done.
Ted Cruz, of course, was not just talking to a room of adoring religious conservatives. He knew he was standing on a high, visible platform where his words as a candidate for the U.S. presidency are followed pretty much throughout the world, on the off-chance that he gets nominated by the Republican Party and then wins. So, what in God's name was he thinking????????
For one thing, he knows full-well -- and has vocally supported -- that the United States started an unprovoked "preventative" war with Iraq, under the guise of getting our attack in before America's enemy attacked us first. Given that he just suggested the possibility of killing the Ayatollah, why wouldn't he think that any other country would want to operate on the same attack-first "preventative" principle, and get the first shot in before America had its chance to get him??????
And second, as much as many/most Americans have an idea of who Ted Cruz is -- and people either love him for his pugnacious bombast, or detest him as a dangerous, divisive, egomaniacal clown -- it's likely that all foreign powers don't have the same sense of nuance to grasp his outlandishness. They no doubt see him as indeed he is: a United States senator running for the Republican nomination to be President of the United States. And so they probably take his words seriously, and at face value.
And what on earth has the Republican Party come to that its audiences not only cheer this, but that its leaders and those also running for president didn't immediately squash his words like a bug? The silence has been deafening. For that matter, Democrats have themselves been inappropriately too quiet. What Ted Cruz said demands a loud, vocal rebuke.
It shouldn't matter if anyone thinks Ted Cruz has a chance to get the GOP nomination -- he does have a chance, however unlikely -- or if they think he's a joke. His words as a serious candidate for president have meaning. And those words should be squashed viscerally.
Lest anyone think otherwise, how wrong was this?
I'm currently reading 500 Days by Kurt Eichenwald, about "secrets and lies" by the government in the aftermath of 9/11. On page 79, he writes about President Bush being asked by the press just days later about Osama bin Laden and Mr. Bush responding by saying he remembers an old TV show, Wanted: Dead or Alive. When hearing those words, John Bellinger, senior associate counsel of the National Security Council "almost fell out of his chair" and feared "the president may have gone too far." He sent an email to the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales. Eichenwald writes --
"The lawyer needed to warn Bush not to say things like 'dead or alive.' Such a reckless remark could be interpreted as an instigation for assassination, and that would cross the legal line. Bellinger finished composing his e-mail and hit the send button."
Now, again, remember, that "dead or alive" off-handed remark by the president came just days after 9/11 and was about no less than Osama Bin Laden. And even that, under those conditions, about someone who wasn't even the head of country, but a terrorist who had just overseen the killing of 3,000 people on American soil, a national security counsel lawyer was concerned enough to warn the president about the dangers of such a statement.
And there is Ted Cruz on the campaign trail quipping about killing a foreign leader. Just because Mr. Cruz didn't like a deal that had been signed to not build nuclear weapons.
It was reprehensible.
Perhaps the only thing I've ever heard more dangerous from a presidential candidate running for the White House is when John McCain said, "My choice for my vice-presidential running mate is Sarah Palin."